Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Share the Faith on CTA Platforms


Chicago Transit Authority Affirms Right to Preach on Platforms

CHICAGO, November 13, 2008 ( - Mauck & Baker, LLC, and the Thomas More Society in Chicago have announced that they reached an out-of-court settlement after joining forces to preserve the constitutional right of Moody Bible student Matthew Rivera and his classmates to share the message of Jesus on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train platforms.

In July, Rivera was told by a CTA security guard that he could not preach at a subway platform without a permit. He was told he would need to pay a $10 fee, wear a badge and do his preaching in a small designated area where he may or may not have an audience.

Rather than risk arrest, Rivera stopped talking about God and offering people reading material. Another Moody student with Rivera was also evangelizing on the platform. He was told that his Texas driver’s license was not acceptable identification to obtain a permit and that he would need an Illinois license or ID card to be licensed.

Mauck & Baker attorney John Mauck exchanged communications with Eugene Munin, the CTA's first deputy general counsel, seeking a peaceful accommodation. Mauck convinced Munin to send a letter confirming that preaching is allowed on the platforms and not subject to licensure. The attorney emphasized that it is important to be able to preach where people congregate and that the First Amendment protects preaching.

In the end Munin acquiesced and provided a letter that states that “preaching” does not constitute “oration” (which requires licensure under a CTA ordinance), thereby confirming that Rivera and those who wish to spread the truth of the Gospel will be able to continue to preach without fear of arrest.

Rivera, Moody Bible Institute students, Jews for Jesus and other groups who wish to evangelize should now carry both the letter from the CTA and a supplemental letter from Mauck & Baker with them, said Mauck, which will ensure that there are no further incidents.

“Our objective,” said the attorney, “is always to preserve and extend the freedom to communicate the great message of God’s love rather than litigate. This experience with the CTA demonstrates that sometimes good communication and good will on both sides can avoid costly and time consuming court battles.”

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