New Orleans has an ordinance on Bourbon Street, an ordinance that is rarely invoked, but lays down that after dark, no one may loiter on Bourbon to spread “any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.” Breaking the offence is a misdemeanor, which carries a $500 fine and a maximum penalty of six months in jail.
City officials stand by the ordinance, since the roughly less than one square mile area of Bourbon Street has 350 bars and other establishments, and received 7 million out of a total 9 million tourists last year. According to authorities, the ordinance is needed to keep people moving in the crowded stretch after dark, and prevent incidents.
Though the ordinance is rarely enforced, eight preachers led by Ruben Israel were booked under the ordinance by the police and a ninth arrested for resisting an officer on September 1, during a gay pride. Ruben Israel, from Los Angeles, is a familiar figure on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras and the gay Southern Decadence festival held over Labor Day. Israel leads a group called Bible Believers that is supposed to have 72 chapters in the U.S.
The forgiving preacher hates sin sincerely and is known to target drunkards, homosexuals, and Mormons. The description of Mardi Gras on his website reads, “really one massive event for peeping toms with the street functioning as nothing more than a big window for perverts.”
Perverts and preachers seem to have a strange connection.
For the last 30 years, wherever within the reach of Ruben Israel ‘sinful’ festivities occur, he is sure to attend. He goes to the Mardi Gras, the Kentucky Derby and anywhere else he feels sinners need to be warned.
Though it is not known whether this is the first arrest of its kind for violating the ordinance on Bourbon Street, possibly it is.
City Councilwoman Kristin Giselson said, “You can literally take one step off of Bourbon Street, and you can do what you do.” But that does not satisfy Israel. He asked AP reporters, “Have you ever been on Bourbon Street? There on Bourbon Street, you have nude pictures trying to entice people ….” And there on Bourbon Street, you would also find Ruben Israel warning against sin and impending doom.