Rodney Shelby, who is the Assistant Pastor at Radcliff Church of God, says he has been preaching on the street for more than a decade. On June 5, he decided to travel to Brandenburg and set up near the intersection by McDonald’s and Walgreens, bringing with him signs saying things like “Heaven or Hell, It’s Your Choice” and a megaphone. Shelby says something happened that had never happened to him before: he was asked by law enforcement to leave.
In a video recorded by Shelby and posted to his YouTube Channel, “Heaven or Hell it’s Your Choice,” Brandenburg Police Chief Brian Haag can be seen approaching Shelby and informing him that he needed a permit to be in the area, and that if he did not leave, he would be arrested.
“You can find somewhere else to go, but if you continue to stay here, then we’re going to arrest you for criminal trespassing,” Haag says in the video.
County Attorney Jessica Brown Roberts, who spoke with Shelby after the incident, said that he was in the state highway road right of way.
“You cannot encroach on the state right of way without a permit from the Kentucky Department of Transportation,” she said.
However, according to Roberts, the state does not issue permits under these circumstances due to the danger to passing motorists, though they do issue permits for other encroachments, such as driveway entrances and parade permits when the roadway is closed.
“Mr. Shelby was standing 2-3 feet off the most dangerous intersection in the city with a megaphone distracting passing motorists,” Roberts explained. “This is not a safe situation. … I feel certain that Mr. Shelby would not want to be responsible for causing an accident. I applaud his cooperation in peacefully moving from the highway right of way. As anyone who has been through that intersection knows, it doesn’t take much to cause an accident there.”
Roberts says that she told Shelby the problem was not what he was saying, but where he was saying it.
Shelby said that he does not believe he was doing anything that would have contributed to an accident, but he also said that he was not intending to make trouble.
“I don’t mind backing up if they will leave me alone,” he said.
He says that his only objective was to “spread the word of God” and that he has never caused trouble in any of the other areas he’s preached outdoors.
Shelby plans to return to Brandenburg to preach again, and he says he will do it wherever law enforcement tells him it’s permitted, though he wants to remain near the same area.