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-Gilbert, Arizona: Equal Free Speech Access for Everyone Except Churches?

by Dr. D ~ April 10th, 2013


(Pictures from Alliance Defending Freedom)

It is becoming common in many cities of America to discriminate against churches particularly when it comes to zoning and sometimes even when it comes to giving away food or water in the name of Jesus. But in Gilbert, Arizona everyone has free speech rights to display signs near roads and intersections in the town except Christian churches which must adhere to special restrictions.

The Town administrators have decided to restrict the free speech rights of Christians when it comes to public access. The city says yes to politicians who want to display their large advertising signs but treat church signs differently and require restrictive rules not placed upon others. See the contrasting pictures above. From an article by Jeremy Tedesco of ADF:

Town officials view the sign on the left, which advertises our client’s Church services, as a constitutional crisis, and thus impose incredibly stringent limitations on the placement of such signs.  Yet these same officials see no problem with the proliferation of political signs, like those depicted in the picture on the right.  In fact, we presented the court with dozens of pictures showing how the Town permits the placement of numerous political signs at intersections throughout Gilbert.

The constitutional problem with the Town’s sign code is that it treats temporary signs VASTLY differently based on what they say.  In First Amendment parlance, this is called “content-based discrimination,” and it is a major constitutional no-no.

The Town’s sign code violates this core First Amendment principle in many ways.  One of them is by imposing highly restrictive requirements (related to size, duration, etc.) on the Church’s signs that it does not impose on similar temporary signs, like political and ideological signs.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This is another one of those situations where churches are being discriminated against and singled out for restrictions and rules that are not placed upon others.

The whole point of the First Amendment was to insure the freedom of religion and eliminate restrictive legislation against it. However now in the beginning of the 21th century the amendment has been high jacked by judicial fiat and is now routinely  used under the guise of the supposed ‘separation of church and state’ (which is not actually in the Constitution) to mean exactly the opposite of the original intent. Now we are actually experiencing a proliferation of discriminating restrictions and rules against Christians and churches when it comes to public access. All in the name of the First Amendment which was originally written to guard against discriminating actions of the state against religious organizations and people of faith.

A three judge panel of the 9th circuit has already ruled against the church in this case. ADF lawyers are now trying to get the entire 9th circuit to reconsider the case even though that Court of Appeals is among the worst when it comes to religious freedom. Please pray that they are successful.            *Top

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2 Responses to -Gilbert, Arizona: Equal Free Speech Access for Everyone Except Churches?

  1. Brian

    This is the same Gilbert Arizona who tried to ban home Bible studies by evangelicals several years ago. This is, therefore, not an isolated incident but is part of a larger pattern of hostility to Christianity (and, I suspect, a more focused hostility towards one particular branch of Christianity).


  2. -Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Arizona Church and Free Speech | ANSWERS For The Faith

    […] Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of a small church in Gilbert, Arizona that was having problems with city over their street signs. The city restricted and threatened the church with fines over their temporary street signs but did […]

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