Paul Johnson, the Tennessee grandfather who was forbidden to read his Bible in the public square without a permit, has received a response from the municipality that banned him.
“Thank you for your email/letters to the City of Sweetwater, its mayor, recorder and attorney regarding Paul Johnson’s exercise of his first amendment right to freely express his religious beliefs on public ways in Sweetwater, Tennessee,” wrote City Attorney John Cleveland, Sr., in a letter dated last Friday.
“You may accept this letter as your requested written assurance that the City of Sweetwater, Tennessee, will allow Mr. Johnson to peacefully share his religious beliefs in Sweetwater without requiring him to apply for or obtain any permit pursuant to Ordinance 16-110 of the Municipal Code of the City of Sweetwater, Tennessee,” he continued.
Johnson’s attorneys threatened to pursue legal action if the city did not send him a letter of assurance that his religious liberties would be respected the next time he chose to read from his Bible on the sidewalk. In addition to granting his request, the City of Sweetwater actually encouraged his feedback.
“The City appreciates your bringing to its attention the constitutional infirmities in the ordinance identified in your correspondence. We would appreciate any suggestions you might have regarding potential amendments to or replacement of Ordinance 16-110 that would meet your perceived constitutional requirements.”
City Recorder Jessica Morgan provided this statement to the press:
“As discussed, The City of Sweetwater appreciates the rights of free speech. We have never banned anyone from reading any book in public on a sidewalk.
Liberty Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys responded to the statement, saying it “indicates significant progress toward a positive resolution.”
This story illustrates the effective change which is brought about as the result of all Americans speaking out in defense of free speech.