A local transit advertising agency refused to renew a pastor's contract because he advertised the name of Jesus.
"I asked the city person, 'Why are you not allowing me to advertise the name of Jesus?'" Charis Christian Center's Lawson Perdue says. "She said, 'Because if you use name of Jesus in ads, then we must allow hate messaging.'
"I said, 'Ma'am, the name of Jesus is in no way representing hate messaging,'" Perdue recalls.
Now, the Colorado Springs pastor says he is prepared to fight the discrimination all the way to the Supreme Court with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom.
The pastor's case for religious freedom is so strong even a prominent atheist sides with the pastor.
"I don't like that at all. I think that's wrong. To me, this is a violation of their First Amendment rights. We would caution the city of Colorado Springs to prepare for a lawsuit. I don't think this is one they're going to win," Military Religious Freedom Foundation's Mikey Weinstein told the Colorado Springs Independent.
"This is plainly censorship, plainly not freedom of speech or freedom of religion," Perdue says. "(My case) is so basic, it's so basic. What the city is quoting ... well, they are showing favoritism. I paid for ads, I bought space, and the name of Jesus not a hate message. I don't know what's wrong with them."
The city drama began last Tuesday. Perdue says Mountain Metro Transit, which runs the bus bench advertising Perdue purchased, received one complaint in the three years he has proclaimed the name of Jesus.
They refused to renew his contract. Perdue went to the mayor and Colorado Springs City Council.
In a statement, Mountain Metro Transit said its advertising policy is being reviewed in relation to the First Amendment, according to The Gazette. Spokeswoman Vicki McCann said Mountain Metro is working with the city attorney's office to determine if the advertising policy will be changed.
"I told a city council member when I talked to them, 'Listen I can produce 50,000 signatures in Colorado Springs (in favor of the bus bench ads with the name of Jesus),'" Perdue says. "I said, 'We are not going to stand for that. It's just not right.'"
Perdue says there are four levels of an attack concerning the ads.
The issue is not that they are not allowing us to advertise, but they are not allowing us to advertise the name of Jesus!
This is an attack:
1) On the First Amendment rights of all citizens of the United States of America.
2) On the freedoms that we enjoy as citizens of the U.S.
3) On all who call on the name of Jesus, including, but not limited to, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, and Charismatics.
4) On our personal and corporate faith as Christians (believers in Jesus).
Right now, Perdue says an ADF attorney has taken his case, but he has not filed an official lawsuit. The pastor refuses to back down, though, and will continue to preach the name of Jesus.
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