In a long running legal struggle, an Arizona church is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine if religious speech is less important than political or other forms of speech.
Good News Community Church in Gilbert, Arizona, rents space where it can meet for weekly services. The church uses temporary signs for its meeting place, but the city’s sign code requires that the church’s signs be much smaller than others – and the church is only allowed to erect its signs on Saturday night and then take them down on Sunday. Political signs and business signs are treated differently.
Under Gilbert city ordinances, a political sign can be up to 32 square feet, while a sign for events of a church or other nonprofit can only be six square feet. Alliance Defending Freedom represents the church, and attorney Jeremy Tedesco explains the basis for the church’s case.
“Politicians can’t set up a system to give themselves nearly unlimited speech while practically silencing private citizens who operate a church,” he tells OneNewsNow.
According to statements from the town of Gilbert, the city follows a free-speech test allowed by some courts to determine the value of different kinds of noncommercial speech and the correspondent level of government protection deserved. An appeals court had earlier used that test to evaluate Good News Community Church signs as less valuable than other signs.
“It’s unconstitutional to allow the nearly year-round display of giant political signs, but then turn around and tell churches they can only have tiny signs up for a few hours in the middle of the night,” he explains. “The government simply cannot restrict religious speech based on an indefensible argument that it is less valuable than political speech.”
By Charlie Butts – One News Now –