Judge: Mission society can distribute tracts at 'gay pride' event

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the City of St. Louis June 24, paving the way for volunteers with The Apple of His Eye, a St. Louis-baselawsuit2.gifd LCMS mission society, to hand out Christian literature during a “gay pride” event June 28-29 in Tower Grove Park.

U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey called “unconstitutional” the city’s ban on the distribution of “any advertisement, circular, or handbill in or adjoining any public park, place, or square.”

The mission society and two of its missionaries had filed a lawsuit May 1, seeking an injunction against the city for violation of their First Amendment rights to proclaim the Gospel in public places after the missionaries were threatened with arrest during a similar gay pride event in 2006 at the park.

At that time, Apple of His Eye founder Steve Cohen and senior missionary Alan Butterworth were told by park officials that they could not distribute literature or share personal testimonies with those attending the festival.

The mission society says it filed the lawsuit after making several unsuccessful attempts to resolve the matter with the City of St. Louis. The suit is being handled by the American Liberties Institute of Orlando, Fla.

In granting the mission society’s motion for a preliminary injunction, Autrey wrote, “While there may be attendees at PrideFest 2008 who may also object to plaintiffs’ distribution of religious literature or expression of religious views, their ‘injury,’ namely, the suffering of viewpoints with which they may disagree, is outweighed by the restriction of plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to express those views in a public forum.”

Apple of His Eye staff are not yet available to talk to Reporter about the lawsuit, which is still pending.

For more information about The Apple of His Eye, visit its Web site at www.appleofhiseye.org or call (636) 326-4040.

Posted July 3, 2008

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