BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Officials at a shopping mall in California have agreed to allow a grandmother to offer gospel tracts to shoppers after initially prohibiting her from “soliciting” without first obtaining a costly permit.
Attorneys with the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) had filed suit against the Valley Plaza Mall in Bakersfield in May after attempts to first resolve the matter via written correspondence were unsuccessful.
According to the organization, in August 2018, Debra Moore was socializing with shoppers at the mall and offering tracts with Scripture and information about her church when she was approached by a security guard.
“As a central tenet of her faith, Moore believes she is commanded by God to share the grace and truth she has found in the Scriptures whenever possible with willing listeners and not to keep it to her herself,” the legal complaint reads.
After the security guard advised that she could not “solicit” at the mall, a Group Business Development representative also led her to an office where she was provided with a “specialty leasing retailer” application. The document requested information such as the name of the business, its federal tax identification number, its revenue and store locations.
The application also came with a fee of $250 per day.
“As was readily ascertainable to the mall at the time, Moore is not a retailer or vendor within ordinary usage of those terms,” the legal challenge noted. “Moore is a senior citizen with limited resources and mobility.
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