“And they called them, and commanded them
not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.”
“Yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
1 Corinthians 9:16
Jailed for Preaching the Gospel . . . in America!!!
One year ago, the City of Lincolnton, NC, passed two ordinances that violate both the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution. Lincolnton officials specifically (and illegally) targeted the peaceful, protected activities of street preachers. The following spring, city police issued “City Ordinance Ticket[s]” (written on parking tickets) to Pastors Jeffrey and Jeremy Shook while the brothers preached outside a local festival. The pastors were given the runaround by several city offices and told there was no way to actually contest the tickets. Less than a month later, while the brothers peaceably preached outside the same recurring event, Lincolnton police arrested Pastor Jeffrey based on “violating” the illegitimate ordinances, which read in part:
“Any person or group of persons willfully making any loud, raucous, or disturbing sound that—because of its volume, duration, and character—annoy, disturb, frighten, injure, or endanger the comfort, health, peace, or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensibilities in the neighborhood or Central Business District is prohibited.”
The Founding Fathers understood the crucial importance of protecting the rights to free speech and religion. America’s rich tradition of open-air preaching has roots far older than our founding as a nation, Western culture itself, and even the New Testament. God’s people have been proclaiming His word since the dawn of history. The First Amendment completely overrides the above ordinance:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The NCLL moved to dismiss the charges against Jeffrey because his constitutional rights were violated, and in September his criminal trial was dismissed. In an attempt to preserve their ability to continue harassing the preachers, in October the city council slightly amended the ordinances to remove the word “character.” We find that unacceptable and need your help!
The National Center for Life and Liberty has filed a federal complaint against the City of Lincolnton and specific officials challenging the “facial” constitutionality of the ordinances and their unconstitutional use against Pastors Jeffrey and Jeremy Shook. Please pray, and as the Lord leads you, financially support our efforts to bring forth justice. Together, we can help prevent others from so haughtily abusing their government power to tyrannize local Christians.
Maximum Ministry. Minimum Liability.
- Praise: In response to our legal team, a North Carolina school administrator acknowledged she was wrong in restricting believing teachers from participating in a prayer vigil for a sick student. Our team, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), informed the administrator of the public school teachers’ and students’ constitutionally protected rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion.
We’re thankful for this change of heart and hope the NCLL’s efforts will encourage more believing administrators, teachers, parents, and students to live out their faith as open testimonies to an unbelieving world.
- Pray: Our legal team is assisting with the formation of a number of Christian schools and child care ministries.
The NCLL helps new and existing ministries navigate and comply with government regulations, while ensuring their ability to produce Bible-literate students remains uncompromised.
- Pray: Our legal team provided a letter for an after-school, Bible-club program seeking equal access to public school space. The letter explains that it’s illegal to discriminate against an extracurricular program merely because it’s religious.
The NCLL enables churches and ministries to serve where they feel called and stands by organizations that meet resistance to exercising their First Amendment rights.
- Pray: Philadelphia and other jurisdictions are attacking property-tax exemptions in a flawed attempt to fix budget shortfalls. We hope to keep churches and Christian nonprofits from being put on the tax rolls.
The NCLL’s legal team is assisting our supporting churches and incorporated ministries as they respond to tax authorities and navigate red tape to restore these exemptions.
- Pray: A Christian school in the mid-Atlantic has several students enrolled this year who have serious medical needs.
The NCLL is assisting this school with implementing policies that will help educate staff and teachers in such a way as to provide the safest possible environment for these students.
The NCLL is grateful for God’s grace in the successes He has given this year in challenging state and local governments (and government agencies) that have attempted to silence the voices of Christians and limit your religious liberties.
Thank you again for your prayerful partnership in defending life and liberty!