A Houston, Texas, court system managed by an “out” lesbian judge has dismissed municipal tickets that had been written against two pastors who were preaching against sin, including homosexuality, on a prominent street corner.
Order dismissing case
The men were ticketed for having signs thicker than one-quarter inch (they say they were 3/16ths and that they’d been approved beforehand) and for having a sign not made out of wood (their shofar is a ram’s horn style).
Officers responded after someone apparently complained about the messengers and their message, but a video shows that the first officer on the scene told them they weren’t doing anything wrong.
It was a few minutes later, however, when officers approached the preachers, apparently grabbed a video camera, wrestled them to the ground and put them in handcuffs.
That’s even though Stokes and Allan have been preaching at that location for several years.
The video recording shows that the officers discussed the situation with each other, saying, “They can be out there all they want,” and “There was no problem, but we have to do a report on this guy.”
Allen told WND today after the court hearing that both cases were dismissed for lack of evidence. The ruling came from Judge Adam Silverman of the Houston Municipal Court, which is run by Barbara E. Hartle, who, according to the Dallas Voice, is listed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund as “one of only a few out members of the Texas judiciary.”
She was appointed to the position by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, identified by the Los Angeles Times as “the first lesbian to head a major American city.”
Allen told WND that he and Stokes were called up to the bench and told almost immediately that their cases were dismissed. They awaited the necessary paperwork and then left.
“I walked down the aisle and out the double doors holding my finger pointed to the sky,” he said. “We’re going back to preaching again very soon.”
Allen said the decision was not a precedent on the city’s ordinances regarding sign materials, and the result will not discourage him from returning to preach and blow his shofar.
He said the warnings about sin and judgment come out of love and obedience, and nothing else.
Allen told WND he blows the shofar and others preach to passersby because of the Old Testament warning that those who know the truth of God’s will and don’t deliver it to others will bear the responsibility of that failure.
That the message was direct is obvious from a photo of the situation that developed.
Street preachers with shofar, sign that prompted tickets
Their sign warns those who are “drunks, homosexuals, abortionist, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, witches, idolators” that “Hell awaits you.”
Allen said the concern was the fact the officers handcuffed and ticketed the pastors and confiscated for a time their signs and shofar, sending a chilling message about free speech regarding religion and homosexuality.
The video revealed that there was a reference by one of the officers to “one way to get rid of them,” coupled with a muffled statement that appears to say, “Seize the signs.”
The ministers reported on a YouTube video description that that “police officer admits to trying to take the signs away in order to get us to leave the corner.”
To Allen, that sounds like a First Amendment speech infringement.
“We have been preaching on this corner with these same signs for two years,” he says in the YouTube introduction.
“Preaching is all we were doing,” he said. “Against all sins.”