As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
Authorities of Lloret de Mar fine local church for talking to tourists and offering evangelistic tracts. Mayor argues the activity breaks local regulations.
Beach Mission is a Dutch organisation which aims to preach the gospel to all the young people who come to Lloret de Mar (in the region of Catalonia, Spain) every summer, from different European countries.
This kind of tourism is very questioned because of the use of alcohol and the extreme parties happening in the town during the months of August and September. For years, there has been a debate among social and political agents about the sustainability of this touristic model.
Last summer, a group of 20 members of Beach Mission came to Lloret de Mar to work alongside the Pedrera Viva Evangelical Church of Blanes, based in a city close to Lloret.
One night, some of the volunteers were in ready to talk with people there and give evangelistic tracts, when the local police addressed them claiming they were doing something illegal.
“They said the Mayor had warned them about our activity, and we were not allowed to do it, because our permission had been denied”, pastor Eduardo Rodriguez explained.
“I told them that we had not asked for a permission since it was not necessary for the kind of activity we were doing. We had just informed the regional and local authorities that we were going to share our faith with others.”
According to Rodriguez, the policemen then made a police report. The following day, when the pastor went to talk with the legal authorities, he was told that their activities were considered public advertising, which is illegal according to the local regulations.
“MORE WORRIED ABOUT US THAN THE DRUNKENNESS OF YOUNG TOURISTS”
Later, in November, the Pedrera Viva Evangelical Church of Blanes was fined with 250€ by the Lloret de Mar Mayor office.
“It is curious that Lloret de Mar is more worried for our evangelism than for the drunkennesses of the young tourists who visit them”, said Jaume Llenas, Secretary General of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Specially if one has in mind that Lloret “is the second town in Catalonia with more population at risk of living under the poverty line.”
ALLEGATIONS AND APPEALS
After receiving the fine, the church looked for the help of the Legal Services of the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (FEREDE in Spanish). The federation wrote an allegation which was rejected last December.
On March, the Lloret de Mar Mayor office urged the church to pay the fine, and FEREDE responded with a new appeal and a letter to the Major. “We basically argued, that what the church did cannot be considered as advertising, but the exercise of their freedom of religion and freedom of speech rights”, FEREDE Legal expert Carolina Bueno explained.
The Mayor office told Protestante Digital that “it is a normal procedure when a local law is broken.”
The resolution of the sanction will take place in the coming weeks.