No More Jail Time for Handing out Tracts

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CBNNews.com - If you're a resident of Gainesville, Ga., or you're planning on visiting, you no longer have to worry about being arrested and jailed for handing out tracts.

That's right, you don't even need a permit any more to publicly distribute religious literature.

Thanks to Fredric Baumann and the Alliance Defense Fund, a "parade ordinance" requiring legal permission to conduct such activity is a thing of the past - but a not so distant past.

Baumann was arrested and incarcerated last year as police said he violated the ordinance by giving out religious tracts on a public street.

Attorneys of ADF, a legal group fighting to preserve traditional values, reached a settlement agreement with city officials Wednesday to lift the contended ordinance. A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by ADF on August 22 on behalf of Baumann.

"Christians shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs," ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman said. "They have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America."

But these rights have often been waived when citizens commit the "offense" of spreading God's Word.

A Land of Religious Freedom or Censorship?

It has often been said that multiculturalism and "tolerance" are promoted as forwarding the American way, yet many see the acceptance of Christianity as diminishing in a land founded on biblical principles.

Little tolerance was extended to Baumann on April 22 of last year, when he was arrested and spent two days in jail for handing out Christian literature outside the City of Cumming Fairgrounds on a public sidewalk.

Fearing another arrest, Baumann has not passed out tracts since the incident nearly a year ago.

But did Baumann have the right to continue his outreach, and did he really commit a criminal offense?

"Mr. Baumann acted entirely within the law," ADF's Cortman said. "We are pleased that the ordinance that led to his arrest and time in jail is no longer in effect."

With the ordinance being dropped, many are asking, "What was the true crime - distributing tracts or prohibiting God's Word from being spread?"

Losing Our Identity and Perspective

As more and more decisions are being made by our judicial system that champion concepts and practices such as "gay rights," abortion and euthanasia, laws protecting Christian ideals seem to be coming under greater attack.

This is not only seen with regards to the distribution of tracts and Bibles, but with virtually every facet of what the Bible holds as sacred.

Instead of upholding biblical principles upon which the judicial system was founded, Evangelicals see the courts as protecting many societal vices. 

Joe Wright, pastor of the 2,500-member Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas recognized this paradox before the Kansas State House of Representatives in 1996.

Invited to lead the opening prayer in front of the Kansas State Legislature, Wright lifted up the lost ideals and embraced perversions of America and its judicial system.

Even though many walked out during his controversial prayer, Wright persisted to the end.

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. 
We know your Word says woe unto those who call evil good, but that is exactly what we've done. 
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted your values. 
We confess we have ridiculed the absolute Truth of your Word and called it pluralism. 
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. 
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle. 
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. 
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. 
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. 
We have killed the unborn and called it choice. 
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. 
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. 
We have abused power and called it political savvy. 
We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition. 
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. 
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. 
Search us O' God and know our hearts today. 
Cleanse us from every sin and set us free. 
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas and who have been ordained by You to govern this great state. 
Grant them the wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your Will. 
I ask in the name of your Son, the living Savior Jesus Christ. 
Amen.

Sources: Alliance Defense Fund, CBN News, Help Save America

**CBNNews.com producer Michael F. Haverluck has recently accepted a position writing for media relations with Alliance Defense Fund.

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Michael F. Haverluck

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