US: Judge rules man can hand out Bibles at gay pride festival

An appeals court in America has ruled that a Christian man can continue to freely distribute Bibles at a gay pride festival.

A previous ruling from a lower court was reversed, and now Brian Johnson has the freedom to hand out Bibles at the Twin Cities Pride Fest in Minneapolis, as he had been doing for more than a decade.

Mr Johnson distributed Bibles every year from a booth at the festival from 1998 until 2009, when event organisers took issue with his beliefs and barred his stall.


When he returned the following year to give out Bibles without a booth, he was arrested by police for trespass and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said he must stay outside the confines of the festival.

Mr Johnson took the board to federal court, but a District Judge ruled that they had made reasonable provision for his Bible distribution.

Mr Johnson then appealed the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which has now ruled in his favour.


His legal case was backed by the Center for Religious Expression, a religious liberty organisation.

Nate Kellum, chief counsel for the group, said: “We are pleased that the appellate court recognizes the fundamental freedoms at stake for Johnson”.

He added: “In a public place during an event open to the public, Johnson has every right to share his views and contribute to the marketplace of ideas — just like everyone else.”


Recently two preachers in California who were arrested for reading the Bible aloud in public were found not guilty by a Superior Court judge.

Pastor Coronado and Mr Mackey were outside a local Government car registration centre in February 2011, when a California Highway Patrol officer took Mr Mackey’s Bible away and arrested him.

But a judge ruled that the prosecution’s case against the pair failed to prove the law had been broken.

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