Posts Tagged 'Piride Parade'

How The Arrest Of Evangelists At Oslo’s Independence Day Parade Was Discriminatory

 

I have seen a lot of discrimination up close and personal.  As an attorney, I have represented evangelists for years after they have been threatened with arrest for sharing their faith in public places.  This is amazing considering that there is very little other activity that authorities care about in public places.  You can sale almost anything.  You can play music that borders on obscene, but do not read from a Bible or tell people how to become Christians.

 In Europe this is becoming even truer—Europeans are afraid to confront Muslims and the homosexual community in public places, but it is slowly becoming open season on Christians.

 In Oslo, Norway the discrimination currently seems to be limited only to large gatherings like parades.  Normal days come and go with no arrests.  Let there be a big event, like a Pride Parade or a parade celebrating independence and the rules are suspended.  The rules are not suspended because of any great theory.

 Before the Pride Parade in 2007, Petar Keseljevic and I spoke on the telephone regarding what his rights were in public places in Oslo.  I informed him that he had a right to be in public areas as long as he did not block the ability of people move along the sidewalks.  He should be careful not to block any vehicles.  Finally, he should not speak directly to individuals; rather he should speak to the group as a whole about the principles of eternal life he was sharing.

 For several days before the parade Petar asked local politicians and local police departments if he could get a permit that would allow him to be on the sidewalks during the parade.  He was told repeatedly that no permit was necessary for public speaking in public places. 

 After all, the logic went, Norway is a democratic country.  We permit free speech and religion.

 Yet, when the day in question arrived, Petar was arrested.

 The next year there was no point in asking whether he needed a permit.  So, on Norwegian Independence Day 2008 Petar and Larry Keffer showed up and began to share their faith.

 First they were merely asked to move somewhere away from the Palace of the King and Queen.  They complied, but because this was a day with a large public gathering they were arrested.

 Never mind the fact that one a couple of occasions Petar and Larry were accosted by “standers by.”  Both of these incidents occurred while the police were present, watching the evangelists work.  There were only two arrests—the evangelists.

 The discrimination in question took place when the police decided to target only Christian speech.  We are quickly moving toward a world where anything offensive is not permitted.  At the same time, we are moving toward a world where Christian speech is, by definition, offensive.

 This is a discrimination we cannot live with.  This would mean that only secularism or other, less insistent religions are acceptable.

 The European Convention on Human Rights and Norwegian law guarantee free speech and religious freedom to all people.  Yet, when the message is New Testament Evangelical Christianity those rights are suddenly not guaranteed.

 Not only were Petar and Larry arrested, but the Oslo Criminal Court ruled that they were rightly arrested.  The appeals court agreed, as did the Supreme Court.  Now, their fate is in the hands of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

 This level of discrimination is just beginning for Christians in America and in Europe.  It is deep rooted and the roots are growing deeper as both Continents grow more and more secularized.

 If we are uncomfortable with this level of discrimination we are going to be even less happy with the levels to come.  Eventually, we will be going from discrimination to persecution. 

 Then we really are in trouble!

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis
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