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  1. Anyone who regularly takes the el or subway has seen them. They stand quietly smiling with carts of religious publications, out on the sidewalk when it's nice out, and in the "unpaid" area of the station near the Ventra machines or turnstiles when the weather is inclement. The women are dressed modestly but sharply, and the men look natty as well, often wearing sport jackets and fedoras. They are volunteers from the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination that claims 8.4 million members in 240 countries. Though I'm not interested in converting, I sometimes stop and say hello and pick up a copy of The Watchtower or Awake! out of courtesy, since I find their cheerful vibe oddly comforting. They're certainly more agreeable than the Old Navy Street Preacher, who hangs out at Randolph and State railing against fornicators and cigarette smokers. But not everyone appreciates the Jehovah's Witnesses' presence at transit stations. Kevin Havener, an Edgewater resident who often commutes via the Red Line, contacted me to share a message he sent to the transit authority, to which he says he never got a response. He claimed that the Witnesses' practice of offering literature inside el stations violated a guideline in the agency's Rules of Conduct warning against the distribution of written materials on CTA property. "I find this inexplicable permission deeply, personally offensive," Havener's message read. "Would the CTA allow other religious proselytizing [by groups] such as [Orthodox Jews], or Buddhists, or Hare Krishnas? OF COURSE NOT." Havener eventually revealed to me that he has a horse in this race. About a decade ago he and other members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an activist group, wanted to hand out leaflets inside the Fullerton el stop in Lincoln Park. When they asked the CTA customer assistant for permission, they were told they needed to be out on the public sidewalk far away enough not to block any station doors. "That made perfect sense, and that's what we did," he said. Read more: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/is-it-legal-for-jehovahs-witnesses-to-proselytize-inside-cta-stations/Content?oid=47477482

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