A restraining order has been issued against a street preacher threatening him with jail if over the next five years he offends someone by citing Bible verses that oppose the ideology of same-sex marriage.
And that action is being challenged by the Rutherford Institute.
It actually is an attempt “by the courts to silence individuals whose religious views may be perceived as intolerant or hateful,” the organization reported.
At hand is a five-year restraining order against a street preacher who has been threatened with arrest “after citing Bible verses on social media to express his moral concerns about a church that endorses same-sex marriage and raising awareness about a public drag queen performance that occurred in front of children.”
“Religious individuals have a clear First Amendment right to publicly cite Bible verses that reflect their concerns about moral issues of the day without being accused of stalking, harassing or terrorizing those who are offended by the sentiments,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of “Battlefield America: The War on the American People.”
“This case is a foreshadowing of the government’s efforts to insulate the populace from all things that might cause offense by criminalizing nonviolent First Amendment activities (speech, thought and actions) perceived as politically incorrect.”
The group is asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to overturn the five-year restraining order against Rich Penkoski.
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It’s “excessive and a clear violation of the pastor’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion,” Rutherford’s report explained.
Institute lawyers also noted that in the absence of any actual threats by Penkoski or proof that he sought to incite violence through the use of Bible verses, the court’s rationale appears to be based solely on claims that “LGBTQ leaders felt terrorized, harassed and fearful about how others might react to the Bible verses cited in the street preacher’s social media posts.”
It developed starting in 2022 when Penkoski used social media to express his concerns about a church that endorses same-sex marriage, as well as a public drag queen performance for children.
“He shared the church’s public photo of a same-sex wedding involving leaders of an LGBTQ organization and quoted Bible verses describing God’s judgment of sin. In a second post, Penkoski criticized the church’s publicly shared photos of children celebrating Pride Month. In a third post, Penkoski weighed in on a regional effort to ban adult-oriented entertainment in public spaces,” Rutherford reported.
He also posted evidence of what LGBTQ leaders claimed to the city council, as well as photos “of a drag queen behaving in a sexually suggestive manner near children at the Pride event.”
Without any evidence except for LGBTQ claims they felt “terrorized” by the information online, a trial court imposed the protective order.
Rutherford lawyers said because of the extraordinary order, Penkoski could be arrested and given a year in jail for behavior that could include citing similar Bible verses.
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