The city of Overland Park, Kansas has been forced to pay $50,000 in legal fees after city officials prohibited a Christian soccer ministry from distributing flyers outside a local sports complex. Gordon Hunjak of “Victory Through Jesus Sports Ministries Foundation” was handing out information about his program on a public sidewalk when police threatened to arrest him if he did not stop. Shortly after, a legal challenge was filed against the city, in which the court ruled in favor of Hunjak on account of a violation of his First Amendment rights.
08/06/2014 United States (Christian News Network) – A city in Kansas has payed $50,000 in attorney’s fees after a court ruled that it had violated the First Amendment rights of Christians who sought to distribute materials about their soccer camp outside of a city-owned soccer complex.
In April 2012, Gordon Hunjak of Victory Through Jesus Sports Ministries Foundation sought to distribute flyers about his ministry’s soccer camp inside the fencing of the Overland Park Soccer Complex. When he—along with his wife and sons—were directed to stop, they moved outside the fence and began distributing the information on the walkway near the gate. Hunjak was again asked to cease his activities.
Hunjak then met with city officials, who outlined where literature distribution was not permitted, including on the sidewalks surrounding the facility. When the ministry attempted to pass out literature a third time, police threatened arrest. At the time of the incident, the city’s ban was an unwritten regulation, but was soon codified, declaring the area to be a non-public forum.
Hunjak, who has distributed literature at other soccer fields owned by the city without issue, then contacted the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for assistance. The group soon filed a legal challenge against the city, seeking an injunction against its ban on engaging in free speech activities on the sidewalks surrounding the complex.
The city argued in return that the regulation was necessary to prevent littering and to ensure proper pedestrian traffic flow.
In May of this year, the United States District Court in Kansas issued a permanent injunction against the regulation, ruling in favor of Hunjak and Victory Through Jesus Sports Ministries Foundation.