Sharia law trumps U.S. Constitution in Dearborn

Via AP and PowerLine:

Four Christian evangelists were arrested on charges of “disorderly conduct” for distributing copies of the Gospel of John on a public street outside an Arab cultural festival in Dearborn, Michigan, which is heavily Muslim. One of the men filmed the event and had his camera confiscated, even though he wasn’t distributing the gospel tracts. Both the arrest and the request to stop videotaping are atrocious violations of the First Amendment.

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7 thoughts on “Sharia law trumps U.S. Constitution in Dearborn

  1. I’ve seen this video on several sites today. What strikes me as I watch it is that it feels like this is more about politics than about faith. Not that politics is wrong, but I do wonder what message it sends to the non-Christian community. I don’t see very many people exercising their 1st Amendment rights to pass out such literature unless to prove that they have such rights, which for a Christian is not the point at all. Something is missing here. Would the earliest disciples be uptight because they had lost a political right? Or would they rejoice that they had seized an opportunity, regardless of the outcome? Is our goal a nation of rights-exercisers or a nation of people free in Christ? Having lived in China where we couldn’t pass out any such literature, I didn’t notice such restrictions crimping the faith of the believers or the growth of the church. Just wondering…

    1. I see what you’re saying, but after all, Paul had no reservations asserting his rights as a Roman citizen when he was arrested in Jerusalem and throughout his trial.

      1. What you say about Paul is true, Derek. But I don’t see Paul using a sting-like operation to assert his rights. He sometimes preached when he was allowed to, he sometimes preached when he wasn’t and willingly went to jail, and sometimes he just left town. I guess I would want to know how much people were exercising their first Amendment rights to preach the gospel in this town before those rights were taken away. The answer tells me a bit more about the motive involved here.

  2. @Howard:

    I thought this was a “sting” or “provocation” too at first. However, I think this may have been the second of two encounters with the police, the earlier having gone untaped. The second one, then, was taped to document the police’s unconstitutional response.

    This is a matter of simple justice, it seems to me, and I find it odd that you’re questioning the evangelists’ motives. Would you have responded differently to Freedom Riders’ attempt to integrate Woolworth’s lunch counter? That too was a deliberatively provocative act asserting a constitutional right.


  3. You do raise a good point about the freedom riders. I think I was seeing this more in the light of “willing martyrs” coming to China that I experienced so often when I was over there. Having said that, there is a vast difference between African-Americans in the segregated south and these evangelists in Detroit. They are not unfree to share their faith with these Arab-Americans. They are just restricted from doing so in this manner (which is why I relate it more to my China experiences than the Woolworth experience). Which is also why I’d like to know more about the intent of the law and also the thinking of the police officers on that day. Restrictions on solicitations are not uncommon in American cities and for a variety of reasons, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Such 1st Amendment rights challenges are a frequent concern in court cases, which is a positive thing (including those brought by the ACLU), but I prefer to know more before making blanket statements that incite fear of Muslims taking over America (what others have said in response to this video, not you). Thanks for the clarification on the sting operation.

  4. Here is a link to the blog of Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries, which is the group whose members were arrested in Dearborn, MI:

    There were two incidents:

    The first incident took place inside the festival on Friday night. Four members of Acts 17 were arrested and spent the night in jail, three men and one woman.

    The second incident took place outside the festival on Sunday and is the one recorded in the video I posted. This does not seem to have involved jail time. Rather, it involved a brief detention.

    Here is a response to FAQs the group is being asked:

    Draw your own conclusions; I’m rethinking mine.

  5. Thanks, George, for the follow up links. Still not sure what to make of it all, though I’ve been writing a book that I hope to have out before the end of the year that addresses some of these very concerns from my own study of the Word and my own experience. I’d be interested to hear more from you on the issue as time goes by.

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