A Pennsylvania man was arrested at a “gay pride” event for reading a Bible verse in public.
In the video posted on Twitter, Christian protestor Damon Atkins can be seen talking to a police officer, telling the officer that he is standing on public property peacefully, across from an event celebrating “gay pride” in Reading, Pennsylvania.
“Let them have their day,” the officer responds. “Respect it.”
“So you do you. And I’m going to do me,” Atkins replies.
Less than 30 seconds later, when Atkins begins reading from the Bible, the officer can be heard saying, “That’s it. You’re done,” as he approaches Atkins with handcuffs.
The officer can be seen in the video being assisted by two other officers in the arrest.
Atkins was attempting to read 1 Corinthians 14:33, reported the Daily Caller.
The King James version of the verse reads, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause by the arresting officer, posted on Twitter, Atkins was arrested for disorderly conduct and attempting to disrupt the “gay pride” event.
In the affidavit, the officer says he warned Atkins not to yell comments across the street to disrupt the event.
“Less than a minute later he resumed yelling derogatory comments to the people at the event,” the officer claims. “Because I had already given him a warning, I immediately told him he was being arrested for disorderly conduct.”
The offense may be pinned down to “heckling” in a manner meant to disrupt a public event, which may or may not be protected speech, under the First Amendment.
“Although the law is not settled, heckling should be protected, unless hecklers are attempting to physically disrupt an event, or unless they are drowning out the other speakers,” said the National Lawyers Guild, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Atkins said that his intention was not to disrupt the event.
“I’m not being rude,” Atkins said he told the officer. “I’m just here to spread the Gospel of good news! Jesus Christ saved me and he can save everyone, including you (the officer).”
Atkins claims that the officer insinuated that “God” was a derogatory term.
At the time of his arrest Atkins was holding a sign that said, “Jesus Said Go And Sin No More.”