Mall of America security guards recently ordered a man to remove a shirt with the message “JESUS Is The Only Way,” leading to a sharp response from Christians around the nation.
On Jan. 7, the guards stopped a man inside the open area of the property. They told him his shirt had offended other shoppers. The mall, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, is the largest in the country.
The bright yellow shirt had the message “Jesus saves” printed on the front and “Jesus is the only way” on the back. The shirt also depicted the “Coexist” motif that bears symbols of various world religions with a hash mark across the familiar image.
Video of the incident shows one of the private security guards telling the man: “Jesus is associated with religion and it’s offending people.”
The man appears to attempt to discuss the complaints with the guards. He explained he was only wearing a shirt and did not speak to any other customer in any way. The man said that he had been kicked out of the mall once before for “preaching the gospel.”
The guard who spoke directly with the man told him that wearing the shirt amounted to prohibited “soliciting” whether he was actively preaching or not. He said, “Again, sir, it is religious soliciting. There is no soliciting allowed on mall property, which is private property.”
The guard told the man he was giving him “a couple of options.” He said the man could either remove the shirt and go ahead with his shopping or he could leave the mall.
However, after the discussion with the guards, the man was allowed to continue wearing the shirt while shopping in the mall.
A mall spokesperson told reporters after the incident that the same man had been “issued a 24-hour trespass for soliciting guests” a week earlier.
The Mall of America website says the property disallows “apparel that has obscene language, obscene gestures or racial/religious/ethnic slurs that are likely to create a disturbance.”
One Twitter user wrote: “There is no way this should happen in USA. He has a free speech right to wear that shirt, and a freedom of religion right to practice his faith in public places. More people should wear Christian shirts to that mall.”
A Christian pastor wrote on Twitter that the man “should sue them into oblivion.”