Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note: In an almost unbelievable case a pastor in California and his colleague went on trial this week after being arrested for reading a Bible in public outside of a California Department of Motor Vehicles. The initial charge against the pastor was “preaching to a captive audience” until it was pointed out that no penal code in California says such a thing. The pastor was then charged with obstructing a lawful business, but the DMV was not even open at the time the pastor was reading from the Bible. Finally prosecutors decided to charge the pastor with conducting a protest on state grounds without a permit, something which Advocates for Faith and Freedom is contesting, saying that the reading of a Bible does not constitute a protest or demonstration.   
8/6/2013 United States (Charisma) – The case of two men arrested while reading the Bible—out loud and in public—went to trial on Monday, over a year after the events transpired.
The men were arrested when they went to their local DMV in Hemet, Calif., and read from the Bible aloud as people stood in line for the DMV to open. When the first California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer arrived on the scene, he grabbed the Bible away from the man reading it and said he could not “preach to a captive audience.”
There is no penal code that says such a thing, so the officer later cited them for violating California Penal Code Section 602.1(b), which provides:
“Any person who intentionally interferes with any lawful business carried on by the employees of a public agency open to the public, by obstructing or intimidating those attempting to carry on business, or those persons there to transact business with the public agency … is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 90 days, or by a fine of up to four hundred dollars ($400), or by both that imprisonment and fine.”
This penal code is meant to protect businesses from protesters who intimidate patrons and block entrances. In this case, the DMV was not yet open at the time the men were there, and they were standing approximately 40 feet away from the entrance of the building.
After Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed a federal lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol for unlawful arrest, Riverside County district attorney Paul Zellerbach decided to charge the men with trespassing on state property, a misdemeanor offense under Title 13 of the California Administrative Code, Section 1860(a), which says, “No person shall hold or conduct any demonstration or gathering in or upon any state buildings or grounds unless a permit has been issued by the Department.”
The trial began Monday at the Riverside County Superior Court in Murrieta, Calif., and is expected to last approximately four to five days. Criminal defense attorney Nic Cocis of Murrieta and Robert Tyler, general counsel of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, will be defending pastor Bret Coronado and Mark Mackey.
Tyler remarked, “These men were exercising their First Amendment right of free speech. They were simply sharing their faith on public property, and we will defend their constitutional right to do so. This prosecution amounts to nothing more than retaliation for our filing a federal lawsuit.”

[Full Story]