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HomeAll The NewsChristian Prosecuted in An Arkansas Court for Preaching

Christian Prosecuted in An Arkansas Court for Preaching

Executive Editor’s Note: This is a press release from the National Association of Christian Lawmakers that was released on June 14 and was shared by Family Council President Jerry Cox on June 17.

Jeremy Anders is a man who has overcome significant challenges and holds great love in his heart. He endured malicious bullying during his childhood and teenage years and sought support and relief from inappropriate sources. As a young adult, he found himself battling addiction and living a LGBTQ lifestyle.

However, Mr. Anders experienced a life-changing transformation when he surrendered his life to the Lord in the spring of 2010. Through divine intervention, he was delivered from that lifestyle. In 2013, he dedicated himself to the ministry of preaching, starting with a nursing home ministry. In 2015, he felt a calling to reach out to those still trapped in the LGBTQ lifestyle, utilizing Facebook and street preaching as platforms to spread his message. Since then, he has faithfully carried out this ministry.

On June 5, 2022, while driving through Batesville with his mother, Mr. Anders felt compelled to preach on a public sidewalk in downtown Batesville, in front of a closed establishment. During his preaching, he was confronted by an individual who threatened to involve the police if he did not stop. Despite asserting his rights, Mr. Anders was approached later that evening by two officers who warned him against returning to the same sidewalk location, citing potential charges of harassment and criminal trespass. Despite continuing his ministry while avoiding confrontations, Mr. Anders was unexpectedly arrested for harassment on April 20, 2023, during his routine commute to work. He spent over 24 hours in jail solely for preaching.

Mr. Anders’ trial took place in Batesville District Court on Wednesday, June 14. Bob Ballinger, the director of Law and Policy for the National Association of Christian Lawmakers (NACL), appeared as Mr. Anders’ defense counsel in court. The objective was to protect Mr. Anders’ individual rights and safeguard the right to preach and speak on sidewalks in Arkansas for all citizens. The judge has yet to rule on Mr. Anders’ guilt or innocence. He has requested the attorneys to submit briefs to him for consideration prior to issuing his final order.

Ballinger, renowned for his advocacy on religious liberty and First Amendment issues during his time as a legislator, expressed his deep concerns regarding the incident. He stated, “This case represents one of the most egregious violations of the First Amendment I have witnessed in Arkansas. Our Constitution upholds religious expression through the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses, and our state’s religious freedom protections necessitate strict scrutiny whenever governmental actions impede religious expression.”

He further emphasized, “The Supreme Court, in Curtis Pub. Co. v. Butts, declared that the ‘dissemination of the individual’s opinions on matters of public interest’ is an ‘unalienable right that governments are instituted to secure,’ as articulated in the Declaration of Independence. Governments that fail to protect such rights are not fulfilling their purpose.”

Former Senator Jason Rapert, founder and president of NACL, expressed his views on the matter, saying, “Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble are all enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for an important reason — they are critical freedoms in our constitutional republic. Our founding fathers placed them at the top of the Bill of Rights because they wanted these rights to be protected for every individual. Mr. Anders was peacefully standing on a public sidewalk exercising his freedom of religion, freedom of speech and his right to peacefully assemble in Batesville. He was preaching the Word of God. He should never have been arrested, and I am appalled that he was prosecuted for preaching in the state of Arkansas.”

When asked about his ministry, Mr. Anders summarized, “To put it simply, Jesus Christ can liberate you from the sins and bondage of homosexuality, and if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” He further expressed his unwavering commitment to his faith and that he hopes his case will set a precedent for the protection of religious expression in public spaces for others.

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