This video ignited a firestorm on my facebook. Take a look:
The complete story about this incident can be found here.
The controversy surrounds not with the behavior of law enforcement, which I think should be the focus this incident, but the behavior of the man reading the Bible. Much was said about how this man was an "obnoxious idiot," a "Bible-thumper," and a detriment to the Church. I really don't see that in the video, but let me grant it for the sake of the argument. Even if the man were to behave 100x's worse, would that justify an arrest? Even if he were Terry Jones can anyone justify an arrest--oh wait, that happened too!
As Lydia McGrew pointed out, this incident happened on public property on which no laws were broken. The video shows that the men were peaceful and stood at a distance away from others. Had this man been a Muslim, I think this point would have hit home, for political correctness would have seen to his protection, and no one would have dared lay a hand on him.
As believers, we should be just as compassionate for these brothers in Christ as we would have for the nonbelieving public. To reserve from them that which we would give to others is duplicitous. The man has been called an "obnoxious idiot," but not one said that the security guard or the patrolman were "obnoxious idiots," even though they were. I cannot in good conscience shame fellow Christians in public for what they were trying to do and for which they were unjustly arrested. I have even had one individual tell me that the man got what he deserved even though the patrolman was wrong--hello, contradiction? The three fellow believers in the video have been unjustly treated; I don't know why as a matter of principle we don't defend their legal rights first instead of savaging someone's character. We don't do this to nonbelievers, but we find it somehow acceptable to eat our own.
Having said that, I can now address the separate issue of the wisdom of standing at a DMV and reading aloud from the Bible to people who clearly don't appreciate the effort. First of all, that's weird. Out of context and out of place, it is a gratuitous intrusion on the sensibilities of the general public, especially to read Bible passages without an explanation of the reader's intentions. Christians and non-Christians alike readily attribute a negative character to anyone who would do so, as shown by the comments on my facebook thread.
Second, this type of "cold" preaching is, as people have accused, detrimental to the mission of the Church. By creating a situation in which the people associate the Gospel with weird, intrusive, and annoying Christians, one may taint the impression of the Gospel itself. This, of course, is not how real missionaries operate. In a strikingly similar case, believers who traveled to Dearborn, MI were unjustly arrested for trying to preach the Gospel to Muslims. But in that case, the Christians had a context, a clear limited scope, and brought people willingly into a dialogue about Jesus Christ.
I think we all agree that maybe these men should have behaved more wisely leading up to being falsely arrested, but if we justify the arrest in any way, shape, or form over and against the Constitution, we have all taken a step toward losing our own First Amendment rights. Hey, it's your freedom (and mine). It takes surprisingly few cases to set off unconstitutional limitations if they aren't constantly being defended.