Chicago reaches big settlement with Christian college students blocked from sharing their faith in public park

Daily Caller News Foundation

The city council of Chicago settled with four college students for $205,000 after they were kicked out of a city park for evangelizing, according to Christianity Today.

The students from Wheaton College filed suit against the council in September 2019 after Millennium Park security informed the students that they were not allowed to pass out literature or “make speeches,” according to Christianity Today. The council and the students reached a settlement Wednesday of $205,000 and are now allowed to continue evangelizing in the park.

“I’m thankful that the gospel is going to be preached in Millennium Park again,” Caeden Hood, one of the students, told Christianity Today. “We’re willing to work with the authorities. … That’s fine. We just don’t want the proclamation of the gospel to be hindered.”

During an initial hearing in 2019, Scott Stewart, executive director of the Millennium Park Foundation, argued that the park was different than other public spaces because it was for the purpose of art, but when pressed he and other park officials admitted that speech was limited due to its “intent,” according to Christianity Today. A year later, the city changed its rules regarding speech in the park but a court determined the changes would likely “fall short of constitutional requirements.”

The city attempted to settle with the students earlier, according to the student’s attorney John Mauck, who spoke with Christianity Today, but the agreement would have required them to no longer evangelize in the park, which the students declined.

“We live in the real world,” Mauck said. “We have to compromise. But I don’t feel Scripture authorizes us to give away other people’s rights to hear the gospel.”

The city council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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