Anchorage, Alaska — January 4, 2018. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit against the Municipality of Anchorage, challenging an unconstitutional ban on David Grisham and stepdaughter Tina Watson from peacefully sharing their Christian faith in California Creek Park during the Girdwood Forest Fair.
On July 8, 2017, Grisham and Watson went to California Creek Park to share their faith at the popular Girdwood Forest Fair. They positioned themselves in wide open areas, and began handing out Gospel tracts to people as they walked by. However, they were soon approached by the Fair’s security, who informed them that they could not pass out tracts due to a Fair rule prohibiting religious expression.
Grisham and Watson politely pointed out their constitutional rights to share their faith in a public park, so the security guards summoned a police officer to sort out the conflict which was welcomed by Grisham and Watson. But, when the police officer arrived, he informed them that religious expression in any manner was prohibited in the park during the Forest Fair, and that Grisham and Watson would be arrested if they did not leave the park immediately. While the rest of the public was free to share views on virtually any other topic inside the Forest Fair, Grisham’s and Watson’s evangelistic message was banned.
Wanting to return and share their faith at future Forest Fairs, Grisham sent a letter, through counsel, to Anchorage officials, asking that they no longer ban leafletting at the Forest Fair, but Anchorage flatly refused, assuring that it would continue to enforce the ban. Left with no other option, Grisham and Watson filed a lawsuit to secure their First Amendment rights.
“Anchorage cannot selectively ban religious expression from a public park during a public event,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “The First Amendment doesn’t play favorites.”
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people.
For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.