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City of Goshen agrees: free speech should be allowed on public property

City settles lawsuit filed by ADF attorneys to protect the right to freedom of religious expression
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GOSHEN, Ind.—The City of Goshen has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of a man police prohibited from exercising his right to free speech on public property adjacent to Goshen College.


“This case was about the right of Americans to share their viewpoints on public property.  The City of Goshen has agreed to affirm that right for all of its citizens, including our client,” said Senior Legal Counsel Nate Kellum.

In September 2002, Goshen police had prohibited James Gilles from sharing his faith and distributing literature on a public easement along a bike trail that runs between the campus of Goshen College and a set of railroad tracks.  Police did so after receiving complaints from some people at the college who heard and disagreed with Gilles’ viewpoint.

“City officials are not allowed to discriminate against people simply because they or someone else don’t like religious speech.  The First Amendment exists for that very purpose.  After all, there’s no need to protect something that everybody likes.  We are pleased that the city agrees,” Kellum said.

As part of its settlement of the case, Gilles v. City of Goshen, originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, the city will adopt a policy that states, in part, that “the public is entitled to exercise their constitutional rights to free expression within the trail’s boundaries….”  The Goshen chief of police will also issue a departmental directive stating the same.
“ADF desires to protect and defend the right of Americans to engage in free religious expression with their neighbors,” Kellum said.  “That’s what the First Amendment is about.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.