‘Return the People’s House back to the people’: Minister sues after 9/11 prayer vigil at Capitol denied

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is suing the United States Capitol Police board after he was denied permission to hold a prayer vigil on Capitol grounds on Sept. 11, to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on America.

Represented by the Center for American Liberty, the lawsuit cites a double standard, pointing to a protest by radical-left Democratic lawmakers and others allowed on the steps of the Capitol.

“What is abundantly clear is that the Capitol Grounds are not restricted to everyone. Representative Cori Bush and dozens of others protested for days—camping on the steps of the Capitol—demanding the renewal of an eviction moratorium,” the group said. “And that is not all. At least one other permit application was approved and that group held a large protest with a stage, sound equipment, and a significant media presence.”

Mahoney applied for a permit to hold a vigil on the Western Front Lawn and was told his permit application “could not be processed,” the reason being that the area was “closed,” according to the lawsuit.

“Consistent with Rev. Mahoney’s religious views, at the vigil, he seeks to ask God to, among other things, “protect and watch over America and bring healing to our world and build bridges to our Muslim neighbors,” the document noted.

In July, several members of “the squad” of progressive Democrats held an eviction moratorium protest on the Capitol steps.

Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Cori Bush, D-Mo., not only held the protest, they slept on the steps overnight.

“Many of my Democratic colleagues chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes,” Bush tweeted. “I’ll be sleeping outside the Capitol tonight. We’ve still got work to do.”

And the lawmakers had company:

Attorney Harmeet Dhillon tweeted: “I’m honored to represent [Rev. Mahoney] in his First Amendment lawsuit against the Capitol Police, who allow members of Congress [and] secular organizations to protest @ the Capitol, but will not allow a man of God to pray in the same place on 9/11. Pray for justice!”

In a video shared on social media, Mahoney asked for prayers in what he called an “outrageous violation” of free speech.

“In response to this outrageous violation of the First Amendment and free speech, we have filed a federal lawsuit which will be heard this week,” he said. “Please join me in prayer: Father, we cry out to you as we realize our freedom and our rights do not come from government, but they come from You. We pray that we will prevail in this lawsuit and that every American, regardless of their beliefs or values, would have the right to freely express them in the public square without government interference or intimidation. Return the People’s House back to the people.”

Tom Tillison

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