ACLJ Scores Win for Pastor Threatened With Arrest by U.S. Secret Service for Praying Outside Chinese Embassy


Jordan Sekulow

June 20, 2023

4 min read

Religious Liberty



The ACLJ just scored a victory for free speech and reminded the Biden Administration that its job is to serve the American people and uphold the Constitution – not to capitulate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Remember when we told you how an American minister was nearly arrested by the Biden Secret Service for peacefully praying and protesting outside the Chinese Embassy? Reverend Pat Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, estimates he’s held some 300 demonstrations outside the Communist nation’s embassy to protest its human rights abuses, each without incident. But when he arrived to protest in February, he was met by Secret Service agents who informed him that he could not protest there and if he did, he would be arrested. When he inquired why, Rev. Mahoney was told that Chinese officials had told the Secret Service that the sidewalk outside the embassy was Chinese property. And the Biden agents went along with it.

That’s when Rev. Mahoney called the ACLJ. We were disgusted that Biden’s Secret Service was not only threatening to arrest an innocent U.S. citizen for exercising his constitutional rights to free speech and the right to peacefully protest, but it was seemingly also willing to accept the word of foreign nationals from an adversarial nation over the Constitution.

Who does the Biden Administration get its orders from – the President or the CCP?

The Chinese officials’ assertion was absurd, and the Secret Service should have immediately disregarded it. Our sidewalks are considered public forums, open to free speech activities under the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, and Rev. Mahoney was well within his constitutional rights as an American to pray and protest.

As we reported, we immediately drafted an urgent legal demand letter that we delivered directly to the Secret Service, explaining that their agents were completely incorrect in their assertions about the property, as well as their threat to arrest Rev. Mahoney. Regardless of whose embassy is nearby, the sidewalk is American property governed by the U.S. Constitution, not the CCP.

As our letter stated: “[T]he incident has created a concern that agents of the U.S. Secret Service are unaware of Rev. Mahoney’s clearly established constitutional rights and another similar incident will likely occur.”

We are pleased to report that Rev. Mahoney has returned to the Chinese Embassy to protest after we sent our letter. Not only was he not arrested, but also he did not even encounter a single Secret Service agent. It seems the agency now realizes the Chinese government doesn’t dictate our free speech zones.

As Rev. Mahoney stated on our Sekulow broadcast:

If you wonder, does the ACLJ respond? When I was threatened with arrest, I called . . . right away. On June 4th, we had a demonstration. It was the 34th memorial of the Tiananmen Square massacre. We were joining people around the world and our Hong Kong friends, and we were doing something dramatic – peaceful, but dramatic. We had red fabric, and we were laying it in front of the Chinese Embassy, on the public sidewalk, to remind the world and the Chinese government officials of the violence and bloodshed against peaceful student demonstrators in 1989. I called the ACLJ up beforehand. I thought there would be some problems. I had concerns. I get there . . . [and] there’s no Secret Service there. None. Zero. Obviously, your letter worked. That space is now a public sidewalk. The First Amendment is being honored in front of the Chinese Embassy.

The Biden Administration may cower and capitulate to the Chinese Communist Party, but the ACLJ never will – especially when it starts to dictate what Americans can do and say on our own soil.