Buoyed by a last-minute court injunction, a Wisconsin taxidermist who believes that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is sinful passed out Bibles on Sunday at yet another Twin Cities Pride Festival.
"I do this once a year. I talk to people about the love of Jesus Christ," said Brian Johnson, an evangelical Christian from Hayward, as he stood with his family and a black suitcase full of Bibles in Minneapolis' Loring Park, the epicenter of the 40th annual festival.
His legal route back to the park was convoluted. Festival organizers' attempts to ban Johnson from the park had resulted in a Minneapolis Park Board plan to restrict his Bible distribution to a booth on the edge of the festival. Two weeks ago, his request for an injunction against that ban was denied by a U.S. District Court judge.
But Johnson's attorneys immediately filed an emergency appeal, saying the Park Board's plan violated his constitutional right to free speech in a public place. They asked for a quick decision, one in time for the upcoming Pride Festival.
On Thursday, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction that allowed Johnson full access to the park Sunday, said his attorney, Jonathan Scruggs of the Alliance Defense Fund of Memphis, which defends religious liberties. Scruggs said the appeal will be argued in federal court to determine whether Johnson has access to future Pride Festivals.