Were arrested Michigan Christians violating the Constitution?

In Dearborn Michigan, a group of Christians called Acts 17 Apologetics set up a booth near a Muslim festival making copies of the gospel of John available and speaking to any people who might come by. They were surrounded by angry Muslims and dragged off to jail by the police for these actions.

Their crime? Disorderly conduct, the police said, although video footage fails to show anything disorderly being done by the Christians.

They were there only because a judge had overturned a previous court ruling, which said they could not set up their booth near the Muslim festival. The year before, former Muslim George Saieg was told by the police, that he'd be arrested if he tried to distribute any materials to Muslims, who comprise about a third of the city's population.

The Christian missionaries got their day in court, and the jury swiftly ruled that this effort to hand out goods was protected by the first amendment, which plainly states the government shall not impinge upon freedom of religion or speech.

Here's where it gets interesting. According to Naomi R. Patton and Niraj Warikoo at the Detroit Free Press, the mayor of Dearborn considered this decision unfortunate, stating:

“It's really about a hatred of Muslims,” O'Reilly said. “That is what the whole heart of this is. … Their idea is that there is no place for Muslims in America. They fail to understand the Constitution.”

“They engaged in a misrepresentation of what Dearborn really is,” O'Reilly said of the four missionaries arrested.

In a five-page letter, O'Reilly wrote “The real violation of First Amendment rights occurs with Acts 17 Apologetics trying to imply they were the victim when the real violation is their attack on the City of Dearborn for having tolerance for all religions including believers in the Koran.”

So men standing around peacefully handing out tracts and talking to people who engage with them is … violating the constitution, according to the mayor of Dearborn? He prides his city in having diversity and tolerance, yet when these men came to set up a booth that isn't allowed?  Handing out the gospel of John is an attack on the city?

The Detroit Free Press article suggests these men were disruptive and problematic, citing complaints by unnamed groups and people, but without examples. There are no actual listed incidents of misconduct by the Acts 17 Apologetics team anywhere I can find.

When a group is truly disruptive such as the Westboro Baptist Church and its anti-gay anti-war protests, there are plenty of examples out there to be found.

In today's video age, you'd expect there to be something out there showing the problems they supposedly caused. The group has videos of themselves not being problematic but no one with all those cameras out there got any footage of these guys causing trouble?  When even the ACLU gets involved in defending the Acts 17 Apologetics guys, you know there's a problem with the Dearborn city government.

At some point, America ceased being what most people would call a “Christian nation,” that is, a nation which has a worldview and culture primarily informed and shaped by Judeo-Christian ideals. Dearborn Michigan seems to be moving the newer secular norm and toward becoming a Muslim community with behavior of this sort.

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