Skip to comments.Man prosecuted for reading Bible at council meeting
Posted on 10/01/2004 6:27:16 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
Friday, October 1, 2004
An evangelical activist is being tried for reading the Bible at a meeting of the Lansdowne Borough Council in Pennsylvania.
According to the News of Delaware County, the president of the council called Lansdowne resident Michael Marcavage's reading "hate speech." Marcavage, who is director of the organization Repent America, faces charges for disrupting a public meeting.
The local paper reports Lansdowne Police Chief Daniel Kortan testified yesterday at a preliminary hearing. Kortan said Marcavage asked the council a question about comments made by recently appointed Councilman Kevin Lee, a Democrat and the first openly homosexual official in Delaware County. The chief says Marcavage then began reading from the Bible.
"I went to him and appealed to him," Kortan testified, according to the News. "'You had the microphone long enough. It's time to sit down and enjoy the meeting like the rest of the people or leave.' He refused. [President Norman Council] asked him to go back on target with a question instead of just reading."
According to the report, the council president adjourned the meeting and council members and various members of the audience filed into the hallway area.
"I told him, 'now you're leaving.' He asked, 'are you arresting me?' I said, 'not yet, but you're getting close.' He said, 'I must exercise my right of civil disobedience,'" Kortan testified. The police chief said he removed Marcavage using "the fireman's carry."
Marcavage's attorney is Steven Shields.
"The council president, who I believe is Mr. Council, said that's hate speech. What better way to squelch the messenger or silence the message than to arrest the messenger?" Shields is quoted as saying.
Countered Assistant District Attorney Alyssa Kusturiss: "Council perceived what he was reading as hate speech. It would be homophobic today. They couldn't let him go on. You can't go up to the podium and start reading from the Bible."
Kortan verified he had not used the charge of disrupting a public meeting in 24 years of police work.
Marcavage's arraignment is set for Oct. 28. He is free on $2,000 bail. During the preliminary hearing, the judge dismissed a counter charge of disorderly conduct against Democratic Councilman Elliot Borgman, who Marcavage says "whacked" him on the arm during the hallway dispute.
Really? This isn't Canada.
Most city councils loathe this stuff at meetings and have enacted things like 2 minutes per comment, limited sign up lists ect. to deal with stuff, just so they don't have to make value judgements on what a free speech disruption is.
The city will lose. The ADA probably has an agenda too, and saying:
>>Countered Assistant District Attorney Alyssa Kusturiss: "Council perceived what he was reading as hate speech. It would be homophobic today. They couldn't let him go on. You can't go up to the podium and start reading from the Bible." <<
Sure does not help her case. If she would have said he made threats, defamed members of the council, or any number of other things, she would have been okay. Why's she have to pick reading the Bible to be in a snit about?
Unbelievable how far we've fallen.I imagine the Koran would be ok though,or "Heather Has Two Mommies".
Schizophrenic Biblephobic ignorant mentaly ill morons rule apparently.
Such a reading at that meeting is inappropriate. Let's keep religion and government separate before the lefties figure out a way to ban religion as a way to save all-holy government.
Maybe the RNC was right to send out those flyers saying the Dim's want to ban the Bible.
Right of civil disobedience? Find that in the Constitution. What civil disobedience is all about is that you commit an illegal act as a protest against the law making the act illegal, and you then take the punishment as a further protest. When Thoreau popularized the term in his essay, he was protesting the poll tax by voting without paying it. But what people seem to forget is that he then went to jail rather than pay the fine, with the intent of staying there the full term of the sentence. He only got out because someone paid his fine without either his knowledge or consent. Now, if this guy wants to really perform civil disobedience, then he'll fire his lawyer and go to jail, under the concept that this outrageous treatment will spur public protest against the law and get it changed.
