Jump directly to the content

Bourbon Street's Notorious Nightlife Gains One More Controversial Activity: Preaching

New Orleans backs down on 2011 ban that led to arrest of pastors.
Bourbon Street's Notorious Nightlife Gains One More Controversial Activity: PreachingNagari/Flickr
Bourbon Street

New Orleans's Bourbon Street has long been notorious for its nightlife—particularly thanks to Mardi Gras and the year-round ability to (legally) drink alcohol while wandering the neighborhood. But amid the bars, strip clubs, and gay bars that line much of these 13 blocks in the historic French Quarter, there was one thing the city recently banned (or tried to ban) people from doing in public at night: preach.

In 2011, the city council passed a ban which restricted "disseminating any social, political or religious message" overnight on Bourbon Street. This resulted in disciplinary action against street preachers such as Paul Gros, a pastor who has challenged the First Amendment legitimacy of the law after being threatened with arrest. His lawsuit was consolidated with two other cases resulting from the arrest of nine preachers during a gay pride event in 2012.

The cases, including one where the ACLU defended a Christian woman who converted thanks to a Bourbon Street preacher, prompted a federal district judge to temporarily block the ban this past September.

Last week, the city council agreed to revoke the ban. New Orleans street preachers will once again enjoy freedom of speech—so long as they don't hazard a risk to passerby or traffic.

The city council passed the amended law 6-0 (one member absent), striking the prohibition on street preaching and narrowing the limitations on "offensive, obscene, or abusive" speech to a ban on "obscene language." The ordinance falls under the city's prohibitions on "aggressive solicitation."

Although the change won't necessarily mean the end of Gros's case in court, his lawyer believes that the lawsuits were a driving influence in opening up freedom of speech on Bourbon Street.

CT previously noted controversy when a street preacher spoke on homosexuality to passersby, and covered the rise of former New Orleans street preacher Fred Luter to become president of one of America's largest evangelical denominations.

CT also reported on New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Posted:August 2, 2013 at 11:38AM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
Recent Posts
Pope Francis’ Latest Convert: Kirsten Powers
Fox News commentator announces that she’s becoming Catholic.
The Pope's Growing Evangelical Flock
Catholics seem to be responding to Pope Francis’ encouragement to read their Bibles and pray on their own.
Physician-Assisted Suicide in California Becomes Legal as Gov. Brown Signs Bill
(UPDATED) Controversial law, inspired by Brittany Maynard, allows physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill.
Compassion International Sues Teen Mania over Acquire the Fire
Arrest warrant issued for Ron Luce, reports World magazine.
Christianity Today
Bourbon Street's Notorious Nightlife Gains One More Controversial ...