A Wichita, Kan., pastor who was defending himself on a charge of loitering for passing out Gospel tracts from a public sidewalk at an Islamic mosque is suggesting Shariah is creeping into America through preferential treatment provided by law enforcement and the courts.
Pastor Mark Holick of Spirit One Christian Center, who previously challenged Internal Revenue Service mandates that he not comment on politicians’ moral values in the midwestern state, was in court for a hearing on the accusation of loitering.
He said he was challenging the government’s version of events and asking whether it is procedure for captains in the Wichita police department to respond to calls about someone allegedly loitering.
“I asked them how often a captain answers a call for loitering. He said, ‘Well, I did it when I was an officer,’ but I said, ‘How many times have you done it as a captain?’” Holick observed.
“I mean, what are the odds that a captain would respond to a call about people passing out the Gospel at a mosque? He was there in five minutes of the call coming in,” Holick continued.
Holick told WND the episode is evidence Wichita is moving to give wider latitude to Muslims operating mosques in the city.
He also believes that the events of the confrontation in August show the city of Wichita is willing to be at the disposal of the Islamic community.
Officials at the Islamic Society of Wichita have not responded to a WND request for comment.
Listen to the interview:
The case developed when Holick set up a Gospel distribution project on the public sidewalk at the mosque on Aug. 27.
Holick told WND his group stayed on the public sidewalk and at no time attempted to block the drive or prevent any of the mosque’s attendees from leaving the parking area.
He believes mosque officials themselves called police to have the Christians removed.
“The captain arrived and told me that I couldn’t stand in the driveway and he told me that I had to keep moving. I kept moving and when I turned around, that’s when the captain arrested me,” Holick explained.
Holick says that he tried to defend himself during the court appearance on the accusation of loitering.
“Probably 75 percent of the questions I would ask were objected to and probably 90 percent of those were sustained. So I was simply not able to ask detailed questions,” Holick asserted.
He also believes the 30 church members in attendance in the court had an impact.
“Everybody who’s ever been to court knows that when you’re defending yourself, it automatically makes the court upset,” Holick stated.
“Then we had a number of our members there and it’s just my opinion that he’s not used to that. At one point the judge began to talk about how people were attempting to intimidate him,” Holick continued.
“All they were doing is sitting in the court room and I was asking questions. So I think it was just the Christians’ presence that made it difficult for him,” Holick added.
The Wichita Police Department has not responded to inquiries on the case.
Holick told WND the result of the recent hearing in Kansas’ Sedgwick County District Court was that he was cited for contempt when he angrily responded to court restrictions on his attempts to introduce his arguments.
“What we think happens next is that this case has been set aside and is going to have to be retried, I’m guessing. The next thing is that I have a hearing for a contempt of court charge,” Holick stated.
But he said the claims of contempt and loitering aren’t the real issue.
“I would say it’s more of an excessive attempt by the Wichita Police Department to give Islam ‘Most Favored Religion Status’ in the United States,” he said.
It eventually was dismissed in an order from U.S. District Judge Thomas Martin, whose ruling described the situation:
“Plaintiff was preparing to share his religious beliefs with
others on the public sidewalk near the entrance of Heritage Park in Wichita, Kansas, where a
Gay Pride event was about to take place … within 5 minutes of arriving at that location, plaintiff was threatened with
arrest if he did not leave, and then immediately arrested when he refused to leave, handcuffed,
placed in a squad car in front of members from his church, including adults, youth, and children,
processed at the police station by having his mug shot taken, fingers printed, and placed in a cell
The judge noted that all charges against Holick later were dismissed, and the civil rights complaint was filed for the wrongful arrest.
“The defendants do not contest that they violated plaintiff’s constitutional rights,” the judge wrote.
“Christians shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs,” said Joel Oster, a senior legal counsel for the ADF, at the time. “We are pleased city of Wichita officials will now ensure that Pastor Holick is free to exercise his First Amendment rights in public without fear of arrest.”
That case stemmed from Holick’s June 24, 2007, arrest while he was peacefully expressing his faith on a public sidewalk with other members of his church.
The city paid Holick $11,700 in damages “in accord with the city’s ordinary accounting procedures,” plus attorneys fees and litigation costs of $2,500.