"The council president, who I believe is Mr. Council, said that's hate speech. What better way to squelch the messenger or silence the message than to arrest the messenger?" Shields is quoted as saying. Countered Assistant District Attorney Alyssa Kusturiss: "Council perceived what he was reading as hate speech. It would be homophobic today. They couldn't let him go on. You can't go up to the podium and start reading from the Bible."
Which just goes to show how bogus hate speech laws are. It shouldn't make any difference whether or not you're reading the Bible, the Torah, the Qu'ran, the Vedas, or your own thoughts. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and absent "shouting 'Fire!' in a crowded theater", which an opinion opposing homosexual behavior is not, the only proper remedy for free speech you don't like is for you to speak freely yourself.
As much as I hate to say this, if all he was doing was reading endlessly to disrupt the meeting, then he should have been arrested. If he was reading a limited passage to make a point, then he was within his rights.
After the council had asked him to be seated, however, he was guilty of disrupting a pubic meeting. I support his right to civil disobedience as a means of free speech, but I'm sure that he was well aware that the result of his actions would be his arrest. There's nothing wrong with civil disobedience as a public protest, as long as you don't whine about the resulting arrest and civil penalties.
"You can't go the podium and start reading from the bible" says everything.
On your blog, you say the RNC flyer about the Democrats wanting to ban the Bible was a mistake.
Read this article.
Are you still certain of that?
"You can't go up to the podium and start reading from the Bible." (Democrat Borough Councilman, Lansdowne, PA)
I agree. There is insufficient information provided to know which it was.
What's missing from this story is the subject of the preliminary hearing, and how long the speaker had been up there, and if there is a time limit on speakers.
There's no problem with quoting from the Bible, or the Koran, for that matter, at a public hearing. But, since we don't know what the subject of the hearing was, we don't know whether the passage was relevant or if it was just something directed at the gay councilman.
Having attended many, many council meetings, and having testified at the same number, I'm only too aware of how the public hearing process is abused by folks who testify to everything but the subject of the hearing. That's OK, as long as they stick to their time.
Sounds like this guy is ticked about the gay councilman and used the passage, probably from Leviticus, to express that discontent. I doubt it had anything to do with the subject of the hearing.
1) How do we get this to Fox News and to Ingraham, Rush, Hannity for wider dissemination?
2) How do we get this to Karl Rove and DNC for talking points?
3) Anti Christian bigotry is itself a hate crime.
4) Does anyone have contact information for that Councilman?
I never said he was the government, just the opposite.
Such meetings are inappropriate situations for reading the Bible. We don't live in a theocracy. That meeting was about government, and reading the Bible there is wrong. Just as some libbie jerk spouting off about abortion in a church would be.
Render unto Casesar what is Casesar's and all that.
this guy was wrong. I don't care if he was reading the back of a cereal box. He was disorderly.
G'morning friend, thanks for bumping.
You bring up seperation of church and state with this comment.Seperation of church and state is meant to keep government from interfering in or establishing religion. You are saying that this citizen can't or shouldn't bring up religion in a government setting when HE(not the government) has every right to do so.
I live in Lansdowne. Council president Norman Council--everyone calls him "Marty"--lives a few doors away from me. His wife is a particular friend of Mrs. P. He's far left, but he's a good man, and a patient one. I watch some of the council meetings on TV, and have even attended a couple, and he let's people have their say within reason, and even a little bit beyond.
I didn't witness the incident, but it sounds like disruption, and it sounds like Marty acted appropriately to maintain order. Just because the guy's reading from the Bible doesn't mean he has carte blanche.
Marty's moving away from Lansdowne soon, and resigning from the council. I don't want to hear anyone here claiming some sort of victory when he does. I can't say I'll miss him from the council, but we'll sorely miss them as neighbors. 'Nuff said.
What should have happened is this:Man gives his views regarding the Bible;Council should have thanked him for his voice and then told him that they cannot comment due to seperation of church and state.It's over,then and there.His right of free speech is not infringed and the council has made no comment regarding religion.Sounds more like it got into a pissing match between the two and then the council brings up the "idea" that quoting the Bible is not included in free speech,when in fact it is.As is quoting the Koran,Torah,or even the Sunday Funny Pages.
