REGINA - Staff with the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District tried to chase away a group of evangelical ministers this week by drowning them out with a boom box in what appears to have been a free-speech faceoff.
Mike Stockwell of Cross Country Evangelism, which is on a three-month tour across Canada, says he was trying to preach the gospel on Tuesday when the boom box came out and the music came on.
Judith Veresuk, executive director of the business group, admits it was staff members who did that because they felt the preachers were disturbing the peace and scaring away potential customers.
She says the business community is supportive of free speech but says there have been previous complaints from businesses on the Scarth Street mall about this particular group.
Stockwell says it is an issue of free speech, insisting the group has the right to do what they did where they did it.
He says the goal of Cross Country Evangelism is to spread a message of hope, adding they do not usually bring up the topic of condemning homosexuals but admitting it did surface on Tuesday when someone in the crowd asked about it.
Robert Johnsen, who was standing in line to get a hot dog, was one of several people who said it was nice to hear the gospel being preached in public.
"Hearing something good and positive that God loves them is important," he said.
Mall patron Stephen Mcnamee, however, said he objected to the preachers shouting their message, admitting he had a hostile exchange with them.
"I'm all for openness and acceptance, but good Lord, there's got to be a limit," he said.