When our Founding Fathers wrote the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, they fully intended for them to stand as long as our nation stood. But as we see our nation crumbling around us, the Constitution and Bill of Rights are also crumbling to the ground.
In the latest instance, the historic city of Williamsburg, Virginia is seriously considering stripping Americans of their First Amendment right to the freedom of speech.
It seems that some merchants in town complained about Christian’s trying to witness, preach and hand out materials on the public sidewalks outside their businesses. Rather than inform the business owners that the Christians’ right to speak in public is guaranteed by the First Amendment, they are taking the side of the complainers and are ready to enact a city ordinance that will establish designated areas for free speech and restrict free speech in other areas. Furthermore, there would be an additional condition placed on the free speech zones stating that any speaking heard more than 50 feet away would be a violation.
The restricted areas would include Market Square and all historical areas within the city. If you’ve ever been to Williamsburg, the entire town does its best to draw tourists to all of the many historical sites within the city. Technically, they could declare the entire city to be an historical site and thus ban all free speech within city limits.
Michael Marcavage, founder and director of Repent America, believes the ordinance, if passed, would be unconstitutional and points out that car horns and ringing cell phones are heard further than the 50 foot restriction. He further stated,
“This is just another example as to how the local governing officials are trying to silence unpopular and controversial speech.”
“If this is to pass, and if they are to establish free-speech zones, there is no question that it must be defied. We cannot stand idly by and allow them to establish free-speech zones and establish these outrageous restraints on our constitutional rights without some type of response.”
I’ve heard so many people condemn street preachers, saying that they need to confine their preaching to the hallowed halls of church building. But when I read the Gospel accounts of Jesus, He is recorded teaching in the temple only once, but the vast majority of His ministry was preaching in the streets, hills and shores. Whenever we read about Christ being indoors, He was teaching, not preaching. But whenever we read about Him preaching, it was always outdoors, not in some man-made building. For the most part the same was true for all of the apostles including Peter and Paul. They preached in the open where crowds of people could hear them.
In colonial America, street preaching and tent revivals were common place. A number of ministers would travel a circuit, stopping to preach in every little town along the way. Sometimes they would be invited to speak in a local church and other times they would start preaching in public area where many could hear.
During the same time period, many European countries and cities had banned all forms of street preaching, especially if it was not the official state religion. This is one of the reasons so many Christians fled to America, to escape that kind of persecution and our Founding Fathers fully understood it and vowed to prevent the same thing from happening here.
Sadly, we are becoming more and more like Europe of old where the only religion that was tolerated was the state religion and even then it was confined to church buildings. Williamsburg, Virginia is a prime example of this and how Christian Americans are having their constitutional and God given rights illegally taken away from them.
Fortunately, not all Christians are allowing the government to just roll right over them. Some, like Michael Marcavage have promised to continue to preach on street corners, in public and face being arrested for doing so. I just wish there were more Americans who had the backbone and courage to stand up and fight for our rights.