I am not a "Constitutionalist" hard core republican actually - but at what point did the actions of our first pres become absolutely forbidden?
George Washington quoted scripture very very frequently, at all types of events and occassions - as was the norm until this current zeal for anti-Christianity...
With all due respect for your familiarity with this man. If he's far left he's not a good man. He may be patient, likeable, gentle, even charitable and generous, but he's not good. A good man would not be in favor of slaughtering children in the womb. Or of legitimizing sexual perversity. Or of destroying the family.
If he's far left, as you say he is, then he stands against all that is good and right. He cannot be against what is good and still be called good.
Good democrat (leftist) = oxymoron
Don't ascribe a position to me that I don't have, please.
City councils never listen to what the audience says, their minds are made up long before the meeting.
Robert's Rules of Order don't seem to prevail today.
An apostrophe in lets?
It seems they were justified in arresting him if he was in fact speaking out of order. But the comment about not being able to read the Bible from the podium is way uncalled for.
You got that right. Kinda like the Inquisition...or the ACLU.
He would have been removed even faster if he had been reading from the dictionary. This isn't about the bible. It's about a filibuster.
I would certainly agree with you on that point. It was also out of order to refer to the Bible reading as "hate speech".
NARRATIVE OF INCIDENT AT THE LANSDOWNE BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING ON JULY 21 7/21/04
Written and compiled by Michael Marcavage
[Please note: The following incident occurred at the 7:30 p.m. Lansdowne Borough Council meeting on July 21st in the presence of all council members, the public, a Comcast television news camera, and other members of the media.]
Yesterday, July 21, I attended the Lansdowne Borough Council meeting concerning a comment made to the Philadelphia Gay News by Kevin Lee, who is the newly-appointed gay activist to the council. Several people spoke during the public comment/question period, in which I then followed. I addressed the council by saying [on camera] "Good Evening. I just wanted to express a couple of things this evening. First being at the direction that the council is leading our community. I recently read a statement by Mr. Lee, the newly appointed council member, in the Philadelphia Gay News. And he had confessed that 'the gay community and the borough council hope this [his appointment] will lead to more gay and lesbian people moving to town.'" I then asked, "I'm just curious if that is the consensus of the council. Is that the desire the council wants to proceed in is leading more gay and lesbian to the town?" Mr. Norman Council, president of the borough council, then stated, "My desire is to have anybody who wants to come to Lansdowne and live to be able to come to Lansdowne and live." I then said I would like to share from the Scripture concerning homosexuality. It was apparent that Mr. Council was angry, as he informed me that "we are not going to have this discussion." I then told him that "I would just like to read the scripture verse, and then I'll sit down." He prevented me from reading from the Bible through interruption, referring to the Scripture I was about to read as being "hate speech" and that I twist Scripture. I then informed him that I will "read it as it is". Mr. Council replied, "I understand, but we're not gonna have it. It's not gonna happen." I told Mr. Council that he may be able to limit my time, but could not change the content of my speech. He said, "Ok well, what I'm going to do is limit your time. It's up!" I then stated, "That's just an unfair practice... You have to stay consistent with the other speakers." Mr. Council continued, "I am not going to allow you to come before this council and use it as a forum to engage in hate speech, it's simply not going to happen." I then said, "Mr. Council the Bible is not hate speech." Mr. Council further insisted that I twist Scripture. I respectfully petitioned him to allow me to proceed as motions were made to adjourn the meeting. The motion to adjourn passed as I began to read from Romans 1, although the council left the room completely, residents of the borough still remained.
