Brian Johnson, a Christian who has passed out Bibles at a Minnesota gay pride parade for years, is launching a lawsuit after city officials restricted his ability to disseminate the books at this year's event. Johnson, who is from Hayward, Wis., apparently started handing Bibles out at the Twin Cities Pride Festival back in 1995.
Relations between the Christian and the parade's organizers weren't always chilly. By 1998, Johnson had an official booth that the group approved. But more recently, organizers of the event, which draws up to 300,000 people each year, haven't been so friendly. First, they prevented him from securing a booth. Then, in 2009 -- the first year he was denied a booth -- organizers had Johnson arrested for trespassing; the charges were later dropped.
In 2010, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which oversees the 42-acre public park that the event is held in, granted Johnson permission to hand out Bibles. Organizers, standing so firmly opposed to this action, went to court to seek an injunction. This was inevitably denied by District Judge John Tunheim, however, the judge did make a suggestion that "free speech zones" be created for people, like Johnson, to distribute their literature.
Below, see a report about the 2010 ruling:
Johnson, who opposes these "free speech zones," is fighting back with a lawsuit against the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. FOX News has more about the legal debacle that has resulted from these less-than-favorable interactions:
Johnson, a taxidermist by trade and an evangelical by calling, sat out last year's event for fear of arrest, according to his attorney. But the legal wrangling has continued behind the scenes, and this year parade organizers, at the suggestion of a federal judge, designated "free-speech zones" on the Pride Festival grounds, where people like Johnson could distribute literature the organizers wouldn't otherwise approve.
Johnson and his attorney reject the policy, which is backed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Johnson believes he not only has God on his side, but the Constitution, too.
On Friday, Johnson went to federal court where he hopes he will be able to secure unrestricted access to this year's event, which is slated to take place June 23-24. Organizers maintain that he is welcome to attend the event, but that -- unless a court intervenes -- he will not be able to hand out Bibles outside of the designated zones.
"He has said his goal is to get everyone to know Jesus [and] he is allowed to do that," Dot Belstler, executive director of Twin Cities Pride, said. "[But] it's really kind of a nuisance."
(H/T: FOX News)