Skip to comments.Baptists Can't Sue Over Festival Preaching Rules
Posted on 08/14/2012 9:02:10 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
CHICAGO (CN) - A group of Baptists lack standing to sue Chicago over preaching restrictions at a summer festival hosted by a nearby Catholic church, the 7th Circuit ruled.
The three-judge panel ruled that the city has no official policy threatening the group's First Amendment right to preach at the annual summer event.
The St. Symphorosa Catholic Church hosts a multiday public festival each year, during which it obtains a city permit to close portions of two public streets to traffic.
In 2008 Frank Teesdale, pastor of the Garfield Baptist Church a few blocks away, attended the festival with members of his church as part of a street ministry. The Baptists carried a bullhorn, signs and banners, and handed out gospel tracts to attendees.
One of St. Symphorosa's private security guards, an off-duty Chicago police officer named Ray Kolasinski, told Teesdale that he could preach at the festival, but could not use the bullhorn or distribute unapproved literature.
When Teesdale refused to cooperate, Kolasinski handcuffed him and brought him to the police station. Teesdale was arrested on trespass charges, which were eventually dismissed, and the pastor was released on bond later that evening.
Almost a year later, the church, its pastor and four congregants sued the city, claiming it violated their First Amendment rights and Teesdale's Fourth Amendment rights.
Three days before the 2009 festival, the Baptist church sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to safeguard their right to preach at the upcoming festival.
The city filed a rushed response, arguing that St. Symphorosa could exclude the Baptists, and that the city had a "significant interest" in siding with the Catholic church.
At the district court's urging, the two groups came to a temporary agreement allowing the Baptists to attend the festival and preach without a bullhorn or large signs.
Meanwhile, the case proceeded in federal court, and in March 2010 U.S. District Judge William Hart dismissed the First Amendment claims, ruling that the city had no official policy violating the plaintiffs' rights.
The Fourth Amendment claims continued to discovery, and last May, Hart ruled in part for the city. He said officers had probable cause to arrest Teesdale for disorderly conduct, but he sided with the Baptists on their claim that the city's official policy jeopardizing their First Amendment rights at future festivals.
Judge Daniel Manion of the 7th Circuit said Hart's decision "was based on the city counsel's misguided legal argument" that the Baptists "did not have an unlimited First Amendment right to preach at the festival and that St. Symphorosa could exclude the plaintiffs in order to preserve its message."
Hart had inferred from the parties' temporary agreements - the 2009 and 2010 standby orders - that the city "continues to contend it can lawfully stop plaintiffs' proposed expression."
During oral argument, the city conceded that its underlying legal argument was faulty and that the city has no official policy barring the Baptists from preaching at upcoming festivals. Though the city's about-face essentially rendered the case moot, the 7th Circuit had to decide if the city's earlier position could be construed as an official policy.
"We hold that it does not," Manion wrote. "A mere legal position, without anything more, is insufficient to constitute an official policy."
The 7th Circuit vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss.
....In 2008 Frank Teesdale, pastor of the Garfield Baptist Church a few blocks away, attended the festival with members of his church as part of a street ministry. The Baptists carried a bullhorn, signs and banners, and handed out gospel tracts to attendees....When Teesdale refused to cooperate, Kolasinski handcuffed him and brought him to the police station. Teesdale was arrested on trespass charges, which were eventually dismissed, and the pastor was released on bond later that evening. Almost a year later, the church, its pastor and four congregants sued the city, claiming it violated their First Amendment rights and Teesdale's Fourth Amendment rights....
....[In 2009] The city filed a rushed response, arguing that St. Symphorosa could exclude the Baptists, and that the city had a "significant interest" in siding with the Catholic church....
....the case proceeded in federal court, and in March 2010 U.S. District Judge William Hart dismissed the First Amendment claims, ruling that the city had no official policy violating the plaintiffs' rights....
....Judge Daniel Manion of the 7th Circuit said Hart's decision "was based on the city counsel's misguided legal argument" that the Baptists "did not have an unlimited First Amendment right to preach at the festival and that St. Symphorosa could exclude the plaintiffs in order to preserve its message."
From a Chicago Tribune article:
Teesdale said he agrees with some of what Westboro says but said he doesn’t agree with their word choices and some of the venues they choose.
21 You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment. 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, You fool! will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
I didn’t catch the Westboro angle from the article.
I am somewhat familiar with them.
But not to worry; they are a cult and I am not a member.
And no true Baptist would ever align themselves with this cult.
Catholicism is not a cult.
How Old is Your Church?
The Catholic Church was founded by Christ on the apostles.
I was speaking about the Westboro group. Shees
I believe was talking about the Westboro crew, not the Catholic Church.
Fred P. is a defrocked Primative Baptist IIRC, I had some experience with them in the hills of VA.
