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.