Kansas Pastor Banned From Islamic Center After Handing Out Bibles

A Kansas pastor has been banned from an Islamic center after he was arrested while handing out Bibles in front of the house of worship.

On Thursday, Sedgwick County District Judge Phil Journey sentenced Mark Holick to 12 months of unsupervised probation.

Holick, who was found guilty of loitering and disrupting a local business, was ordered to pay a $300 fine and to stay at least 1,000 feet away from the Islamic Society of Wichita.

Holick, pastor of Spirit One Christian Ministry, was arrested in August 2010 after he and more than a dozen members of his congregation went to the Islamic center to demonstrate while the center's members were observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Holick argued that his group was there just to hand out Bibles. However, police said he was making a scene and blocking the center's entrance. Officers ordered Holick to move to a public sidewalk and he refused, resulting in his arrest.

"The only reason you were the one arrested is because you were the only one who disobeyed the police orders," Journey told Holick, according to The Associated Press.

An appeal from a conviction in a Wichita Municipal Court took Holick's case to the district court. During his trial, Holick requested a jury, who deemed him guilty of two counts of loitering and disrupting a local business, last month.

Holick had appealed the original conviction handed down in municipal court last month, which is how the Kansas preacher ended up before Journey.

In a 15-minute speech during his July trial, Holick argued that his First Amendment right to express his religion was violated in his arrest and charge.

In addition, he quoted Bible verses in order to convey his conviction and reasoning for protesting in front of the Islamic Center.

"Wichita is confused," Holick said, according to AP. "I am not your enemy. Islam is. The Lord said there will be no other gods before me."

Journey countered, asking, "What if the shoe had been on the other foot and someone from the Islamic center had come to your place and tried to convert your members and had blocked your driveway?"

If Holick does not uphold the conditions of his probation, he could face up to six months in prison.

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