A Louisiana woman who was ordered by Park Rangers to stop giving away free Bible at her farmer’s market stand, will now be permitted to after some timely legal assistance led to the Park Services Department reversing its decision.
According to reports:
“I was really just elated,” the woman, Shirley Elliott, told The Christian Post. “I was just happy that I could do what I felt like I needed to do, and what the Lord wants me to do.”
Elliott says she always kept Bibles in her car to give to others, but found the Thibodaux Farmer’s Market near Jean Lafitte National Historic Park to be an ideal place to offer them to shoppers. She has been selling produce and homemade jellies at the market since 2011, according to Liberty Counsel, and in 2012 she set out the books along with a sign indicating they were free.
But in December she was told by a park ranger that she could no longer offer the Bibles at her stand because “they were on federal property,” and she was instructed that she could hand them out in a separate area designated for literature distribution. (source).
Rather than give up her desire to share the Gospel at her stand, Elliot contacted the Liberty Counsel a legal advocacy group which represents Christian victims of religious discrimination. Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast Jr. wrote a letter to Carol Clark, superintendent of the park. In the letter he advised of why the park’s decision amounted to viewpoint discrimination. According to the park’s own policies, non-profit distribution of literature that pertains to education, youth and nutrition is permitted. And thus preventing a licensed vendor from giving away free Bibles to those who choose to take them would be discrimination solely on the basis of its religious nature.
Thankfully the letter led to a swift resolution of the matter:
Clark responded with a letter to Liberty Counsel in which she called the situation a “misunderstanding.” “The NPS (National Park Service) respects the right of vendors to make free religious materials available,” wrote Clark. “Please assure Ms. Elliott that she is welcome to offer free Bibles at her produce and homemade jellies table.” (source).
The efforts to silence the voice of Christianity is becoming so vociferous that even a woman giving away free Bibles at a food stand is subject to persecution. Jesus Christ prophesied that this persecution would take place and even His own disciples faced it during their ministry:
Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. – Acts 5:25-32.
Pray for Christians to continue to exercise their right of free speech to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unbelieving world. As it grows more hostile to the Bible’s message (while accommodating and embracing other faiths), it is even more urgent to share the message of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.