“They're not tolerant of Christians living a public life downtown,” Olive says of the city's government, adding, “There are certain people [government officials] who have personal agendas where Jesus would stand in the way of their agenda.”
Olive's tussle with the City of Lake Worth began when officials told him he needed a special permit to hold church services in his downtown coffee shop. The nature of the permit is up for debate: The city says it's concerned about fire safety and there is no fee to pray. Olive says the city is singling him out because he's a Christian doing Christian things – and he's received a lot of press for saying so, including an op-ed in Fox News, articles on right-wing sites like WND.com, and an interview with conservative Christian radio host Colin Gunn, among others.
Whatever the case, Olive is adamant about his belief that Christians in Lake Worth are being singled out and persecuted. After all, he says, if he needs to have a safety permit when people gather at his coffee shop to worship, why aren't other groups in the neighborhood required to have a permit when they gather?
“All these restaurants, they have meetings,” Olive says. “There are neighborhood watch meetings; there are Kiwanis meetings. We're not doing anything different. We're the only ones that were targeted this way.”
And when asked if he believes the city had a genuine concern about building and fire safety for large gatherings in a coffee shop, Olive said: “As a minister of the gospel, there's no one more concerned about fire safety than I am – in this life and in the next life.”
Olive also says that whether the issue at hand was about earthly fire safety or a bias against the Bible, the city could have been nicer about it instead of sending undercover city workers to check out what was going on.
“That's indicative of the history of the city,” he explains. “They've been the bully in the park for too long, and the kids in the park are gonna rise up.”
Meanwhile, Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo says that it was “all a misunderstanding” and that the issue was only meant to be about applying for an additional-use permit.
Olive says that he is in the process of getting all the permits in order and that everything looks OK for the future of his church's services.
“I'm not mad at the city. We want to do good here, and I believe there are people in the city who want to do good,” he says.
Bu Olive adds that his battle with the Lake Worth government over his coffee-shop church services is simply part of something bigger.
“There has always been a battle against Jesus Christ, and I think man is still pissed off that they didn't kill him and couldn't keep him in the grave,” Olive says.
We posted the documents Olive received from the city below: