A new trial has been granted in the case of a Missouri couple arrested while preaching and praying on a public street corner.
Last November, Michael Wheeler was sharing his faith at the Transit Plaza Park area in Kansas City, Missouri, while his wife Joy was praying nearby when a Metro Bus supervisor approached the couple and told them to leave. The Wheelers began to pray and soon were arrested by police. The man was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct and his wife with disorderly conduct, and the two spent the night in jail.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) intervened in the matter, requesting that the case be dismissed. Although a municipal court denied the motion, the Wheelers were granted a new trial on appeal.
ADF lawyer David LaPlante says the Constitution of the United States clearly protects religious speech under these circumstances. “In a case like this, when you are on a public street corner, a sidewalk in a park, and even here where there was an outside, uncovered public bus stop, that is a traditional public forum,” he asserts.
“The government cannot restrict your speech based on its viewpoint,” LaPlante insists. Nevertheless, he says it is clear that, in this incident and elsewhere in America, “religious speech is at stake.” He adds, “It is hard to believe that we've come to a point in our country where Christians are arrested for sharing the gospel on a public street corner.”
“Christians are not second-class citizens, and our speech, religious speech, cannot be treated any differently than any other speech,” he says. “Christians should not be arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights.”
The new trial in City of Kansas City v. Wheeler has been set for August 11, 2006, in Jackson County Circuit Court.
(This article courtesy of Agape Press.)