Lawsuit Filed Against City for Restricting Christian Ministry During Arab Festival

Thomas More Law Center:

Lawsuit Filed Against City for Restricting Christian Ministry During Arab Festival

ANN ARBOR, MI – For the last five years, Pastor George Saieg and scores of his volunteers have visited Dearborn, Michigan during its annual Dearborn Arab International Festival to pass out religious literature and discuss their Christian Faith. Pastor Saieg is a Sudanese Christian, and Founder and Director of the Arabic Christian Perspective (ACP), which ministers to Muslims.

Dearborn happens to be one of the most densely populated Muslim communities in the United States. An estimated 30,000 of its 98,000 residents are Muslims.
Even though there has never been a disruption of the public peace during this Christian ministry, last week Dearborn police officials told Pastor Saieg that he and his group are prohibited from freely traveling the public sidewalks to distribute their literature outside the festival. They must remain at a specific location.

Dearborn happens to be one of the most densely populated Muslim communities in the United States. An estimated 30,000 of its 98,000 residents are Muslims.
Even though there has never been a disruption of the public peace during this Christian ministry, last week Dearborn police officials told Pastor Saieg that he and his group are prohibited from freely traveling the public sidewalks to distribute their literature outside the festival. They must remain at a specific location.

As a result, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Becker Law Firm based in Los Angeles, California, the general counsel for ACP, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Dearborn’s policy. The lawsuit was filed only after attempts were made to amicably assert Pastor Saieg’s constitutional rights to free speech. thomasmore.org/graphics/sb_thomasmore/imag96.gif Click here to read the complaint.


I watched a video regarding this matter and I believe they have a case. The security people literally hit the camera people’s equipment more than a dozen times which was caught on camera. And all they wanted to do was ask people at one of the venues that clearly stated…Have a question, we have the answers, but that was not to be.
I think the problem was that the Christians had a T-shirt that bore the cross of Jesus Christ. People in Michigan I hope you are waking up.

I have no background, but were the evangelists being disruptive to the event itself?

I know I’d get a bit PO’d if Jack Chick’s minions invaded a festival my parish put on in a neighborhood. Is it so different?

The article mentioned in the first post is from one month ago. Here is an update:

With the help of the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian legal group, Saieg sought a temporary injunction to stop the city from preventing his group from distributing materials on the sidewalk. But the petition was denied, and the group was permitted to distribute literature only at one location within the festival.

Saieg alleges in his complaint that the spot was a particularly bad one, and that his group was able to distribute only 5,000 packets of literature and Bibles – a fraction of the $50,000 worth of materials that they had prepared. In past years, he said, when they were allowed to distribute on the sidewalks, they were able to give out most of their literature.

Now Saieg is suing to get the city’s action declared unconstitutional and to make sure that it has access to the sidewalks at next year’s festival.

But city officials say they acted correctly.

“One federal judge has already agreed with us and denied a temporary injunction,” Mary Laundroche, Director of the Dearborn Office of Public Information, told FOXNews.com. “The judge agreed with us that what normally would have been public sidewalks were actually part of the festival life during the festival.”

She added that members of Arabic Christian Perspective were free to preach on the sidewalks, just not to distribute materials.

foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534301,00.html

The festival is an Arab festival, not a Muslim festival, and it is a public function, not a private one. Your comparison to a parish festival is meaningless. So the answer to your last question is: Yes, it is completely different.

… She added that members of Arabic Christian Perspective were free to preach on the sidewalks, just not to distribute materials.

This make no sense. Preaching is much more “disruptive” than passing out Christian tracts.

Regardless of the legal merits here, I have to say, I hate people who do this kind of thing–try to disrupt someone else’s thing to push their viewpoint or religion.

I don’t like the trannies who dress up as religious sisters and disrupt Catholic masses.

I don’t like the “Christians” who man the exposing Mormonism storefront in Nauvoo ( a major Mormon historical and temple site). Although the competition between the LDS and Community of Christ (formerly Re-organized Church of Latter Day Saints) is pretty darned funny.

