U.S. Christians Acquitted for Distributing Literature

On September 24, four members of the Christian apologetics ministry Acts 17, “were acquitted of breach of peace,” for distributing the Gospel of John in Arabic and English outside the Dearborn Arabic International Festival back in June 2010, according to a report filed by the Detroit Free Press (www.freep.com, 9/25/10). The four had been  “charged in July with disorderly conduct after police said they received a complaint from a Christian volunteer working at the festival who said he was harassed by the group.” Due to video taped evidence shot by a witness to the incident and provided by Acts 17, the four were acquitted. This video is available online, (www.answeringmuslims.com), and has received almost two million hits.

Acts 17 member Negeen Mayel of California was “found guilty of failure to obey a police officer’s order.” Attorney John Hinderaker has written, “That policeman’s order violated the First Amendment, so that conviction should be subject to reversal. It is good that a Michigan jury didn’t buy this plainly unconstitutional prosecution, but the story, taken as a whole, is sobering. These evangelists incurred expenses that must have been well into five figures, at a bare minimum, and on top of that had a legitimate fear of criminal conviction—all for engaging in activity that falls within the heart of the First Amendment’s protection” (www.powerlineblog.com, 9/27/20). American Christians should ponder the very real possibility that this is something we may see happen with increasing frequency and intensity in the not too distant future. While some may consider this a victory, at best, it is only a temporary one.

    As to motivation behind ministries like Acts 17, Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly believes, “It’s really about a hatred of Muslims,” and “That is what the whole heart of this is… Their idea is that there is no place for Muslims in America. They fail to understand the Constitution” (www.freep.com, 9/25/10). Granted, some ministries might be motivated by “hatred” of others. However, hatred of others is not what motivates God’s servants who determine to be true to His Word and obedient to Him as they love Him and show concern for lost souls. God’s love for sinners necessitated that the Father send His only begotten Son to die as a sacrifice for sin (John 3:16). The Lord said that nothing could better display one’s love for others than sacrificing one’s own life for them (15:13), and that is precisely what He proceeded to do. It was this same love for our Lord and our fellow man that motivated the great apostle Paul to endure and minister as he did in the first century (2 Cor. 5:14). Today, we must demonstrate this same love and remember to pray for those in authority, like Mayor O’Reilly (1 Tim. 2:1-8).