Foundation for Moral Law Appeals Street Evangelist's “Disorderly Conduct” Conviction for Peacefully Preaching in Salem, Mass. Last Halloween
October 31, 2008
The Foundation for Moral Law, a religious liberties legal organization led by Judge Roy Moore, filed its appeals brief in the Massachusetts Appeals Court seeking to overturn the disorderly conduct conviction leveled against Michael Marcavage of Repent America for peacefully preaching the gospel with a megaphone in Salem, Mass., one year ago today. (Download the brief here.)
In the brief filed yesterday in Commonwealth v. Marcavage the Foundation argued that under the Salem city code Marcavage had a right to use a megaphone until 10:00 p.m., as other businesses and street performers were being allowed to do. The Salem Police Department's decision to shut him down and arrest him at 8:30 p.m. was completely unwarranted and a violation of Marcavage's constitutional rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and equal protections of the laws.
On March 10, 2008, the trial court found Marcavage guilty of disorderly conduct, a verdict the Foundation argues is completely unsupported by a video showing Marcavage's arrest.
Foundation attorney Ben DuPré explained that at trial the judge justified the guilty verdict by claiming that Marcavage's preaching of the gospel “could” have made the crowd of Halloween partygoers unruly.
“In a city that treats Halloween like Mardi Gras,” said DuPré, “the Salem judge essentially decided that the police could confiscate a Christian evangelist's megaphone simply because the drunken crowds later in the night might react badly to his message.” DuPré noted, however, that Marcavage's preaching never caused a public disturbance that evening. “The self-titled ‘Witch City' may be a hotspot for Halloween celebrants, but it's not a Constitution-free zone. The rights of free speech and free exercise of religion may not be suppressed simply because Salem's tourists may not like the gospel message that Marcavage preaches.”
The Foundation for Moral Law, a national religious-liberties organization, is located in Montgomery, Alabama, and is dedicated to restoring the knowledge of God in law and government through litigation relating to moral issues and religious liberty, as well as education consisting of forums for pastors, judges, and the general public.
For more information about the Foundation for Moral Law, please visit www.morallaw.org.