Charges have been dropped against a quintet of street preachers in Washington state.
The five street preachers were cited by police for disturbing public peace outside of Washougal High School in November 2017. Their attorney, Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute, says the men were on public property sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"They weren't violent, they weren't threatening, they weren't using foul language, they were not making loud noises," Dacus tells OneNewsNow. "They were just doing what street preachers do: giving the good news of Jesus Christ.”
The attorney continues: “One police officer had gone out there and acknowledged that they had a right to be there, and yet … other law enforcement came and said that their speech wasn't wanted, that the school didn't welcome their ‘protesting,’ which wasn't what they were doing."
All five street preachers received criminal citations for breaking the city noise ordinance. The charges were dropped last week after PJI argued the actions were unconstitutional.
"One of the criminally charged preachers spent many years in the former Soviet Union, which of course was very oppressive to faith," adds Dacus. "All he did was he held a sign with a Bible verse, handed out gospel tracts to students and told them Jesus loves you - and this aggressive action by the school and by the police reminded him of similar harassment in Russia.
“He didn't frankly think that he would have to be dealing with this kind of overt, government oppression and persecution simply for preaching the gospel on a public sidewalk here in the United States."
In the last six months, PJI has represented public evangelists against criminal charges in California, Nevada, Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Michigan. The necessity of going to court to defend Christians against such charges concerns Dacus.
"We're seeing a real uptick, a real increase in criminal prosecutions of outdoor ministers here in the United States something like I don't think we've ever seen before in our nation's history,” he laments. “And yet we have people in local governments who have a very hostile attitude towards the gospel and towards people proclaiming the gospel in traditional public forums like public sidewalks."
Members of the administration at Washougal High School did not respond to OneNewsNow's email seeking comment.