Thursday, October 17, 2013

Door-to-door evangelism and the law

I heard a brief but interesting discussion on the radio about door-to-door evangelism and the law. The law, for my discussion, means laws in the United States. Your mileage may vary in other countries.

Cities have begun to pass licenses and/or ordinances that are designed to curb citizens being disturbed by door knocking. One of the newest types are "Do Not Knock" laws. The "Do Not Knock" list idea is similar to the telephone "Do Not Call" lists intended to prohibit telephone solicitation. And we all like that, don't we? Ultimately these laws must recognize the constitutional guarantee of religious (and political) speech, as well as the right of persons to be secure in their homes. In 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court decided 8-1 the constitutional right of religions to go door-to-door and "witness" to homeowners who wished to listen, as well as the right to distribute religious literature (Watchtower Society v. Village of Stratton). 

I'm no legal expert, but it seems to me that the main points are:

1. Religious individuals have a constitutional right to "door-to-door free speech".

2. Government cannot restrict that right.
3. The individual owner has the right to restrict who will come on their property and what they do on their property.

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