I don’t like “Christians” who try to annoy people at the Gay pride parades.

I don’t like “Christians” who annoy people at Arab fest (and in my neighborhood, at least, half the Arabs are Christians).

Really, you don’t see non-Christians thronging to Kristkindlmarket in Chicago to hand out religious tracts (they’re just there for the food and trinkets). You don’t normally see a throng of Hindus outside of Christian churches waiting to hand out literature.

I do remember Cardinal George requesting that Baptists please not come to Chicago to annoy the Hindus some years ago.

Did you even watch the video footage of this? The Christians were NOT handing out Christian tracts. They had a question about one of the pamphlets that one of the Muslims booths were handing out and went to ask them a question about their own (Muslims) pamphlet. They were NOT evangelizing. The Christians were not doing anything wrong.

I’ll see if I can find that video.

Here is the video.

Arab Festival 2009: Sharia in the US

The Thomas More Law Center, nominally Catholic, has a history of knee-jerk reactions to so-called cases of religious discrimination. It has been wrong quite frequently, such as the famous Joe Moore “Ten Commandments on the court house wall” cases.

My problem with it is that it does not really act impartially. When a teacher set up a historical project on Islam the Center jumped in to yelp and scream, not noting that part of the project was studying Catholicism in the middle ages. Also, the center litigation tactics have resulted in it having to pay out legal fees to opposing counsel in several cases.

So, after being aware of the organization for years, I have a real problem with the Thomas More Center and its legal work. It just does not understand constitutional law and I think it is prejudiced against non-Christian religions.

You know, if I had to choose, I would go with the ACLU over the More Center. When Connecticut tried to bet the Bridgeport Diocese to register as a lobbying organization, it was the ACLU whicvh came to the aid of the diocese and got the state to back off. Where was the MOre Center? Huffing and puffing about demonstrators arrested at Notre Dame.:rolleyes:

:confused:

Sabda, the video you linked to doesn’t seem to have anything to do with what the organization Arabic Christian Perspectives did at the festival. The video is about a group called Acts 17 Apologetics, which was going booth to booth to confront people.

Disruptive? Only in the sense that Muslims, or at least the ones on scene seem to feel that proselytizing by any other faith is.

As for “Jack Chick’s minions” – they would be perfectly in their rights to pass out their stuff, approach and try to engage people in conversation, &c. Your getting PO’d is irrelevant.
You might want to exercise your rights in a way that POs somebody else someday.

They stated they had a question about a pamphlet that one of the people working a booth had handed them. When they went to ask a question that is when their trouble started. They should be able to go up and ask a question without being harassed.

From what I understand it is the Christian groups that are being singled out. Other groups can go and pass out their pamphlets and it’s not a problem but the Christians have to be in a completely separate area away from the festival. If this is an Arab festival and not just an strictly Muslim festival than the Christians should be allowed as there are Arab Christians. Plus, from what I have read the Christians have stated they can not even walk though the area without being harassed. They get jumped and accused of passing out tracts when they are not even doing that.

How all this is going to turn out I don’t know but from what I have read I’m not surprised the Christians have filed a lawsuit. We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

I can see why some people think that these Christians should have been restricted, but from what is being said about what actually happened, this seems clearly unconstitutional. When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, fifty years ago a Protestant evangelist preached very loudly and daily to the crowds walking by on the downtown public square. The police would pick him up and stop him. But he took it to court and the court ruled against the police and after that they did not interfere with his preaching. All this was on the front page of the Cleveland daily. We all hear people providing messages we do not want to hear, and I recall how some museums have had “art” displays that are blasphemous. However, the courts allow this. It is true that sometimes some go to far, though I wonder if these Christians are going to far if they are going to an Arab fair, since some Arabs are in fact Christians. In my city there is a, Arab, Lebanese, Marionite rite Catholic community. But in any case, I think the court will give these Christains the right to continue in this way.

Thank you!


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