24 NovYour First Amendment Zone

As a life long resident of Duluth, MN I am always excited to bring my kids to Bentleyville during the Christmas season.

Bentleyville is in the news again this Christmas season because Steve Jankowski and Peter Scott want to preach their religious views inside the light display and they claim the city of Duluth can’t restrict this first amendment right. Bentleyville is set up in a city park, the event is free and open to the public and Mr. Jankowski & Mr. Scott are fighting the ruling the city can’t close off such a large area to their first amendment rights.

The Duluth News Tribune wrote a very nice article with some more details if you would like to reference it. I have attached a link.

Do we ever hear of Mr. Jankowski and Mr. Scott preaching in Bayfront Park any other time of the year? Not that I can recall. I take my kids to Bayfront Park all the time to play on the playground & run around. I have never been approached by them to hear about their religious beliefs so why are they making a fuss about the park now? Probably because hundreds of thousands of people are coming to the park to enjoy Bentleyville NOT a church service. This is their chance to “preach” to a big crowd. I don’t think there is any need for them to go inside the park and “preach.” Stay out of the park Mr. Scott and Mr. Jankowski if you are going to “preach.” No other organizations are trying to go inside the park and do their business. The business of the park from now until Christmas is Bentleyville. No one is going to Bentleyville to hear messages from Mr. Scott and Mr. Jankowski.

I do believe in the first amendment but this certainly is over the top. What makes America great is everyone’s opportunity to practice any type of religion a person wants. However, there is a time and place. I agree with the way the city is handling this situation and one could certainly argue Mr. Jankowski and Mr. Scott are hurting their cause by dragging this whole situation through the legal system. Mr. Scott and Mr. Jankowski if you want people to hear your messages why don’t you invite them to your place of worship. Let people decide if they want to hear you, not force people to hear you in a place where people are clearly not coming to see and hear you.

I would say religion is very important in my life but like I mentioned before, I am a strong believer in sharing with people at the appropriate time and place.

Inside Bentleyville is not the time or place for people to preach. Let’s just enjoy the lights and remember all the hard work done by hundreds of volunteers to put on such a great light display.

6 Responses to “Your First Amendment Zone”

  1. Daryl says:

    Thank you could not agree more!!

  2. J.L. says:

    Unfortunately, most people, and especially in our area, seem to have hardened their hearts to hearing the truth in the Bible and want nothing to do with Jesus and His plan of salvation. This was predicted nearly two thousand years ago and was addressed by Paul in the book of 2 Timothy: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:2-3). I appreciate Steve Jankowski’s and Peter Scott’s ministry as they fully realize that the Bible says they will be met with opposition just as Paul was when he wrote those words to Timothy and the early Christians (and, through the Bible, as God’s inspired word to all). While I don’t use this specific method of spreading the Gospel that Jankowski and Scott do, my wife and I host a Bible study in my home, I give out tracts, and participate in ministry in my church as these are the ways the Lord has called me to spread the Gospel. I support my brothers in Christ as they follow what the Lord has called them to do. Their desires, as mine, are to see more souls be saved. They could be spending their time for other things, but instead they want to share their time with people to tell them about Jesus as the reason for Christmas and so that people can know how they can be sure they will make it to Heaven. They and I are concerned that the freedom to talk about sin as the Bible defines it as well as the need for repentance from sin as part of a saving faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32, Acts 2:38) is endangered and even many large Christian denominations have abandoned this teaching in favor of traditions or opinions of man. These “First Amendment Zones” are an attempt to shut out the Constitution and the freedoms it protects, including the freedom of this ministry group to preach the Gospel as the Lord has commanded them to.

    As we look at current events in the news it is clear that Jesus’ return is drawing near. The Bible says in Luke 12:40, “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” That’s why Bentleyville, this blog, or other places not necessarily in a church building are all times and places that the Gospel should be preached. There is no more important need. The need is universal, as Romans 3:23 says that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Once Jesus returns, there are no second chances…we will all some day face judgment by Him. Those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus as the Bible says will be saved by His grace and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Those who have not will be judged accordingly for their sin and will not be with Jesus in Heaven. This is a sad and difficult end that people don’t want to hear about, but the Bible says it is true. With one’s eternal future at stake, why isn’t something the time and the place to hear the truth and consider whether one is ready if that hour comes sooner than we think? I hope that our First Amendment rights will prevail and that this ministry will be able to continue to “…Go ye, into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

  3. Dan Hurley says:

    I mostly agree, but I will say that these guys are around a LOT. They tend to show up at every major event in Duluth. I have seen them at Bayfront, Christmas City of the North Parade and they are regulars by the Canal Park slip bridge during warmer weather. Their message seems to be based largely on fear and intimidation rather than love. It’s more of a “repent or go to hell” rather than a “hey God exists and wants to have a relationship with you” kind of message. To me, “repent or burn” is no gospel at all. What they do really tarnishes the true gospel of love (which does include accountability for one’s actions certainly – but not threats). It is idiots like this that we have to deal with when encountering many of those we seek to bring to God who have been turned off by religion. This is what turns people off.

    • Larry A. Singleton says:

      “Their message seems to be based largely on fear and intimidation rather than love. It’s more of a “repent or go to hell” rather than a “hey God exists and wants to have a relationship with you” kind of message. ”

      No offense, but I hear THIS kind of thing A LOT. Mostly regarding Islam and from LoonWatch wackos who like to shoot their mouth off and criticize but don’t give a lot of facts or specifics…. ….as in your case.

      How exactly are they being intimidating? Are they getting right in your face? Nose to nose kind of thing? When you try to walk by do they follow you? Hounding you by walking beside you and shouting in your ear? Telling you to repent? That you’re going to hell?

      I got a letter from Sharla Gardner. Apparently she didn’t like my tone and the fact that I was being “judgmental” of her fair city.

      I haven’t written back. Like other things I thought I’d do some research before I shot my big mouth off….like I have a habit of doing sometimes. However, when I’m wrong I’ll fall all over myself to apologize.

      I’m not finding too much of a reason to so far. We’ll see.

      Does Duluth REALLY have a “First Amendment Zone”?

  4. Matt says:

    Yes, I am religious, but these guys are going about spreading the Word in the wrong way. Can I come to their church during their services and try to spread my religion then? If I can’t, then why not? In fact, I might just come down to Bentleyville and and push tracts and other information directly to them.

  5. Ray says:

    The said thing is when people say “I believe in the First Amendment, but…” But nothing! That is called being double-minded! There have been hundred of thousands of men and women (mostly younger than 30) that have spilled their blood for the freedoms we have in this country. When you say “but” then you don’t support these rights given to us by these dead young men and women (and those still alive). It isn’t about “time and place” or “this isn’t my method” or anything else. It’s about the FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT that these two young men have. As said earlier, these men go to a whole host of events in Duluth…and YES, even other events at Bayfront Park. That is there right! It doesn’t really matter if I am a believer or not. If I agree with them or not. We live in America people…it is their right as determined by the courts in the past. I think the REALLY sad thing about all of this is that the city of Duluth has NO CLUE about First Amendment Rights. This type of thing has been settled in courts all the time (the “God hates fags” people even won a federal court case to stand outside of funerals. I don’t agree with what they do, but I do agree they have the right!) but the city of Duluth is just wasting tax payers money simply because they either don’t like the message, Mr. Bentley is pulling strings, or because the light show brings in a lot of money to the city. I wonder what the parent’s of dead soldiers would think of those reasons behind limiting and/or censoring First Amendment Rights? Did their children die for money or rights? Power or rights?
    Does anyone even think anymore?

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