FAITH UNDER FIRE
Verdict! Christians convict pastor for ‘giving out Bibles’
$300 fine, 1 year probation, ordered to stay 1,000 feet away from scene of his ‘offense’
By Bob Unruh
The pastor of a Wichita, Kan., church who has spoken on public streets against homosexuality, the influence of abortion interests in his state and other biblical issues says he has been convicted on charges related to his decision to hand out Bibles at a Muslim mosque – in a courtroom staffed and filled with Christians.
The counts against Pastor Mark Holick of Spirit One Christian Center, known as the church “without walls,” technically were two counts of loitering and one count of disrupting a business.
He was convicted by a six-member jury in Wichita District Court and today was sentenced to a $300 fine, a year of probation and ordered not to be within 1,000 feet of the Islamic center where last fall he handed out pamphlets containing portions of the Bible.
What is startling, he told the judge and courtroom during a 15-minute statement in court, is that the conviction came about through Christians.
He told the court and judge:
Wichita, you are confused, I am not your enemy, Islam is.
‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’
Islamists believe that it is okay to lie if it is to help in the cause of Allah.
My own government called a foreign Islamist to testify for them against me, a born American, Christian peacefully handing out free Bibles.
How sad, how incredibly sad.
The arresting officer said he is Christian.
The court/judge says it/he is Christian.
The prosecutor says he is Christian.
The city attorney says he is Christian.
Four of the six jurors say they are Christian.
And I have been convicted for handing out free Bibles.
Judgment must and will begin in the house of the Lord.
“But it is okay, for on judgment day when I am asked if there is enough evidence to convict me as a Christian I will off[er] this arrest, this prosecution, this conviction and this sentence,” he said.
WND previously reported on the dispute that brought Holick into court again. At the time of his arrest, he warned that Islamic law, Shariah, is creeping into American through preferential treatment provided by law enforcement and the courts.
Today, he told WND that he was handing out a book containing English and Arabic versions of the biblical books of John and Romans, as well as a DVD containing testimony from former Muslims.
He said he was able to make the accusation against the court and jurors because of information he’s gotten from those who know the arresting officer and the judge and the prosecutor’s statement about attending church. Holick said he has dealt with the city attorney in previous cases, and during jury selection four of the six jurors affirmed that they attend a regular Christian service.
He said his attorney talked with jurors after the conviction and found out they were swayed by the police statements that Holick didn’t move, or didn’t move fast enough, when police instructed him.
Holick had been handing out the Bible portions on a sidewalk adjacent to the Wichita mosque. He also went into the driveway where it crossed the sidewalk to do the same. It apparently was that action that the police cited for their counts of loitering and obstructing a business. Holick noted, however, there was no testimony that he had obstructed anyone.
“The only reason you were the one arrested is because you were the only one who disobeyed the police orders,” the newspaper reported the judge said.
The report also said Journey discussed how the First Amendment assured Holick’s right to express his religious beliefs but also allowed laws that would regulate how he practices his faith.
A WND message requesting comment from the court left after hours was not returned.
Holick told WND he was a little surprised that the judge let him make a 15-minute statement but noted that the judge later stated his disagreement with the pastor’s testimony.
He had said, “This is about an idolatrous government that has rejected the Lord God Jesus. This is about a government that has turned from the Lord God to the many gods of pluralism.
“Listen to the 911 call by the mosque. Not one reference to any traffic problems, no[t] one indication of cars being blocked. No, it is clear that the reason they called was because – we were there peacefully offering free Bibles,” he said. “To which the police, city attorney, and courts were all too willing to act with expediency and malice to silence the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
He continued, “Rest assured, your actions will have a great chilling effect on the Gospel of our Lord, but I suspect you know that and are glad. Rest assured that this conviction is already running through the Wichita Islamic social network like an August Texas grass fire. Because I use the public sidewalk to offer Bibles to those driving out, I stand here before this magistrate today.”
He cited a consent decree reached with the city earlier when he previously was arrested for speaking of Christianity in a “traditional public forum.”
The city paid $11,700 in damages and promised “to permit Mark Holick to engage in his First Amendment rights in the future on the same terms and conditions as all other citizens.”
“Honorable men keep their word,” Holick said.
In that earlier case Holick was arrested by police sharing his religious beliefs on a public sidewalk outside a homosexual festival in the city. He was arrested but, the charges eventually were dropped, and he later brought a civil case.
It was settled, and U.S. District Judge Thomas Martin described the arrest:
Plaintiff was preparing to share his religious beliefs with others on the public sidewalk near the entrance of Heritage Park in Wichita, Kansas, where a Gay Pride event was about to take place … within 5 minutes of arriving at that location, plaintiff was threatened with arrest if he did not leave, and then immediately arrested when he refused to leave, handcuffed, placed in a squad car in front of members from his church, including adults, youth, and children, processed at the police station by having his mug shot taken, fingers printed, and placed in a cell with others.
The judge noted that all charges against Holick later were dismissed, and the civil rights complaint was filed for the wrongful arrest.
“The defendants do not contest that they violated plaintiff’s constitutional rights,” the judge wrote.
[There are several videos at this web site including this one. All the videos are worth viewing.]
“Christians shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs,” said Joel Oster, a senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented Holick, at the time of the settlement. “We are pleased city of Wichita officials will now ensure that Pastor Holick is free to exercise his First Amendment rights in public without fear of arrest.”
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