Nearing completion of the Scripture reading, Chief Kortan placed his hands on my arms, as I got down on one knee, he then dragged me into the hall. During this time, I asked him, "Am I under arrest?" He said loudly, "You are not under arrest." "Am I breaking the law?" I asked. "The council does not want you here anymore!" he angrily replied. In the hallway, I contested with him and said, "This is a public meeting, and I have the right to speak during the public comment period." He then said, "They don't want to hear from you anymore!" He was extremely angry as I continued to explain why I had a right to be there and to address the council.
While speaking to the angry police chief, council member Elliot Borgam aggressively approached me in the hallway while yelling, and then hit me as hard as he could on my left arm with the back of his semi-clenched hand. I then said, "I was just assaulted by Mr. Borgman." Chief Kortan ordered Mr. Borgman into the room and said, "I saw it." He assured me that Mr. Borgman would be charged with "Disorderly Conduct." Chief Kortan then stated, "We need to talk about it downstairs." During one point, I asked Mr. Kortan if I was being charged with a crime, in which he replied, "No, you are not." As soon as the elevator door opened, I was grabbed by Mr. Kortan and physically thrown into, and slammed up against the back of the elevator wall. It appeared from my quick glance that everyone in the nearby council meeting room (through the glass window) turned to see what happened, after hearing the loud noises that were created by Mr. Kortan's physical actions against me. While the door was closing, I told Chief Kortan that "this is a violation of my civil rights." Getting right in my face, he angrily replied, "F--k your civil rights!"
Since we were on the second floor, it did not take long to reach the first floor. When the door opened, we exited the elevator and were then in the presence of police dispatcher Jo Pannell, Officer Lawrence Smalley, and an unidentified officer in another hallway who was walking about and occasionally glancing in our direction with heightened curiosity.
At this point, Mr. Kortan became extremely verbally abusive, making all kinds of outlandish statements with the use of profanity. I told him that "we should take a few moments to collect our thoughts." He refused, and continued to yell as loud as he could. I sat down in a nearby chair, but he leaned over and continued to yell in my face. I told him that he was "out of line" and that he needed to "calm down." He continued to yell and use profanity stating that he is a citizen too, and that he can do as he pleases. I said "you are currently acting in the capacity of a police officer" and concluded with "Mr. Kortan, this needs to stop." He then replied, "Don't call me Mr. Kortan! Only my friends call me Mr. Kortan. You are to address me as Chief Kortan!" I stepped further away from him because it appeared that his irrational anger could lead him to more violence. During Chief Kortan's fit of rage, I told him that I never seen such behavior by a police officer before. "It's about time; it should have been done to you a long time ago," he responded. I then telephoned 911 for advice on the situation. The dispatcher informed me that I need to report the matter to the DA's office, in which they provided a telephone number.
Before leaving, I contacted 911 and asked if would be possible to file a report about what happened. The dispatcher told me that they would have someone come to the borough hall to take my report. The radio call went to Officer Lawrence Smalley who was standing directly in front of me. I provided him with all the information, and he told me that the report will be available for you tomorrow. During the final moments of my departure, I asked if charges were going to be brought against Mr. Borgman. Chief Kortan stated, "If you want charges brought against Mr. Borgman, I will do so." I told him "yes."
After leaving Lansdowne Borough Hall, the location of the meeting/incident, I drove to the nearest Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Media, Pennsylvania, and filed a report with Corporal John T. Malone (tel: 484-840-1000).
No charges were brought against me, and according to Chief Kortan, none will be.
Update: Chief Kortan called me the next day stating that he "thought about it overnight and decided to charge me" with "Disrupting Meetings and Procesions" and "Disorderly Conduct."
Based on the account, if accurate, then the council was incorrect to do this. Those testifying at a council meeting may speak as they wish during public comment time, and the council may not prevent them, as long as their speech is not obscene or inciteful of a riot.
In California, the law is very clear. It's called the "Brown Act," and government bodies that don't follow it are in big trouble.
It may be different there, but the principle is the same.
