The left aggressively uses the government to silence Christians, according to Erick Kaardal, Thomas More Society Special Counsel. “In politics, we need to have foresight rather than being more reactionary,” he said in an interview with the Register. “We are going to have to work harder and become more sophisticated.”
If by “sophisticated” Kaardal means “wise,” then Scripture agrees. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, (Matthew 10:16).
An example of a reactionary move is the recent case of Ann Redding, a 63-year-old grandmother and the president and co-founder of Christian Action League of Minnesota. A harassment lawsuit was filed against her and the league in March for using postcards and emails as part of a protest against pornography, strip clubs and the like. It was settled in July with the league agreeing to refrain from contacting Frost’s firm, which it was going to do anyway. The league had sought a dismissal.
But now, the nonprofit Thomas More Society, which defends life, family and religious liberty, is going on the offensive. They are filing a lawsuit against the bad city ordinance used against Redding so that it cannot be used again against Christians. At issue is the right to freedom of speech.
"It’s a hugely consequential First Amendment case,” Kaardal explained. “It is being followed closely by legal experts specializing in First Amendment rights.”
The Christian Action League of Minnesota was founded in 2010 as an effort to stop City Pages— a free weekly magazine distributed in newsstands and restaurants—from advertising strip clubs, pornography and chat lines. The City Pages is owned by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which does not carry such advertisements.
Redding sends out a monthly newsletter to the league’s 150 members with inspiration and news as well as identifying businesses that advertise with City Pages or distributes it. Subscribers are encouraged to contact them by postcard or email or call directly and implore them to end their association with City Pages. Occasionally business owners will say thank you for letting them know and some have stopped advertising or carrying the publication.
“Their typical issue used to be 65-69 pages is now only 36-38 pages,” Redding said. “We know they are losing advertisers, but we can’t say for sure that it’s because of us.”
When the owner of the R. Leigh Frost Law Firm received 2 postcards and an email, she considered it harassment according to Minnesota Statute 609.748, which defines it as “repeated unwanted words.” Frost threatened Redding with a restraining order if the postcards did not cease. One of the cards from Redding stated: “City Pages promotes strip clubs and porn. As a woman, are you OK with that?”
Redding said she asks supporters to stop contacting businesses that request to be left alone. But in this case, there was still one postcard that had crossed in the mail with Frost’s threat to cease or face legal consequences. She immediately filed the restraining order.
Frost’s trigger-happy lawsuit revealed a weapon that could be used again and again against Redding and the league. “Restraining orders are necessary to protect people,” according to Kaardal, “but they should not be used as a weapon against free speech.” Copycat lawsuits from leftist activist are common, so he said it is important to close off that possibility. Until then, Redding has temporarily halted the mail campaign.
“We haven’t given up the fight,” she said. “I will be fighting this until the day I die. We are not going away until the problem goes away and it’s always going to be rearing its ugly head.” For now, Redding protests silently by wearing a big button with a slash mark over the words “City Pages.”
“I have seen the culture change,” Redding said. “Much damage has been done to our youth and I feel called to do something about it. We are just a small piece of this, but God equips us to fight and he can work with small numbers.”
“Harassment restraining orders are handed out every day in every county in the U.S.,” Kaardal explained. “Such a fundamental point of law and should be of interest to everyone right now especially to Christians. Otherwise, this can be used against anyone who does not like information being disseminated that might work against them.”
Small groups and individuals that cannot afford to get tied up in court will be easily silenced, according to him. “Ann is an outstanding example of someone taking on a task even if it means risks,” Kaardal said. “She had this mission chosen for her; by protecting herself she is protecting everyone.”