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Mississippi Pastor Wins Lawsuit over Abortion Protest Arrest

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Published on: April 9, 2015

It seems as though the Christian is the one on the outside of society today. If we stand for what we believe and voice our opinion, we are the ones who are called names and vilified. We are “bigots” and “haters.” So, when you can be told to take your signs down and go home or be arrested, things are getting bad. This is exactly what happened to a Mississippi pastor in 2011, but thankfully he was acquitted and now has sued the state.

Christian News reports:

A pastor in Mississippi who was arrested and jailed four years ago while participating in a pro-life outreach on the public thoroughfare has prevailed in his lawsuit against city officials almost two years after being exonerated of criminal charges for his activities.

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It seems to have been one of those situations that spiraled out of hand quickly. In fact, the pastor was not even supposed to have been there.

Pastor Stephen Joiner of Columbus Church of the Nazarene was traveling through the city in March 2011 when he saw members of the group Pro-Life Mississippi holding signs along a busy intersection. He parked his vehicle at a nearby pharmacy and walked over to the group to thank them for being a voice for the unborn.

As Joiner began to converse with members, he learned that they were promoting a proposed personhood amendment in the state, which seeks to declare that life begins at conception. Because he supported the cause, Joiner decided to join the group in holding signs at the location.

However, Joiner was soon approached by Columbus Police Captain Frederick Shelton, who ordered him to leave the area, asserting that the pastor was blocking traffic. Shelton likewise ordered the others to leave, stating that they were also interfering with traffic.

I do not want to judge the Captain’s motives, but it seems a little extreme to arrest people because they are standing with a sign on the sidewalk. It has turned out for the good for Joiner though. He is now ten thousand dollars richer for his trouble.

Christian News further reports:

With the help of the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, Joiner sued Mississippi officials in May 2014 for his arrest, and on Monday, Joiner was awarded over $10,000 in damages in court for the incident. The City of Columbus must also pay all attorneys fees surrounding the litigation, and must amend the two ordinances used against the pastor so as to prevent further misuse.

It would be great if Christians would begin to stand like Rev. Joiner. Once the bullies in our government see that it is going to cost them to push Christians around, maybe it will stop. It seems the way our opposition wages war is by hitting us in the wallet. It is time that we returned the favor. Also, these tactics will not be tried in Mississippi anytime soon.

“The notion that one man can constitute a parade and that small groups of individuals need to seek permission and a permit from the government before they can open their mouths on a public sidewalk is repugnant to the Constitution and undermines the foundation of this nation,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement on Tuesday.

If we begin to fight them on every issue and to cost them every time they seek to silence us, maybe we can begin to turn the tide. Praise God for these people’s courage.


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