"The Word on the Street"
October 9, 2012
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Acts 17:16-17
New Orleans is known as "The Big Easy."
Now it may be true that a musician might find it easy to find an appreciative audience in that city, but easy does not describe the work of an evangelist who wishes to make a nighttime witness on infamous Bourbon Street.
That's because the mayor of New Orleans has approved a ban on religious witnessing on Bourbon Street between sunset and sunrise.
That's right, as of today, you can gather a crowd to sell and speak about almost everything else, but you can't sermonize about Jesus. While no reason for the ban has been given, I can only assume that Satan and sin found the Savior was getting in the way of their Bourbon Street monopoly.
Apparently, the ban is working.
After finding out several people sharing a religious message have been arrested or threatened with arrest, one minister, who has spent 30 years sharing the Savior on Bourbon Street, has decided he will no longer do so. He is not ready to risk a fine or the possibility of spending six months in jail for telling people of the Savior's great love. Understand, this is a pastor who never asked for donations or accosted reluctant observers.
Now I fully realize that a one-street, 12-hour-ban on evangelizing is, in the scheme of things, a small thing. On the other hand, anytime a semi-successful assault is made on both freedom of religion and freedom of speech, it is a dangerous thing that sets a frightening precedent.
It is frightening because such a ban is wrong, and this kind of ban can spread.
Joseph LaRue, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, says, "Religious speech is just as important, and just as protected by the First Amendment, as speech about any other subject at any time of day. New Orleans cannot make criminals of people simply because they want to talk about their faith."
This is why today's prayer asks that the Lord will enable the court system to reverse the illegal law, so the Savior's life, death and resurrection might be shared without let or hindrance.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we do not ask that Christianity be given preferential treatment, but we don't believe we should be held back more than those who recruit for other faiths. Grant that our faith may enjoy the freedoms which are ours in Jesus Christ. In His Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries