Evangelist files speech lawsuit against SDSM&T - KOTA Territory News

Evangelist files speech lawsuit against SDSM&T

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A Black Hawk evangelist has filed a lawsuit against the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. At the heart of it: freedom of religious expression.

An attorney with the Tennessee-based "Center for Religious Expression" filed the 21-page complaint Thursday.  Attorney Nate Kellum says the religious rights of his client Mark Gavin, who is a Christian evangelist, are being violated.

The lawsuit alleges school leaders wanted him to pay a $50 fee to talk about his faith and hand out literature. In addition, Gavin claims his request to speak in an open area, such as the quad, rather than an isolated vendor table, was denied.

"It's the ramification of this mis-classification because once they classify it as solicitation then he's not allowed to speak where he can reach people. He has to go to a table and basically wait on people to come to him as though he's selling credit cars and that's totally unsuitable," Kellum said.

The school issued this statement: "We have notified our legal counsel and are reviewing the complaint. Because this is a pending legal matter, the university has no further comment."

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