Street preachers in Lincolnton are being accused of taking things too far. They have reportedly shouted above music during public concerts, pushed Bibles at people and called them names.
Now, the city is stepping in and asking for the public’s input on how to keep the peace at public events. For Mayor Ed Hatley, concern over the preachers is not about their message, but their method.
“It needs to be within confines that don’t interfere with concerts and other public agenda,” he said.
On Thursday, the mayor announced there will be a public hearing to address a proposed noise ordinance aimed at keeping anyone from being too loud, or assertive, during public events.
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“We want to keep it sane, and we want to protect our citizens as well as the street preachers,” Hatley said.
While many in the city feel that freedom of speech should allow anyone to be a part of these events, some say these men are taking things too far.
“They’re pushing it down people’s throats,” resident Renee Carpenter said.
Others don’t want to see any change in Lincolnton’s streets, inviting the message and the way it is being told.
“Sometimes it takes a little yelling to get people’s attention,” resident Jeffrey Hopper said.
Still, Mayor Hatley insists something needs to be done as a safety measure.
“What I’m afraid of is that it is going to result in something physically happening, or even worse,” he said.
A public hearing will be held on Dec. 7 at the Lincolnton council chambers.