A street preacher in Minnesota who dared to wear a T-shirt declaring “Jesus Saves” to the Mall of America in Bloomington was recently threatened with eviction from the mall if he didn’t remove the shirt because it was offending people.
The T-shirt also had a message stating “Jesus is the only way” with the word “co-exist” crossed out.
“Jesus is associated with religion and it’s offending people,” a mall security guard can be heard telling the preacher identified as Paul Shoro in a video recorded by Kameko Rawls and shared on Facebook.
Shoro attempted to explain to the security guard that his T-shirt wasn’t about religion but “eternal life,” but the security guard told him it’s the same thing.
“All we are asking you to do is to take your shirt off,” the guard said.
When Shoro insisted that he “didn’t speak” or “say anything” to anyone except wear his T-shirt, the guard insisted the only options he had were to take the offending T-shirt off or leave.
“If you want to shop here, you need to take that shirt off,” the security guard declared to Shoro forcefully as he kept enquiring why his shirt was offensive.
“Again sir, it is religious soliciting, there is no soliciting on property that is private property,” the guard replied.
Shoro responded that he is a U.S. citizen who knows the Constitution.
The preacher would later explain in a follow-up interview with Kingdom Bizness that he had been handing out tracts and witnessing at the mall a few weeks prior to the controversial Jan. 7 encounter and the security guards warned him not to do it.
“A couple weeks they find out that I am doing this and they warn me, do not do it again and I was really very angry because, I mean, they allow tens of thousands of people in that mall. You know, it’s the biggest mall in America. So I was so mad because they stopped me from preaching the Gospel,” he said.
During the recently concluded Christmas holiday season, Shoro explained that he was suspended for 24 hours for handing out tracts.
The day the mall security told him he needed to take off his shirt he said he told them, “I’d rather go to jail or I’d rather die.”
He said the Lord eventually sent an officer to intervene on his behalf. After the officer spoke to the security guards, he was told that he was “good to go” in the mall with his shirt intact.
The video of Shoro’s encounter at Mall of America has since gone viral and elicited many reactions from people like Pastor Jay Haizlip of The Sanctuary.
“A man wearing a ‘Jesus Saves’ shirt at @mallofamerica is ordered to take it off or leave. #persecution is happening and we must not back down. ‘Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.’ II Timothy 3:12,” he wrote on Twitter.
Some critics argued that Shoro’s T-shirt was offensive because he had “co-exist” crossed out and “that is hate speech.”