Everyone can rest easily — Arizona police have arrested the “Dark Lord” for burning a Bible outside of a mission in Prescott, Arizona.
The Prescott Police Department were summoned to the Gospel Rescue Mission when someone reported that “a man was burning something on the front step of the mission.”
When the police responded, they found 22-year-old Eric Minerault, still standing on the mission’s steps, near a Bible that appeared to be both wet and burnt. Minerault was dressed in a long black and red robe, open to expose his pentagram necklace.
Minerault quickly admitted to both urinating and burning the Bible. When the police asked why, he explained that he was “cursing the Christians” and that he had chosen the mission because he believed it to be a place of worship. It was at this time that Minerault also admitted to the officers that he was, in fact, the Dark Lord…. just in case the police may have thought they were just dealing with a regular, run-of-the-mill 22-year old Satan worshiper who likes to burn bibles in his spare time.
According to Prescott Police spokesman Lieutenant Ken Morley’s written statement regarding the incident, Eric Minerault was “booked into the Yavapai County Detention Center late on Thursday on suspicion of one count of unlawful symbol burning stemming from the incident at the Gospel Rescue Mission.” As of yesterday, he still remained in detention.
The fact that the Dark Lord was arrested for burning a Bible does raise some interesting questions about freedom of speech, however.
Dan Pochoda, who is the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, has already spoken up, saying that Minerault’s arrest and detention do, in fact, raise questions as to whether or not Minerault’s First Amendment freedom of speech rights were violated. But even Pochoda admitted that courts have upheld laws that bar certain symbols, such as crosses, from being burned.
Arizona criminal law seems pretty clear on this point, stating, “It is unlawful for a person to burn or cause to be burned any symbol not addressed by section 13-1707 on the property of another person without that person’s permission or on a highway or any other public place with the intent to intimidate any person or group of persons. The intent to intimidate may not be inferred solely from the act of burning the symbol, but shall be proven by independent evidence.”
In Arizona, burning a Bible is a class 1 misdemeanor.
What do you think? Should Bible burning be a crime, or does that infringe upon a person’s First Amendment freedom of speech rights?
[Images via David M. Schell and AZ Central]