Man asked to stop spreading religious message in Kansas Walmart

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PAOLA, Kan. -- Some people in the Osawatomie and Paola communities are outraged. They say a sweet, religious man is having his freedom of speech rights violated.

They say just last week he was scolded in a Walmart store for spreading a religious message.

Bruce Ozias worked at the Paola Walmart years ago. Just last week he came back as a customer and was told he was making other customers uncomfortable for a message he shares everywhere he goes.

"I have some good news for you! It's on the back of my t-shirt," said Bruce, who has no shame when it comes to letting people know Jesus loves them.

"Because, he does!" added Bruce.

Many people in the small town of Osawatomie know Bruce and his wife Irene, and their passion for their Christian faith.

"Every kid on the football team and basketball team knows Bruce, and they will often walk down the street and see him and say, 'hello Mr. Ozias, Jesus loves you!'" Irene explained.

Bruce worked at the Paola Walmart, and was let go almost eight years ago. But last week, he and Irene went as customers, and as usual, Bruce shared his message. That's when a manager approached them.

"She said, 'I believe the Bible, I believe in Jesus, but Bruce you just can't do that in here,'" Irene added. "And some of the customers didn't like that, and I'm sure that's true!"

Walmart says Bruce's termination had nothing to do with his message about Jesus, but the company won't discuss personnel matters. Bruce says he feels God placed it on his heart to share Jesus, and he typically gets positive responses.

"It's their business, if they don't want people to do certain things, they have a right to do that," Bruce said.

"But as a customer, you know, we're customers too, why can't we share?" Irene asked.

FOX 4's Melissa Stern was told by other local business owners that they too are uncomfortable with him spreading his religious message in their businesses.

Walmart provided the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"Mr. Ozias was terminated 8 years ago. His termination had nothing to do with anything he said or any religious affiliation he has. To suggest otherwise would be completely inaccurate. We always want our customers to be comfortable in our store -- he was approached by an associate after receiving several customer complaints about his behavior."