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Free speech advocate seeks to censor ministry videotape on homosexuality

ADF official comment
Published On: 10/18/2017

ALEXANDRIA – Barry W. Lynn, whose free speech advocacy has included claims that the First Amendment protects the distribution of hard-core and child pornography, is being sued in federal court for trying to censor the First Amendment rights of a small Phoenix-based Christian ministry. 

Lynn is the former legislative counsel for the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, the current executive director of the left-of-center group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and a self-styled free speech advocate.

Nevertheless, Lynn is trying to squelch the distribution of a videotape in which he debates the question, "Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic Christianity?"  Lynn debated the question with James White, Th.D., director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, on May 24, 2001.

Alpha and Omega Ministries filed the complaint in United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia asking for a declaration of its rights to distribute a videotape of the debate.  In the complaint, Alpha and Omega Ministry reports it has substantial records showing that Lynn agreed before the debate to production and distribution of the videotape.  Despite this, Lynn began his attempt to censor the ministry and its distribution of the tape immediately following the debate.  

An attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund is representing the ministry.  The Alliance is a legal organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona, formed in 1993 to advance religious liberty, the right to life, and the traditional family.

Attorney Charles Allen of Glen Allen, Virginia, and Alliance Chief Counsel Benjamin W. Bull, are representing Alpha and Omega. Bull said the facts are clearly in favor of the ministry.  "The irony here is palpable," Bull said.  "Lynn has argued that even child pornography is protected by the First Amendment.  But now he wants to censor a videotape in which he discusses the question of homosexuality and Christianity.  Does this strike anyone else as a little unusual?"

Bull continued: "Mr. Lynn is a public figure, and the debate was a newsworthy event.  There are no relevant copyright issues to contest; the videotape was recorded with full knowledge by all parties that it would be reproduced and distributed.  In cases such as this one, the First Amendment protects the right to distribute the videotape as a newsworthy event. We will stand to protect the rights of those who want to see the videotape. They have a right to know the truth."  The next action in the case will be Lynn’s response to the court.

The Great Debate, Inc., a New York corporation, sponsored the debate at Huntington, Long Island.

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.
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