I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on my blog yet, but I bought a motorcycle. It’s silver and black, and needs some work. That’s just background, however. I went to Slidell to purchase some parts for my bike not too long ago – just prior to Christmas. Afterwards, since we hadn’t yet finished our Christmas shopping, we decided to go by North Shore Square Mall, also in Slidell, to finish our shopping up. On our way in, we encountered a man up on a step stool, asking questions, and offering a dollar for a correct answer. This approach is directly out of Ray Comfort’s “Way of the Master”, and I recognized it almost immediately, and wanted to watch, so we stopped there for a bit.

He finished the last 1 dollar question, and progressed to the 20 dollar question, which uses the Ten Commandments, and demonstrates that everyone is a sinner, and needs God to overcome their sin. The speaker was really very good, and did this very well. His name was Mike.

While he was beginning this final portion, I overheard a janitor, who I had been watching, say into his radio that there was a “disturbance” outside the mall entrance. Now, I had been watching him for a few minutes, and he didn’t have anyone complain to him that I saw, and the group watching was not disturbed. There were a couple people who disagreed, but all they had to do was leave. They stayed right there to listen, regardless.

One in particular, a young man, we overheard saying “this guy is preaching, let’s leave”. Right after that, though, a security guard walked out, and said that “noone is allowed to have a forum on the premises”, and that he would have to stop, or do his presentation on an individual basis only. Well, I jumped in at that point, and asked if it was mall policy to discourage public speech. The security guard told us he was a churchgoer, but that this was, indeed, mall policy. Several others voiced dissent at this point – including the young man who had just said he was leaving. he said, I believe, “this is America – he can say whatever he wants to”. The security guard’s reply was simply that this was private property, and this was the mall’s policy, and reiterated that they were free to continue on an individual basis.

So, while I continued to talk to the guard, the evangelist asked whoever was willing to continue the discussion on an individual basis to follow him. A group of 13-15 people followed. Silently rejoicing, I kept talking to the security guard, and asked where I could file a complaint, and told him that I would no longer be shopping at the mall due to this policy. He told me where to go, and was really very nice. I went to the customer service kiosk, was responded to with courtesy (if a bit of frost, due to my reason for visiting), filled out my complaint form, saying i was no longer intending to shop there, due to their policy, explaining what I had seen the janitor do, and left.

It was a bit odd, and I made a snap decision, but I don’t think I could have done anything in good conscience. As a visitor to a shopping complex, the only means you have to show your displeasure are complaint forms and refusing to buy from them, in my estimation. So, that’s what we did. In fact, though, it turned out nicely. I went to the outlet mall, closer to home, spent less than I would have otherwise to finish my Christmas shopping, and had a good time.

The point wasn’t the shopping, or my displeasure, though, really. To be honest, I was trying to focus the attention on me to give the evangelist less distraction. The other was just the means to do so. The security guard escorted me to the kiosk, and stayed there after I left, and the evangelist was still talking with his group of people – they were all smiling as he explained what he had to say. I hope God was able to use him, and that He may have used me in a small way.

I do intend to keep my promise to cease shopping at North Shore Square Mall, in Slidell, however. I dislike that policy, and won’t support a business (or group of businesses) which espouses it. So, that’s the story. I told my wife I would post it, and I told the mall I would, too.

So, there you go. I’m no longer shopping there.