The following was sent to me by Mark Tolson.Â For those who pass outÂ gospel tracts I think you will find it interesting to say the least.Â Tract distributors are sometimes hindered in their work by town and city officials. Sometimes they are forbidden to give out Christian literature from house to house. Many towns and cities have passed ordinances against such distribution. In the light of a Supreme Court decision, such ordinances are wrong; and ANY LOCAL OFFICIAL WHO STOPS TRACT DISTRIBUTION HAS NOT ONLY GONE BEYOND HIS POWER, BUT HAS INTERFERED WITH THE LIBERTY OF THE DISTRIBUTOR. Â In an opinion rendered by Chief Justice, the Honorable Charles E. Hughes, on March 28, 1938, in the case of Lovell versus the City of Griffin, Georgia, the following was said:Â The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. Liberty of circulation is as essential to that freedom as liberty of publishing. Indeed, without the circulation, the publication would be of little value.”Â Since that decision of March, 1938, other cities have enacted laws defining the prescribed literature and specifying times and places. The Supreme Court has called these also illegal: it voided three city ordinances prohibiting the distribution of handbills because they littered the streets, and a municipal law requiring permits for door-to-door canvasing.Â The appeals to the high court came from Los Angeles and from Worcester, Mass. where persons had been arrested for distributing meeting announcements, also from Irvington, N.J.Â The tribunal’s 7-to-1 decision, Justice McReynolds dissented, was delivered by Justice Roberts. a municipality, the court ruled, may enact “regulations in the interest of public safety, health, welfare, or convenience,” but may not deprive anyone of his civil rights to circulate information and opinion. To prevent littering, cities must punish those who actually throw papers on the streets. The Irvington law, the court declared, was not limited to those who canvass for personal profit to everyone – including “one who wishes to present his views on political, social, or economic questions” – and such censorship through license “strikes at the very heart of the constitutional guarantees.”Â With legal approval plus divine sanction, tract workers may spread the name and fame of the Lord Jesus Christ from door to door and shore to shore by printed page.Â The freedom of press and of religion is guaranteed to us by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Federal Constitution. One who is rightfully on a street which the state has left open to the public carries with him there as elsewhere the constitutional right to express his views in an orderly fashion.. This right extends to the communication of ideas by handbills and literature as well as by the spoken word.Â Tract distributors should carry the above with them; it might help out in an emergency. You are not a criminal but a Christian about your Master’s business. However, he would be kind and courteous, although firm and fearless.Â Gospel tracts and personal work are the simplest forms of Christian work and a work that everyone can do. They are also the most effective methods of winning souls. They accomplish great things for God and provide a great opportunity, a great open door to reach the lost.Â Old Paths Tract Society, Inc.
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