The gentleman can read from the Bible if he wishes or, for that matter, from the Koran, during his time before the board. That is what the First Amendment is about, being able to freely address our government in whatever manner we choose.
The council was wrong. This gentleman is right. He has grounds for action.
Your reply is utterly irrational. Seek help.
So truth has been defined as hate speech-how convenient for the liars of the country. The First Amendment only protects the right of the people to tell lies?
Sorry, you are late. They are in the process of it as we post.
Apparently, you don't think even a minimum of respect is due.
It's this sort of statement that gives Freepers a bad reputation.
Sure, if it is intended to mean let us.
Considering the group among which Freepers have a bad reputation, we can all consider it a badge of honor.
There are two homosexual couples (one male, one female) on my block. They are excellent neighbors. Any sin they commit is none of my business, none of Michael Marcavage's business, and certainly no business of anyone outside of our community.
Michael Marcavage is within his rights to be a bigot, if that's his idea of a religion. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to live near him. It looks like everyone would be happier if he just moved away.
And don't anyone try to put an anti-Christian spin on my words. The two best friends I ever had in this neighborhood were both Christian ministers; one still lives just down the street. I'd do just about anything for them. Theirs, at least, is not a false Christianity.
If any of you are thinking of backing this Marcavage guy up, please know beforehand with whom you associate. Here's an article from March of this year:
Preacher is jailed on sex charges
Against an emotional backdrop, a Philadelphia preacher convicted of trying to solicit sex from a West Chester teenager was sentenced yesterday to four to 10 years in prison.
The Rev. Craig Stephen White, a fiery street sermonizer known as "Brother Stephen," showed no reaction as Chester County Court Judge Anthony Sarcione imposed the punishment, which also included five years' probation.
"We are very pleased with Judge Sarcione's well-thought-out and appropriate sentence," said Assistant District Attorney Kimberly A. Callahan, who had requested four to eight years in prison.
Defense attorney Robert J. Donatoni said an appeal was being considered.
"Yes, it's a significant amount of time, but under the sentencing guidelines, it could have been worse," Donatoni said, calling the sentence "balanced and fair."
During the hearing, Donatoni presented witnesses who talked about the impact of White's ministry on children in North Philadelphia.
"I have nothing but positive [things] to say about Brother Stephen," said Evelyn Whitfield, a mother of five who credits White with encouraging her boys to pursue college.
White's wife, Lori, told Sarcione that her husband's imprisonment would be a hardship for her and the couple's three children, ages 5, 4, and 20 months.
Callahan presented testimony from the victim, his mother, and his aunt, who all focused on the negative impact of the crime.
"I feel degraded and feel no one has the right to rob someone of their innocence," said the victim, who is now 15 and finds himself "always looking over" his shoulder.
Speaking on his own behalf, White, 40, said he received a calling to be an evangelist at the age of 18. He said he came to Philadelphia 10 years ago because it was a spiritually needy region.
After the hearing, the victim and his family expressed relief.
"Justice was served," the victim's mother said.
Lori White left the courtroom with about a dozen supporters.
"I maintain my husband's innocence," she said.
Michael Marcavage, a character witness at White's trial, had been ejected earlier after Callahan expressed concern about an Internet site that offered a $5,000 reward for information on both the victim and prosecutors that might help free White.
Marcavage, 24, of Lansdowne, became agitated, stood up, and accused Callahan of lying. He also admitted setting up the Web site before being escorted from the courthouse.
Brother Stephen White was a notorious preacher of hatred here in the Philadelphia region long before being exposed as a pederast. That Marcavage tried to subvert the process of justice on behalf of a hate-mongering pederast speaks volumes. I hope nobody again tries to associate FreeRepublic with this filth.
It wasn't; it was used in the same sense as "allow."
Thanks for the update and the insight.
Okay, we'll go with guilt by association.
We'll call it "The Downside Legacy at Two Degrees of FreeRepublic". :-)
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