Christians have long viewed shopping malls as a prime witnessing location because of the large numbers of people who pass through them. Yet, some malls have put up barriers to make witnessing difficult. What can a Christian legally do in malls, and what is unacceptable?
Attorney David Gibbs, Jr., writing in the newsletter for the Christian Law Association, offers some great insight into this issue.
It is not unusual for security guards to ask people to leave a mall when it becomes apparent that person is talking to people about Christ, and sharing gospel tracts.
Gibbs has promised that the Christian Law Association is prepared to go to court in every state, if necessary, to make sure Christians are permitted the same privileges as anyone else to speak about whatever they wish while shopping.
He reports that already, the courts in the states of California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Massachusetts, have recognized that even though they may be private property, shopping malls are "public forums" where people gather and share their ideas and views.
It would be considered perfectly acceptable for a shopper to tell another person about his favorite vacation destination, and even pull a brochure describing it from pocket or purse, and give the brochure to that person.
Christian shoppers deserve the same rights already being exercised by "non-religious" shoppers.
The key word here is "shopper." In many states, malls are private property, where the owner can control what happens at his site. But Christian shoppers cannot be prevented from what courts call "incidental" interactions with other shoppers.
It doesn't matter whether the subject discussed is a vacation resort, a football game or hobby. People can discuss what they want, and even share a piece of literature. But if you're not a shopper, you can be asked to leave.
Gibbs sums up how to witness in malls with four simple points:
- Talk to others
- Hand them literature
- Keep shopping