Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gideons will press for dismissal of charges

From "Gideons will press for dismissal of charges" by Ed Thomas, posted 3/10/07, at

Two members of The Gideons International missionary organization who were arrested for handing out Bibles on a sidewalk outside of a public school are moving to have their cases dismissed in a Florida court. In their defense, the two men are making a case that they were simply exercising their right to free speech.

On January 19, Ernest Simpson and Anthony Mirto were arrested and charged with trespassing for handing out the Bibles on a public sidewalk outside of Key Largo School, even though they did not step onto school grounds. The principal reportedly had called police about the Gideons members' presence.

ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, says the charge is without merit. "The First Amendment protects the right of citizens to distribute Bibles and engage in other religious speech on public sidewalks," he asserts, "and it's certainly a sad day in America when Gideons are arrested for distributing Bibles on a public sidewalk."

Cortman says this is simply a case of an overaggressive government trying to silence Christians. He has filed a motion to dismiss for both plaintiffs in Maricopa County, Florida Court.