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« on: November 06, 2004, 04:07:48 PM »

Initially Snubbed, FGBMI Sees 1,100+ Salvations at AZ State Fair

by Jim Brown
November 5, 2004

(AgapePress) - A Phoenix-based pro-family law firm says a recent First Amendment victory has helped further the spread of the gospel.

Arizona State Fair officials had refused to rent exhibitor space to the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, claiming that too many people had found their speech "personally offensive" at the previous year's fair. At the same time, the fair granted space to other groups that even included profanity and blatant sexual references in their messages.

But as Alliance Defense Fund attorney Elizabeth Murray points out, officials with the fair reversed their decision after being accused of suppressing free speech. "The Alliance Defense Fund was able to send a letter to State Fair officials, arguing that the First Amendment does not allow them to discriminate based on the content of the speech," the attorney explains.

After officials were informed they were acting unconstitutionally, the Fellowship was permitted to rent a booth at this year's fair. Murray says the turnaround yielded positive results. "The Lord has really blessed the dedication of the Business Men's Fellowship," she says, "and over a thousand people accepted Christ as their Savior at the Arizona State Fair this year."

In fact, a spokesman for the Southern Arizona chapter of the Fellowship reports 1,130 individuals indicated their desire to become a Christian as a result of the group's presence at the fair this year.

The ADF attorney says the case should remind Christians that "perseverance does really pay off -- especially when the law's on your side." And Murray adds that judging by the number of people who stopped by the group's booth demonstrates that the charge of the Christian message being offensive was baseless.



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