Imagine your church congregation buys a once-was, drive-in movie theater (to use as a “meeting place”), only to find, after the sale, that the theater’s old projection room houses 100 or so canisters of pornography from the 1970s and 1980s.
To some that would be a sweet dream. To others, more like a nightmare. To the “Members of Christ Church Anglican in Jacksonville, Fla., [who] gathered Sunday for an unusual religious ceremony that involved torching X-rated old movies in a fire pit,” it probably seemed more ghoulish than sugar plum. Read the NPR report here. Here’s a video news story from CNN.
I’ve tagged the story as “amusing,” but on any level, it’s also disturbing. As the church’s senior pastor told NPR, “Obviously, we knew the right thing to do would be to destroy it, and not let it ever be out on the market, so to speak.” When I first heard about this story, I wondered if it involved the University Drive-In Theatre, managed long ago by Mr. Richard Erznoznik. In early 1972, he was charged with violating § 330.313 of Jacksonville’s municipal code for exhibiting a motion picture, visible from public streets, in which “female buttocks and bare breasts were shown.” Mr. Erznoznik thought that this city law violated his First Amendment rights. So he challenged it. And won. See Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 295 (1975).
The members of this church are exercising their right to publicly express their sense of morality, e.g., by burning a pile of movie reels.
They can thank people like Mr. Richard Erznoznik for helping guard that right.