Q: How should we respond to a demonstration at our ministry location?

A: As soon as you know that a demonstration is planned for your location, contact local law enforcement for assistance.

With enough advance notice, police can contact demonstration leaders beforehand to establish ground rules for the event. For example, they can require protesters to stay off church property or to demonstrate in a place where they won’t interfere with people or traffic.

Demonstrations are designed to get attention. Deny protesters this attention and you minimize their effectiveness. 

Let law enforcement officers handle direct contact with demonstrators. Laws in every state allow officers to arrest demonstrators for even the slightest assault on the officer, effectively removing these potentially dangerous individuals from the demonstration.

The same protections don’t apply to your church staff and volunteers. Ask church members, attendees, and guests to ignore demonstrators. Demonstrations are designed to get attention. Deny protesters this attention and you minimize their effectiveness.

So long as demonstrators stay within the bounds of First Amendment protection, it is important for your workers and members to respect the demonstrators’ right to express their point of view. Train ministry workers to focus on their duties and ignore protesters.

Recommended Resources

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*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide Legal Assist as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through Legal Assist are intended to provide general legal information to our current and prospective policyholders.

The information we provide is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. Accordingly, no attorney/client relationship is created through this process, and no legal advice will be provided. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.