FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Saturday night worship service is causing controversy in Franklin after an amended ordinance that bans downtown gatherings after 5 p.m. on weekends.
Mayor Ken Moore said the city’s original Public Gathering and Expression Event Ordinance was created after studying riot activity in Charlottesville.
“We thought that it was important to establish a public expression event ordinance to make sure that we protected people that were protesting, people that might be protesting against the protesters, or just even people that are walking the streets,” Moore said.
Some feel an amendment made to that ordinance over the summer limits free speech by banning these gatherings downtown on weekend nights.
Jeff Daniels, who has held Saturday night worship events on the Public Square for the last two years, has continued to violate the amendment each week. According to the amendment, the gathering would be considered a misdemeanor offense.
“Lord, bring your remnant to the square because people need to see who you are,” Daniels said during the most recent worship evening. “God wants us to unify and be together in prayer and worship.”
Moore said his office has received complaints about Daniels’ gatherings and that City is concerned about the volume generated from these events, not the content.
“We have things like Franklin on Foot, which are tours of the historic area of the city. They’ve had complaints. We have citizens that walk and stay downtown, and they’ve complained, so yes, there have been complaints,” Moore said.
The city has told Daniels he’s welcome to apply for a permit and worship in other areas of Franklin, such as city parks. Moore said he was also willing to sit down and discuss the ordinance with Daniels.
“If he wants to have a small group and come pray, we welcome him to offer prayers, we just don’t need the amplification,” Moore said.
News 2 asked Daniels if he would be willing to sit down with the mayor. He said he wanted to check with his attorney first.