Pastor Jeff Durbin, pastor and cofounder of Apologia Church in Tempe, Arizona, is known for standing for Christ against any odds. Durbin and the End Abortion Now (EAN) outreach team can frequently be seen, in person and live on Facebook, witnessing to the public, to Mormons, and to mothers considering abortion at local Planned Parenthood sites. With such a bold street ministry, Durbin and EAN are accustomed to frequent, sometimes abusive harassment. Last week, however, Pastor Durbin wasn’t hassled by a disgruntled atheist or pro-abortion activist— this time it was an officer of the Tempe City Police seeking to silence him.
Not long after beginning to witness and preach the gospel outside the abortion clinic in Tempe, a police officer came to the scene to respond to a complaint made by a local. Durbin, who has handled local police during protests before, came armed with printed copies of the city code, along with a supreme court ruling proving that his use of a megaphone was not against the law.
Initially, the officer requested Pastor Durbin’s identification and notified him of the complaint.
“Are you arresting me or charging me with a crime?” Durbin asked the officer. “Not at this point,” the officer said. “You are a law enforcement official,” Durbin said. “The law says in order for you to say I am disturbing the peace, it has to be more than a vague generality of your own opinion. You have to have a calibrated meter that demonstrates I am over 65 decibels. It is the city code.”
The officer, seemingly dumbfounded by Durbin’s understanding of the law, continued to listen as Durbin explained, “the problem is, we have freedom of speech rights. Somebody saying you are disturbing my peace because I don’t like your message or I can hear it isn’t a valid reason to undo the constitution of the United States that says I have freedom of speech.”
The incident had maintained a calm tone until a supervising officer arrived at the scene. She, being much less cordial, began demanding Pastor Jeff’s identification and stated that she was officially issuing him a warning for using amplification.
“Officer, you can’t do that unless you have a calibrated meter, according to the city code,” Pastor Durbin reminded her. The supervisor sharply replied, “Oh, we can.”
After further refusal from the officer to cite or even read the law, Pastor Jeff proclaimed, “I reject your warning. We are going to continue to use sound amplification because it’s our constitutional right. If you try to violate our constitutional rights, we will sue you and the city of Tempe.”
Durbin then continued to rebuke the officer: “You are engaging in thuggish, oppressive, unconstitutional behavior. Officer, you need to repent of your lawless conduct… You don’t know the law, and yet you pretend to represent it… You will be sued, sir. This entire activity has been documented on video.”
After the police had left the scene, Pastor Jeff explained for viewers, “If Christians don’t actually stand on what the law is, and actually confront lawless behavior of police officers, they will continue to oppress people, they will continue to perpetuate injustice, they will continue to violate our rights. And they will actually try to halt ministries like this that work to rescue children.”
Durbin has reported that the City of Tempe is actively “trying to apply pressure” to curb their abortion street ministry. A few weeks ago, Durbin says, the City of Tempe “literally tried to grab” their pro-life slogan signs. “We were able to stop that. I talked to the City of Tempe and they backed off. It was right after that the police department started harassing us.”
You can view the entire altercation in the video below: