Americas

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: Preaching
Image: Nagari/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 ...

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