A Georgia man is threatening to sue the city of Ringgold after he claims his constitutional rights were violated by police last Friday night, when officials asked him to stop bothering strangers’ children about his beliefs in the Christian deity figure Jesus Christ.
Cleveland, GA resident Daryl Banther and his 8-year-old son were reportedly handing out religious pamphlets and questionnaires at an annual celebration in Ringgold when he was confronted by the city manager and chief of police, who interrupted his proselytizing because a parent filed a police report about a strange man in the parking lot approaching children.
He left after repeated requests and was not arrested, but Banther vowed to return the next day. He then contacted the media and informed a reporter for WTVC-TV that he did just as promised, returning on Saturday night to find that he was not hassled at all.
Appearing on camera, he claimed that Christians no longer have any rights in America, then seemed aghast that an atheist could possibly file a lawsuit to force government officials to stop showing a preference for a religion.
“They were all harassing me because I have a constitutional right to do what I was doing,” Banther insisted. “If I’m anything else, I have rights,” he said. “…But as a Christian, we have rights no more. They’re taking all the Christian rights away and I’m going to stand for what’s right this time.”
The city told the station in a prepared statement that the event, the 1890s Day Jamboree, has “established procedures” for participation, like getting approval to put on any kind of exhibit. “Those exhibiting must have prior approval, and have a booth to operate the activity they are conducting,” the statement explained.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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