The Australian High Court has banned a controversial church from public preaching without a permit, arguing that such a ruling does not constitute as infringement of freedom of speech.
"It's obviously disappointing to hear the judges deny freedom of political communication," said Samuel Corneloup, who along with his brother Caleb preaches at the Street Church in Adelaide, Australia.
"We've always wanted to be law-abiding citizens. What we always wanted were permits to preach in the mall, and the council repeatedly denied us," Corneloup continued, according to The Australian. "We're happy that, with this ruling, the council can't reject us (for permits) because of our content, they can only reject us for obstructing people."
As found in information available on their website, Street Church rejects many Christian denominations as having drifted from the true message of the Gospel.
"We believe the Pope is anti-Christ and the Catholic Church is the woman that rides the beast revealed in the Revelation of John," the church says in their core beliefs.
"We believe that the majority of the 'Assemblies of God (AOG)' 'Baptist union' 'Church of Christ' 'Uniting Church' and other denominations in Australia have been corrupted with a false gospel, a lack of teaching on biblical assurance of Salvation and have been given over to a spirit of covetousness (greed)," Street Church adds.
The Corneloup brothers were requesting to continue preaching at the town's Rundle Mall, and earlier won a case in the South Australian Supreme Court that found a ban on such preaching would be unconstitutional.
The Full Court, which is the ultimate appeals court of Australia, clashed with the South Australian Government over whether words such as preach, canvas and harangue were inconsistent with the implied constitutional freedom of political communication, ABC News Australia reported.
Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood said that the court made the right verdict, explaining that the preachers were not banned from expressing their beliefs.
"We need to take a good look at the High Court outcome and actually speak to the administration and make sure that we've got our head around this and that we're going to do the right thing going forward," Yarwood said.
"We certainly would like to work with the preachers to minimize the impacts on all city users, but also not curtail freedom of speech."
Council CEO Pete Smith insisted that the prime concern was to ensure the safety, enjoyment and comfort of shoppers and traders at the mall, some of whom could take objection to such preaching.
"Everyone has the right to free speech, and we are fully supportive of that. We just want to make sure that they exercise that right in a respectful way," Smith said.
SA Attorney-General John Rau reflected that the implications of the decision by the High Court remain to be determined.
"We were put in the awkward position where these people were unrepresented and it was necessary for, in effect, for the state to make it possible for the High Court to even hear this case," Rau said.
"I haven't yet got a settled final bill but when I do I'm happy to make that public."