Utah State Representative Douglas C. Aagard has introduced a bill in the Utah House, HB0131, found here, that is currently titled, “Access to Health Care Facilities and Places of Worship.” It reads in part,
. provides that knowingly approaching within eight feet of a person for the purpose of passing out literature, displaying an object, or engaging in protest or counseling without the other person’s consent is a class B misdemeanor if the person is within 100 feet of an entrance door to a health care facility or place of worship;
. permits recovery of civil damages and injunctive relief against a person who violates the above provisions or who incites another person to violate the above provisions;
There is no question in my mind, of course, that this is in response to the activities of the KJV Only “Street Preachers” in Salt Lake City and their outrageous behavior exhibited there over the past few years. Their behavior is so far beyond anything that can be identified as rational (let alone Christian) that it has provided a basis for this denial of fundamental free speech rights to everyone (a common result of outrageous behavior). It is very sad to see this being attached to abortion clinics, however, and that under “Republican” sponsorship. The representative who introduced it, as far as I can tell, is a graduate of BYU, which, in Utah, is hardly uncommon, of course, but the chances that he himself has been the object of the ranting and raving of the “street preachers” is still fairly high. Clearly the bill is unconstitutional, but we are talking about Utah here, and unconstitutional laws have to be challenged, sometimes over long periods of time. We no longer go to Utah to pass out tracts at the General Conference, but it is still troubling to see this kind of heavy-handedness on the part of government officials.