Santa Monica School District officials & police officer misapply 653b of the Calif. Penal Code, violating evangelists’ constitutional rights to preach at high school (video included)

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It was encouraging to watch this video of Ronnie and his team preaching at Santa Monica High School. As expected some of the students could care less, but others were very interested in hearing more.

But sadly at the end (beginning at timestamp 28:20), you will see a female police officer approach Ronnie. The officer told Ronnie that his public preaching and even talking (a Biblical command) was “against Penal Code section 653b,” and she threatened or “warned” Ronnie with arrest.

This officer was either ignorant of that penal code, or she was lying to Ronnie, hopefully not the latter. Hence, the officer clearly violated their constitutional rights. You will even hear a student yell “wait wait wait, don’t stop freedom of speech.”

After examining Calif. Penal Code section 653b, not only did the evangelists not fulfill each element of this alleged crime that is necessary for prosecution, they did not satisfy even one element of this crime.

I contacted my friend Ronnie and we spoke about this incident. I won’t go into the details of our private conversation, but Ronnie had that “discerning” prompting by the Lord, and he knew exactly where this was coming from. Nonetheless, they decided to wrap-up their outreach.

The Shouse Law Group wrote a brief article about this penal code section, the following is an excerpt.

“Under California Penal Code 653b PC, you can face criminal charges in California for loitering at either:

• Any school; or
• Any public place at or near which children normally congregate (such as a playground or public pool)
• But it is important to note that you are only guilty of the crime of loitering at a school or place where children congregate if:

1. You did not have any lawful purpose for being at that place; and
2. You intended to commit a crime—such as Penal Code 278 PC child abduction or Health & Safety Code 11352 HS drug sales—at that place if the opportunity arose.” [1]

Therefore this statute is not appropriate nor applicable, and cannot be used to stop the preaching of the glorious Gospel outside public schools.

It’s sad that many ‘professing’ Christians and even ‘pastors’ are against open-air preaching (a sin of omission), but as I’ve said before, my primary mentors are the men of the Bible, and many others that have proceeded me in death. As Charles H. Spurgeon said ~

“No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting house. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and stone into the skies when there is so much need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below.”

Preach in the public now while it’s still legal, and when it becomes illegal – continue to preach.

It’s important to know these local laws. For an article / video where the police tried to apply 415PC to arrest me, click here.

Warning: There are some profanities in this video.

[1] Shouse California Law Group, Loitering at a School or Public Place Where Children Congregate, Penal Code 653b PC, (Accessed on December 18th, 2016)

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