Paul Johnson, the Tennessee grandfather who was forbidden to read his Bible in the public square without a permit, has received a response from the municipality that banned him.

 

“Thank you for your email/letters to the City of Sweetwater, its mayor, recorder and attorney regarding Paul Johnson’s exercise of his first amendment right to freely express his religious beliefs on public ways in Sweetwater, Tennessee,” wrote City Attorney John Cleveland, Sr., in a letter dated last Friday.

“You may accept this letter as your requested written assurance that the City of Sweetwater, Tennessee, will allow Mr. Johnson to peacefully share his religious beliefs in Sweetwater without requiring him to apply for or obtain any permit pursuant to Ordinance 16-110 of the Municipal Code of the City of Sweetwater, Tennessee,” he continued.

Johnson’s attorneys threatened to pursue legal action if the city did not send him a letter of assurance that his religious liberties would be respected the next time he chose to read from his Bible on the sidewalk. In addition to granting his request, the City of Sweetwater actually encouraged his feedback.

“The City appreciates your bringing to its attention the constitutional infirmities in the ordinance identified in your correspondence. We would appreciate any suggestions you might have regarding potential amendments to or replacement of Ordinance 16-110 that would meet your perceived constitutional requirements.”

City Recorder Jessica Morgan provided this statement to the press:

“As discussed, The City of Sweetwater appreciates the rights of free speech. We have never banned anyone from reading any book in public on a sidewalk.

Liberty Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys responded to the statement, saying it “indicates significant progress toward a positive resolution.”

This story illustrates the effective change which is brought about as the result of all Americans speaking out in defense of free speech.

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Email or writing letters. Which is better?

Writing letters can be very effective especially when you are doing a coordinated mail surge.

While emails may go ignored or be hastily “scrolled through”
letters are tangible, physical signs that can not be ignored.

The debate is still ongoing as to which is the most effective.

While deciding which approach to use, here are some good things to keep in mind:

When doing online petitions, emails can be quite effective. The chance of each email being read are slim. However with an online petition, there is only one email to read. The power of the numbers still speaks, even if only one is actually read.

But what if you are new to the craft of online petitions? Or what if you barely have time to get the word out about a last minute issue, let alone set up a petition?

If time is of the essence and last minute emails must be sent, your campaign can still be successful. Just encourage each of your participants to put an identifying headline on their email. Even if the recipient doesn’t open each email, he or she will still be able to see a rash of urgent requests assailing his inbox when he scans through the headlines.

Start a Mail Surge

When you want to have a bunch of letters arrive at someone’s office at the same time, do a mail surge

What is a mail surge

A mail surge is a coordinated way to make every activists voice heard at once. It is far more effective than having everyone write a trickle of letters whenever they feel like it. Mail surges yield maximum impact to any letter writing campaign
It’s a good idea to review the following, before starting a mail surge.

PHASE ONE

Identify the issue

First, make sure that you have clearly identified the issue. Then, ask yourself:

What do you hope to achieve with this mail surge?

What is the anticipated outcome?

PHASE 2

Strategize

What specific steps can my group take right now, and what would be the best course of action?

Who is the best person to contact?

Tips for churches. If you are a Pastor, you can start a mail surge by providing your congregants with three main things.

a) Presentation. It doesn’t have to be a power point or even a whole sermon on the issue, but it is important to address the congregation about the matter at hand. Detail what the issue is, how it will affect the congregation, and why it is important to act.

b) Give the call to action. Dircetly and clearly ask the members to write letters, and make it easy for them to do it. Ask them to write the letters before they leave the building, and have a box that they can drop them in. You can even supply stamps, or you can have them drop their unstamped letters in a box, and mail them later with  non-profit postage. Don’t forget to put up a donation box by the envelopes to comver the cost of postage and supplies

b) Contact info.  Have the contact information ready for your church to copy down on their mailing envelopes, or ask your assistant to print the addresses on the envelopes ahead of time.

c)Sample letters. Have some sample letters available that you can pass out to your congregation, along with some envelopes. Let them construct their letters right there in the pew. The sample letters provide them with a general guideline of ponts to cover, but encourage them to put it in their own words.

Developing Your Call to Action

What should be my Call to Action? Is a mail surge the best call to action? Or does the issue demand immediate attention–is a bill going to senate floor tomorrow? Make sure that there is time for the letters to reach the proper office before the issue expires

Once you are confident that a mail surge is the best course of action, here are the steps to follow.
Step One:
If your issue is not already listed here, fill out a simple form detailing what the issue is, and how urgent it is. We will review it ASAP and set up a webpage that you can direct your readers to.

Step Two
You can give this link to your readers so that they can find the proper representative in their district to contact.  We can also help you craft some sample letters for your people to use as a reference, as well as providing them with letter writing tips.

Step Three
You can track the progress of your letter writing campaign online  by asking readers to check the box when they have written their elected official (or other person on interest).

If you need help planning your campaign, we are only an email away. Let us equip you with the tools you need and help you chart the best course of action for a successful campaign

Link to: How to Start a campaign