PHILADELPHIA - America’s most cherished liberties of freedom of religion and speech will go head-to-head with the government again on Wednesday, January 9, 2008 as Repent America (RA) director Michael Marcavage is hauled before a federal judge for preaching to those waiting in line at the Liberty Bell Center. The Honorable Arnold C. Rapoport will preside over the arraignment hearing in the case of United States of America vs. Michael A. Marcavage at 10:00 a.m. in the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. In October of last year, Marcavage was arrested by the National Park Service for continuing to preach on public property after refusing to move to a so-called “free speech zone” and charged under the Code of Federal Regulations.
During Repent America’s annual pro-life evangelism tour on October 6, 2007, RA was reaching out to those visiting the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall with the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as park rangers continuously harassed the ministry team for refusing to relocate to a “free speech zone”. While preaching against America’s toleration of abortion and on repentance from sin to those waiting in line at the Liberty Bell Center, Marcavage was arrested on the public sidewalk just outside the building that houses the bell.
“In a land that tolerates the killing of unborn children, it is not surprising that we find ourselves in a continual battle for our freedoms. When the church is silent as the most helpless among us have their beating hearts stopped at the hands of abortionists, then we do not deserve liberty,” stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. “Although we do not deserve the blessings of liberty that God has bestowed upon our nation, we must be good stewards by working to preserve and utilize them to help bring an end to the abortion holocaust,” Marcavage continued. “In Philadelphia – the birthplace of American freedom – we will, as the Scripture-inscribed Liberty Bell declares, ‘Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof’ (Leviticus 25:10) regardless of the efforts to silence us,” Marcavage concluded.
Under the direction of Ian Crane, chief ranger of Independence National Historical Park, supervising ranger Alan Saperstein repeatedly approached Marcavage to demand that he and the ministry team move to a “free speech zone” on the other side of the Liberty Bell Center, which was nowhere near those entering or exiting. Adding insult to absurdity, Saperstein stated that in the future that RA would need to obtain a written permit to even speak in the “free speech zone,” but given a “verbal permit” to go there for the day, which Marcavage refused, citing that constitutional protections were sufficient. When it became apparent that Marcavage was not going to yield to the unconstitutional demands, Saperstein arrested Marcavage and ordered the other members of the ministry team off the public sidewalks. Ironically, Marcavage was then physically escorted into the Liberty Bell Center for questioning and charged with violating the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, § 1.6 Permits (g)(2), which states that he violated the terms and conditions of a permit – a permit that Marcavage never accepted.
Repent America has been ministering at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center for years without incident. Chief Ranger Ian Crane, who was off duty the day of the arrest, told Marcavage in a telephone discussion that due to policy changes freedom of religion and speech are now prohibited anywhere on the public park grounds without a permit, and only then if in the designated “free speech zone”. RA will be challenging these unconstitutional restrictions once the criminal case is resolved.
Details of the arraignment hearing:
Date: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. Location: U.S. Courthouse 601 Market Street 5th Floor Ct. Rm #5C Philadelphia, PA 19106 Contact: Ms. Helen Nicholas, Deputy Clerk Phone: (610) 434-5427 Judge: Honorable Arnold C. Rapoport
"If my people, which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their
wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land." II
Chronicles 7:14 KJV