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Speech Only Free in Designated Zones

By Hanna Aronovich in News on Jul 19, 2006 7:52PM

As if spending the afternoon at Navy Pier weren’t punishment enough, visitors were also subject to religious propaganda. According to CBS, last Saturday, Philadelphia-based evangelical Christian organization Repent America was handing out promotional literature at Navy Pier. A police officer told the group to stop or else face arrest. When the group returned on Sunday, they were told to demonstrate in designated “free speech zones.” navypier.jpg

Five members of Repent America have filed a suit in federal court stating, "confining plaintiffs to free speech zones would prevent their ministry objectives because they would be unable to effectively engage in dialogue with the public." The suit also seeks the plaintiffs’ rights to “proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square.”

This is not the first time this summer the free speech zone card was played; it also happened at the Taste.

Although Chicagoist thinks getting an earload about Jesus on a Saturday afternoon might be annoying, all groups have the right to free speech. And, these free speech zones aren’t exactly about freedom.

But, we do have to question these Repent America members’ decision to spread their message at Navy Pier. Seems like when faced with the choice between riding a ferris wheel and reading about Jesus, the ferris wheel would win out.

Perhaps the members of Repent America should have devoted their energies to giving visitors weekend alternatives to Navy Pier. Forget IMAX. Spread the word about the Music Box. Skip Bubba Gump and stop by Café Bionda instead. Maybe they could have passed out a different kind of pamphlet. Police might have still harassed the protesters, but Navy Pier visitors would probably have benefited a lot more.

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