LINCOLNTON, N.C. - Street preachers in Lincolnton are accused of yelling, calling people names and shoving Bibles in people’s faces at local events, and city officials are trying to take action against it.
The mayor said at a recent downtown event a street preacher saw a woman legally buying beer.
The preacher called her offensive names mixed with Biblical references.
Her husband confronted the man and the situation did not get physical, but the mayor fears the next one will.
"I'm afraid that it is going to escalate either into a physical confrontation, or this day and time with people carrying concealed weapons, even worse," Mayor Ed Hatley said.
The City Council is trying to write a new ordinance to stop what Hatley calls unwanted disturbances.
He said it is not about religion, but harassment.
"We are not at all trying to stop the message,” Hatley said. “We are trying to stop the method."
The new noise ordinance would stop anyone being loud in an aggressive manner.
"I don't know how you can compare a street preacher to a noise ordinance," resident Randy Gantt said.
Gantt has seen the street preachers.
"I think that we can use more preaching in the United States," Gantt said.
However, he said it’s hard to defend anyone using harsh words.
A man who posted videos of street preachers said the city should be careful about infringing on free speech.
"Freedom of speech is either equivalent and equal to all, or it's not and we should strike it from the Constitution," said Buddy Fisher, with Buddy Fisher Ministries.
But he added that Christianity should emphasize love to draw people in.
The next public hearing on this issue is in December.
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