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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Brothers Say Street Preaching Is Mandatory

ALBUQUERQUE CN) - After seven arrests, two brothers asked a federal judge to stop the City of Roswell from arresting them for "boldly preach(ing) the Gospel in public."

Jeremy and Joshua de los Santos sued Roswell and nine of its law enforcement officers, in Federal Court.

The brothers say they attend Old Paths Baptists Church which is a "Fundamental, Independent, King James Bible Only, Traditional Hymns, Local New Testament Church."

The complaint continues: "Plaintiffs believe that it is their mandatory duty to boldly preach the Gospel in public.

"Plaintiffs believe that they are among a long history of believers, who spread their religious beliefs in public, outdoors, i.e., they are 'street preachers.'

"Plaintiffs believe that 'street preaching' is an ancient practice going back to the prophets of the Old Testament.' Plaintiffs believe that in the New Testament, Jesus Christ proclaimed his message in the 'open air,' speaking plainly to the common man."

The brothers claim that "they must comply with the Biblical directive, found in Mark 16:15 - 'Go Ye Into All The World And Preach The Gospel To Every Creature.'"

And they say that "the form of religious activity they practice occupies the same high estate under the First Amendment as do worship in the churched and preaching from the pulpits."

But the brothers say that one or both of them have been arrested seven times in the past two years, on charges that include public nuisance and obstructing an officer. They claim that all the charges were dismissed.

The brothers say this is harassment, and that the city has failed to train its officers about free speech rights.

They seek damages for constitutional violation and want the city and its officers enjoined from "arresting them, or from otherwise restricting their speech, on traditional public for a due to the content and viewpoint of their speech, or because of their religious beliefs."

They are represented by Edwin Macy with the ACLU New Mexico's Albuquerque office.

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