Bible-distributing family arrested at Pride Festival
Brian and Doris Johnson have passed out free Bibles at the Twin Cities Pride Festival for 11 years, but this year their free gifts got them arrested. After being told they couldn't have a booth at this year's festival, the family came anyway and ended up behind bars for trespassing.
The Pride Festival started Saturday in Loring Park and is considered the third-largest GLBT celebration in the nation. Since the festival rented out the entire park, police said they could choose which vendors to allow in the park.
The Johnsons are born-again Christians and believe homosexuality is a sin. Pride organizers said their booth with "signs about Jesus, models of fetuses and stack of bibles" caused discussions that offended some participants. Organizers were concerned about letting a vendor discriminate against the GLBT community at their own event.
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"It is not, in our belief, discrimination, certainly not. If anything, we're worried about being discriminated against at our own event," said Twin Cities Pride's David Hill.
There are many organizations including churches in the area that are affirming of the GLBT community. But festival organizers say the Johnsons are not.
"Are you not discriminating against me because I'm a Born Again Christian, and isn't discrimination against the content of speech, isn't that discrimination?" said Johnson.
While the Johnsons did sign the festival's anti-discrimination statement, signing is not enough. A dozen e-mails were exchanged and the Johnson's could not convince organizers that they would be accepting of the GLBT community, so they will not have a booth this year. The Johnsons say they will still attend the Pride Fest and try to hand out bibles.
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