Each of the last four years (actually it seems like more, but that's what the paper says) Michael Marcavage and his friends come to Salem to hold big signs, and preach through bullhorns on and just before Halloween. In the Salem News today there is story about Michael being found guilty.
Our church has a little history with Michael. He had some things to say about us in a recent article in Salem's other paper The Salem Gazette.
Here is Repent America's video taken during the arrest on Halloween:
Now, I have some distinct feelings about this issue, and will simply say a few things related the subject, which might help shed some light on the subject from a local pastor's point of view.
1. Repent America is not supported by any of the local churches in their activities here in Salem. I am not even aware of a local church which appreciates their activities (I suppose there may be one, but I am not aware of any.)
2. Over the last number of years I have known street performers, and people barking for events who have been asked to stop using amplification, and even stop working prior to the 10pm curfew set against such noise. Noise ordinances, public complaints, and crowd unruliness during Halloween night have all been reasons for the police request to stop. Preachers have NOT been the only individuals requested to stop.
3. Every year our church is the single largest Christian presence on the street during the month long Halloween season. We obey every request of the police, and if something unique pops up, we resolve the situation with the help of city officials before we resume our activities. Despite working with the police in this manner, we find that people stand in line for up to an hour to experience our events, and despite the fact that we do not emphasize making a decision to receive Jesus, we see between 30 and 40 people make that decision each year, because they ask how to get closer to God. (This is not information I have shared at any time before, because we are sensitive to the fact that Evangelical Christianity looks like it is FORCING conversion upon people, and we never want to be guilty of that heinous crime against nature - even though we are evangelical.)
4. Our people have been asked by the Pagan community to be protected from these same street preachers, and we went out to bring peace on the streets.
So, what do you think? Does taking away a bullhorn amount to restricting free speech?