June 15, 2008
Editor’s note: The following is inscribed on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof,” except those inhabitants outside of a “free speech zone,” of course.PHILADELPHIA - On Friday, June 13, 2008 in the case of United States of America vs. Michael A. Marcavage, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arnold C. Rapoport found Repent America (RA) director Michael Marcavage "guilty" for preaching to those waiting in line to see the Liberty Bell. Marcavage had been arrested by the National Park Service in October of last year for continuing to preach on public property after refusing to move to a so-called “free speech zone,” and then charged under the Code of Federal Regulations.
During Repent America’s annual pro-life evangelism tour on October 6, 2007, RA was reaching out to those visiting the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall with the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as park rangers continuously harassed the ministry team for refusing to relocate to a “free speech zone”. While preaching against America’s toleration of abortion and on repentance from sin to those waiting in line at the Liberty Bell Center at Independence National Historical Park, Marcavage was arrested on the public sidewalk just outside the building that houses the bell.
“In a land that tolerates the killing of unborn children, it is not surprising that we find ourselves in a continual battle for our freedoms. When the church is silent as the most helpless among us have their beating hearts stopped at the hands of abortionists, then we do not deserve liberty,” stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. “Although we do not deserve the blessings of liberty that God has bestowed upon our nation, we must be good stewards by working to preserve and utilize them to help bring an end to the abortion holocaust,” Marcavage continued. “In Philadelphia – the birthplace of American freedom – we will, as the Scripture-inscribed Liberty Bell declares, ‘Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof’ (Leviticus 25:10) regardless of the efforts to silence us,” Marcavage concluded.
Under the direction of Ian Crane, chief ranger of Independence National Historical Park, supervising ranger Alan Saperstein repeatedly approached Marcavage to demand that he and the ministry team move to a “free speech zone” on the other side of the Liberty Bell Center, which was nowhere near those entering or exiting. Adding insult to absurdity, Saperstein stated that in the future that RA would need to obtain a written permit to even speak in the “free speech zone,” but given a “verbal permit” to go there for the day, which Marcavage refused, citing that constitutional protections were sufficient. When it became apparent that Marcavage was not going to yield to the unconstitutional demands, Saperstein arrested Marcavage and ordered the other members of the ministry team off the public sidewalks. Ironically, Marcavage was then physically escorted into the Liberty Bell Center for questioning and charged with violating the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, § 1.6 Permits (g)(2), which states that he violated the terms and conditions of a "verbal permit" – a permit that Marcavage never accepted, nor is such a permit even listed under the regulations. Subsequently, Marcavage was issued a citation nearly six months later by certified mail concerning the same matter for violating the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, § 2.32 (g)(1) + (2), which states that he was "interfering with agency functions" by preaching and ministering to people on the public sidewalk.Yesterday, the trial resumed from April 22, 2008 and ended with Judge Rapoport finding Michael Marcavage "guilty" on both charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Goldberg argued that Marcavage’s defense was "propaganda" and that he was a "clear and present danger" and asked the judge to send a message not only to Marcavage, but to anyone who would dare stand on public property and share their beliefs without government permission. Judge Rapoport fined Marcavage $445, including costs, and put him on probation for one year in which he is not permitted to enter the park, or be on the public sidewalks surrounding the park for any reason without first notifying park authorities, nor can he return to engage in free speech activities without first obtaining a permit, and only then in the designated "free speech zone". Directly following the trial, Marcavage was escorted by U.S. Marshals to be booked for his "crimes". The case is in the process of being appealed, and RA will be challenging these unconstitutional restrictions by filing for an injunction in federal court.
Take Action: (1) Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and ask them to be a voice against this injustice and the ban on freedom of religion and speech on the public sidewalks at Independence National Historical Park. You may do so by clicking here. (2) Forward this report to your family and friends so that they can do the same. (3) Click here to make a one-time or monthly donation to support the work of this ministry.