Over the years, the courts have ruled on whether it is constitutional to pray in school. But until now, they have probably never had a case about reading the Bible at the Department of Motor Vehicles. A judge in California has ruled that this is OK.
Or at least, he ruled that prosecutors had not proven there was any crime committed by two freelance preachers who staged a Bible reading at a local DMV office.
On Feb. 2, 2011, two men were arrested in Hemet, Calif., and charged with staging an unlawful demonstration. The two, Brett Coronado, 44, and Mark Mackey, 60, showed up at DMV as a line was forming at the door and waited for it to open so drivers could register their cars or take their driving tests and get driver’s licenses.
Coronado and Mackey were there to preach the gospel to the assembled DMV patrons, whether their audience wanted to hear it or not. They stood about 40 feet from the DMV entrance and read from the Bible aloud. It did not take long to attract the attention of DMV security officers who asked them to move away. The men refused, citing their First Amendment rights to free speech.
Shortly thereafter, California Highway Patrol Officer Darrin Meyer showed up an arrested the pair. Meyer told them that they were not permitted to preach to “a captive audience.”
But after a five-day trial yesterday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer found that the prosecution had failed to make its case against the two self-styled preachers, who were facing a possible 90-day jail sentence or a $400 fine.
The two men were represented in court by a Christian legal group, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which is still pursuing a civil lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol for the actions of Meyer and another officer in the case.
SOURCES: Los Angeles Times, Christian News Network