Primatives were snake handlers, etc. Full Gospel.
I remember going to a backwoods church in VA in the late 70’s to hear Win Worley, a Baptist exorcist out of Indiana.
It was a real deal- it took several of us to hold down a 13 year-old girl who was being delivered...
Pretty wild shit. Google Win Worley.
Gosh Salvation, you are usually better then this.
If the Baptist Church went to all the trouble of getting permits and organizing a festival, I doubt they would be too happy if a group of Catholics used a bullhorn to preach and hand out tracts to the festival attendees. I fully agree the Baptists have a right to be there at the Catholic event - since it is on public property - and speak to people interested in talking to them and to hand out tracts, but a bullhorn is a little too much. They should at least be respectful of those who did the organizing and planning and not try to ruin the event. That just causes disruption and resentment. The pastor should not have been arrested nor charged, though. JMHO
This is what pisses me off about you evangelicals and your sanctimonious proselytizing..
Please leave us Catholics alone......
(Don’t get me started on who the One True Church REALLY is.....)
Fred is a special case, to be sure. It’s more like an extortion ring than a church. They try to stir up trouble so they can sue. Multiple lawyers in the group. Nothing remotely like real PB folks.
BTW, I hung out with the PBs for a while. No snake handling. No exorcism. A great deal of Bible, though, and their own unique version of succession direct from the apostle Paul. And wonderful singers too. No musical instruments allowed. I don’t know who your snake handlers were, but I’d bet a fair sum they weren’t classic PBs.
He's a Kansas Democrat and Gore supporter.
They’re talking about the Westboro goons.
From the article I just posted the link to, it sounds like a preacher with a bullhorn would be an obnoxious intrusion on the games, bands, food, and fun for the families trying to have a good time.
And I think that is probably exactly his intention.
A bullhorn impinging on your hearing at such an event is offensive in that: (1) though the 1st Amendment guarantees a right to speak on public property, does not give one the right to make another listen if he/she/they do not wish it, thus making its use a nuisance; and (2) the horn will doubtless exceed statutory sound level limits to be effective, and thus be unlawful.
Seems as though the festival leaders have been very generous in their offer to accept the Baptists' presence, if they can get anyone to listen to them without rudely forcing their message on the attenders (who have probably not come to hear a religious message from any one, but just to be entertained with food, games, and articles to buy).
I do not see anywhere in the Bible that preaching style is urged to be insistently annoying to an unwilling hearer. In contrast,remember Christ's Golden Rule.
Just like every other Christian church.
Oh to see the Catholics out in the streets doing a little more open armed “sanctimonious proselytyzing”....
Most ignore street preacher, but court heeded his argument (Jun 17, 2011)
The Baptist pastor cautions that the Roman Catholic Church is a false path to salvation, homosexuality is an abomination and adultery is a sin.
Teesdale won additional affirmation last month from a federal judge who ruled that police violated his First Amendment rights by arresting him for preaching at the St. Symphorosa Family Festival, an annual festival sponsored by a Catholic church.
The church had a permit to use the streets surrounding the parish, but U.S. District Judge William Hart ruled that those streets were public and that Teesdale had a right to be there, under certain ground rules. He also ordered the city to pay Teesdale's legal expenses.
Troubled by the language in the ruling, the city plans to file a motion for Hart to reconsider his ruling and rejects any notion that it has implications beyond Teesdale, since the city has no policy against street preaching.
Teesdale said he has been unfairly maligned and compared with members of Westboro Baptist Church, the tiny Kansas congregation known for mounting anti-gay demonstrations outside the funerals of fallen soldiers. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Westboro had a right to protest, even if the group's message was regarded as offensive. Westboro perhaps is best known for the gay epithets on the church's "God hates" placards.
Teesdale said he agrees with some of what Westboro says but said he doesn't agree with their word choices and some of the venues they choose. For example, he said, he prefers biblical terms such as "sodomites" and "reprobates" to describe homosexuals.
"That's what God calls them," he said. "You can have the right message and so smear the testimony you can really do more harm than good."
Teesdale was arrested in July 2008 for refusing to leave the premises of the St. Symphorosa Family Festival. Church security called police because the pastor wouldn't stop using his bullhorn.
Joe Dillon, the business manager of St. Symphorosa, said the disturbance had nothing to do with the content of Teesdale's message. Teesdale refused to put down his megaphone, Dillon said.
Though charges were dropped, Teesdale sued to make sure other street preachers wouldn't face the same treatment, and won in U.S. District Court. Hart set ground rules, limiting the amount of signage and silencing the bullhorn.
Jenny Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city's Law Department, said the city has no blanket policy against street preaching or distributing leaflets. Arresting officers believed that Teesdale was on protected property and that his bullhorn amplified his message beyond the city's sound restrictions, she said.
