Florida Charges Gideons with Being Too Close to a School

Two men have been charged after handing out Bibles near a school in Key Largo, Fla., WorldNetDaily reported.

Anthony Mirto and Ernest Simpson, members of The Gideons International, were first charged with trespassing, even though they were apparently not on school property when they were arrested Jan. 19. Those charges did not hold after attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed a motion for dismissal.

Monroe County officials then charged the men under a state law that bans anyone from being within 500 feet of school property without authorization or legitimate business.

David Cortman, senior legal counsel for ADF, said he’ll fight this one as well.

“This obviously is unconstitutional for several reasons,” he said. “The First Amendment gives you a right to be out there and engage in speech. Is anyone who uses the sidewalk or highway now in violation?”

Monroe County seems intent on punishing the men for communicating a religious message in public, Cortman said.

“Officials cannot use fear of arrest as a means of bullying law-abiding Christians into silence,” he added.