CV NEWS FEED // Pennsylvania man Damon Atkins was arrested Saturday for quoting the Bible at a ‘Pride’ celebration. He got three words in before he was put in handcuffs.
Fellow protester Matthew Wear filmed the incident outside of Reading Courthouse in Reading, Pennsylvania. Wear came upon the event by chance and started preaching until an officer threatened to arrest him. “But the Gospel went out,” Wear said in his video. “By the grace of God I could preach for about 10 minutes.”
The video shows Atkins arrive at the event with a sign saying “Jesus said go and sin no more” and wearing a white T-shirt bearing the phrase “You must be born again.”
Upon Atkins’ arrival, police Sergeant Bradley T. McClure approached him.
“Let them have their day,” McClure said on video.
“This is public property,” Atkins replied. As the encounter escalated, Atkins stood his ground.
“You know who’s cheering for this? The people that are in hell,” Atkins said. “So you do you, and I’m gonna do me.”
Atkins later said that he was referencing the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke’s Gospel, where a rich man in hell asks Abraham to warn his brothers about the suffering and torture of damnation.
McClure walked away briefly, but when Atkins began again, McClure returned with handcuffs.
“God is not —” Atkins began, but was promptly arrested before he was able to finish. Atkins said later that he intended to quote 1 Corinthians 14:33: “…God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”
The crowd at the pride event clapped and cheered as Atkins was taken away.
“The main reason I was there was because of love,” Atkins said. “Because Jesus has taught me to love my neighbor as myself.”
Enrique Castro, the executive director of Reading Pride, responded to the arrest on stage while it was unfolding.
“God bless you, Allah bless you… and bring some love into the heart of yours,” Castro said.
Atkins explained that in his experience, people see a call to repentance as hateful because it does not promote the immoral conduct which society praises.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) on Tuesday, Atkins said he had told the officer “I’m not being rude, I’m just here to spread the Gospel of good news! Jesus Christ saved me and he can save everyone, including you.”
McClure told him to “be quiet.”
McClure charged Atkins with violating the Disorderly Conduct statute. The officer wrote in a statement:
I immediately approached him and told him that, while he was free to stand on that side of the street and hold his sign … He could not cross the street nor yell comments intended to disrupt the event.
“Less than a minute later, he resumed yelling derogatory comments to the people at the event,” McClure wrote. “Because I had already given him warning, I immediately told him he was being arrested for disorderly conduct.”
Atkins’ court date is June 16.