United States: Certain fundies are always harping on about the evils of the ACLU, but tend to be strangely silent when that organisation supports the First Amendment rights of Christians, as well as everyone else. Take the case of Shawn Miller, who spent 109 days in jail for quietly preaching to his family, away from others.
My wife, our two children, and I had been going for three months to this same abandoned gas station without any incident. We were simply having a quiet Bible study on Sunday morning. The bank across the street is closed. There are two churches (Baptist & Methodist) on opposite corners from us. There is a minimal amount of car traffic and no pedestrian traffic. We are NOT there to be heard. We are simply there trying to let our light shine. We are NOT yelling at anyone because there is no one around. Sure, cars pass and see us, but there is no way we are disturbing them since we are 15 feet away from the sidewalk. This police officer decided to pick on us that day for some unknown reason. Officer Smart, Officer Wilson, and an animal control officer were in the parking lot adjacent to us at about 9:45 and they stayed for about 20-30 minutes. Then they all left. A sheriff's deputy watched us for about five minutes a week before that day. Many police cars had driven by throughout the previous months WITHOUT incident. Officer Smart then came back at 11:05. I went over to him and extended my hand and said,What is the problem, officer?He said,You need to tone it down.I said,I am preaching to my family and we are not bothering anyone. This is free speech and you can not stop me.He said,We have been getting phone calls about you pointing and yelling at cars.I said,I was not yelling at cars and was not pointing and I was not bothering anyone. This is free speech and you can not stop me. If you have a problem with me being on this property, I will go to the sidewalk.
He is also accused of resisting arrest, because he surrendered to the police.
I was standing on the sidewalk looking at the officers. Officer Smart said,Come back here.I did not want to get arrested for trespassing, so I stayed where I was. I said,No, I am staying on the sidewalk because it is public property.He then came towards me. I have seen the TV showCOPS. I thought it best to get on my knees and put my hands in the air to show that I was not resisting arrest.
Comment by Shawn Miller to Common Ground with the Religious Right—Dispatches from the Culture Wars, 28th August 2005. See also ACLU Defends Another Street Preacher—Dispatches from the Culture Wars, 28th August 2005.