"What happened at this festival is pretty fact-specific," Hoyle said, adding that the city plans to file a motion to reconsider. "It doesn't demonstrate any policy one way or the other."
The entire piece is interesting.
They have very little publicity, but there are a few knock-off churches around the country, mostly in very obscure places/, that I would consider to be “Westboro-satellites”. I know of a group in southern Indiana that hold protests in a square of a small town and they are largely in the same vein as Phelpsism.
>> PBs... No snake handling. No exorcism. A great deal of Bible, though
Yes, and around here they’re into foot washing, but no snakes. I think foot washing is about as “strange” as it gets. (Except for those who believe that taking the word of God literally is strange.)
Of course, washing *my* feet might be a tad more dangerous than handling a rattlesnake. Wear a mask. :-)
Theologically, I’m a lot more “Baptist” than I am “Catholic”.
But if the Baptists want to preach with a megaphone and hang big signs and pass out literature, why don’t they get their OWN permit from the city to close the streets, and knock themselves out?
So I tend to side with the Catholics on this one.
If the courts allowed these Baptists into the religious festival to spread their message, the atheists wouldn’t be far behind?
As stated in the Tribune article from a year ago (linked above), the issue was not that they were there. It was not that they were trying to spread their version of the Gospel. The issue was not that they were handing out tracts. The issue was the volume level. The signs. The bullhorn.
This was an appeal that this group lost. But even in the original case, that the city appealed, the judge in that case said they had the right to be there, but not with the signs and not with the bullhorn. From the Tribune article: Hart (the district court judge) set ground rules, limiting the amount of signage and silencing the bullhorn.
Public festivals are a big part of traditional Catholic life. They occur on days commemorating the lives of saints and other key dates throughout the year. Those festivals are sponsored or encouraged by the Church as a part of inculcating the Faith into the day to day lives of people. From living over in Europe and having attended these types of things on a regular basis, you can believe me when I say that not everybody that attends those festivals is a regular Sunday Mass Catholic. Not even close. And that is not an issue.
But what Teesdale and his group were doing with the bullhorns and the placards was not "free speech." It was more akin to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. An activity that has never been permitted.
That's true if you reject actual history.
No, it's false only if you rewrite history.
Srsly: (check my tag line) How do you defrock a Baptist minister? Who has the authority?
I do think we’ve forgotten that our polity not only depends on the our being a religious and moral people but also on courtesy. “Politeness” and “civility” are both words which, at their root, suggest something about the arts of living in community.
I think boatbums is on the money. I could see, for example, Dominican friars in their habits strolling through a festival organized by Baptists, but I would deplore their taking a bullhorn and making general addresses as much as I would deplore a Muslim coming to a mint-julep party and turning the conversation to the evils of drink.
Oh yes, forgot about the footwashing. Definitely a challenge. :)
The Parks & Rec security people were going to make them leave but my colleague Pastor Pete intevened and said they could stay if they remained on the perimeter sidewalk (a bit away from where most of us were) and if they refrained from chanting.
So they stayed and trudged 'round and 'round with their signs til they got good and redfaced (it was a hot day.) Then some Christian moms went ove and offered them popsicles, which 6 out of 7 gratefully accepted. Removed masks. Had a few decent conversations with us. Left when they finished their popsicles.
I think we ended up with a more accurate assessment of each other. They saw we weren't hostile spitting right wing nuts. We saw they were just young fools whose bravado wilted under the hot sky, and whose anarchist resistance yielded to strawberry ice.
Basic common sense, decency and manners would inform the Baptists that it is a CATHOLIC festival and they are guests at the festival.
If the Baptists want a Baptist festival, have one! If the city disallows it, sue them.
Christians act like socially retarded, amoral humanist radicals now.
Well,If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for Texas! /s
Reminiscent of Ma and Pa Ferguson..
Obviously Teesdale has overstepped his authority in this situation. Baptist Churches tend to be more local in their ecclesiology, but I haven’t been able to find a copy of their Covenant amongst their Church members on the web, but I did find 2 different postings of who their Pastor is for Garfield Ridge Baptist Church in Chicago. One associated with Teesdale has the same phone number as another pastor from 2008 for the same church name.
Also the lawsuit was filed by Teesdale, not the Church, so IMHO, its a stretch, even for an individual to claim their 1st amendment rights are violated when they are speaking in public with a bullhorn but no permit.
God is not a God of confusion. Refusing to not speak with the bullhorn in that environment when requested by local authority doesn’t appear to be compliant with the rule of law. Worse, it violates the order of other believers who established the forum.
Don't you mean some Christians act like socially retarded, amoral humanist radicals now? I would even say that "some" is a very small minority. Genuine, spirit-filled, Christ-centered believers would know the proper way to act and would act properly.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Can’t be a whole Christian without the whole counsel of God.