DUBLIN, Ga. — The owners of a mall in Georgia have released a statement saying that they have no problem with peaceful prayer at their mall after a security guard at the mall reportedly ordered a women’s power walk group to stop praying.
Dublin Girls Run has been meeting at Dublin Mall each week since November of last year for a power walk, and opens each meeting in prayer. But the women state that last month, their weekly prayer was interrupted by a security guard who advised that they needed to discontinue the practice.
“The security guard came running toward us and said, ‘You are not allowed to pray at the mall. That’s against the policy,’” group leader Tammy Brantley told Fox News reporter Todd Starnes.
“I told him we’ve been praying since last November and no one said anything about it,” she said. “We’ve never had any problems.”
The guard advised that the mall had taken issue with another group “proselytizing” shoppers, but the women noted that all they were doing is praying quietly. They asked to speak with the manager, but he made similar statements.
“The mall manager verified that prayer is not allowed at the mall because this is private property,” Brantley explained.
After Brantley posted about the incident on her Facebook page, local media picked up on the story, and others decided to organize a prayer rally outside of the mall. The event will be held at 6 p.m. this evening.
Now, MCK Properties, the owners of Dublin Mall, is speaking out. It states that it takes no issue with prayer at the establishment—as long as it is not “imposed” on shopper.
“The Dublin Mall over the last week has been the subject of conversation throughout the community. Through meeting with some of the various people involved, some of the stories have merit while others have gone off the deep end and due to the sensitive issue have publicly hampered the Dublin Mall,” John Engler, vice president of MCK Properties, wrote in a statement.
“The Mall first and foremost has no issues or objection whatsoever with anyone of any religion denomination privately and quietly praying over there food before they eat or showing devotion towards their religion of choice provided it does not impose itself on others or take away from the overall shopping experience,” he said.
As previously reported, a retired police officer in New Jersey was arrested last November and charged with trespassing after distributing tracts and engaging in one-on-one conversations with mall shoppers about matters of faith.
“The mall security came over and immediately told me to stop what I was doing and to leave the property,” he explained. “They indicated that the mall was private property and [that I couldn’t distribute tracts there].”
But Wells noted that the state courts had declared malls a quasi-public venue, and “with that understanding I went to the mall to talk to people about the Gospel.” When he continued to assert that his activities were not unlawful, he was put in handcuffs and transported to the Eatontown police station for processing.
“I want to emphasize that I was not making any public spectacle: no signs, no loudness, no offensive language. I was simply trying to talk to people,” he stated. “If we’ve gotten to the point in the U.S. that we cannot talk to other people civilly, we’re in trouble.”