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Two Christian pastors are promising that they will dispute a ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed a city’s decision to ban the free distribution of bologna sandwiches to the homeless.
The pastors were cited by police while they were handing out sandwiches and bottles of water to the homeless in 2018.
The city banned that activity, and while the city opted not to prosecute them, they sued over an alleged violation to their rights.
The appeals court said the city could do what it did.
The ruling said the appellants, while handing out food, “sometimes also shared religious literature with the recipients of the food.”
St. Louis Police Officer Stephen Ogunjobi saw the pastors, Raymond Redlich and Christopher Ohnimus, handing out the food and cited them for distributing food without a city permit.
The city’s object in its ban was to prevent the distribution of “sandwiches containing MEAT, POULTRY, EGGS, or FISH” by temporary food establishments.
The pastors then sought a court ruling that the ban violated their Free Exercise and Free Speech rights.
The city shortly later amended its code to allow a “Charitable Feeding Temporary Food Permit” at a reduced cost and more provisions, such as the 2017 Edition of the National Food Code.
The court said, “Appellants do not suggest that the city lacks the constitutional power to enact the ordinance, nor do they contend that the city’s interest in preventing the spread of foodborne illness is related to suppression of free expression. Instead, appellants argue that the ordinance does not further an important or substantial government interest and that the Ordinance is not sufficiently tailored to the asserted interest. We disagree.”
According to Courthouse News, the pastors are from New Life Christian Evangelical Center.
Earlier in the process, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nanette A. Baker granted the city’s motion to dismiss.
David Roland, litigation director for the Freedom Center of Missouri, which represented Redlich and Ohnimus, told Courthouse News on Wednesday the duo will seek a rehearing before the panel and, if necessary, before the full Eighth Circuit.
He explained he believes the court “made a couple of significant errors.”
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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.