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Man Arrested for Holding Pro-Christian Sign in Public

March 8th, 2023

A man was arrested in Georgia after publicly holding a pro-Christian sign to raise awareness about homeless veterans.
A man was arrested in Georgia after publicly holding a pro-Christian sign to raise awareness about homeless veterans.

The First Amendment is an important foundation of American democracy. But what happens when people decide to publicly state their adherence to one particular religion? You would think that in a country that supposedly values free speech, this would not be an issue. But in the case of one homeless veteran, simply holding a pro-Christian sign could be enough to land you in jail. 

Georgia Veteran Sues for Religious Discrimination over Pro-Christian Sign

On February 1, 2023, it was reported that a man was suing the city of Alpharetta, Georgia after he was arrested for holding a sign that said “God Bless the Homeless Vets.” According to the lawsuit, the individual was charged with violating the city’s anti-panhandling policy. Not only that, but he was banned from the area, detained, and arrested. 

The plaintiff is now arguing that the question of panhandling is irrelevant – the real issue is his freedom to engage in political and religious expression. His lawyers are also arguing that the First Amendment allows Americans to ask other Americans for help – regardless of local city policies. Taking action against individuals for expressing themselves in this way is a constitutional violation, according to his lawyer. They also point out that a very similar ordinance in Birmingham, Alabama, was struck down by the federal courts.

Religious Expression is Only One Example of Free Speech

Religious expression is just one of many protected forms of speech in the United States. The truth is that virtually anything can be considered free speech, including flying certain flags that are considered racist or controversial. You can also exercise your free speech by wearing t-shirts with political messages. There are only a few exceptions to free speech, including obscenity (such as swearing), fraud, harassment, incitement to commit illegal conduct, true threats, and commercial speech (such as advertising). 

If you’re not threatening anyone and what you’re saying is not encouraging illegal acts, you can say whatever you want for the most part. The above example of the veteran holding a sign that simply stated “God Bless the Homeless Vets” is clearly a form of protected free speech. 

At the same time, the Constitution states that the government cannot make a law respecting the establishment of religion. This means that there should always be a division between church and state in America – although this only affects the government and not private citizens. 

What Should You Do if Your Right to Exercise Your Religious Free Speech Has Been Violated?

Fortunately, many organizations can help you if your right to exercise your religious free speech has been violated. While we cannot provide legal assistance for you, the Universal Life Church Case Law has been documenting the fight for First Amendment rights and religious freedoms for years. We focus on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases in an objective manner that can be easily understood by readers.

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