Charges Dropped Against Outspoken Christian Man Arrested At Pride March
A man who was arrested for reciting Bible verses near an LGBTQ Pride march in Reading, Pennsylvania will no longer face legal consequences for his actions even though he was initially set to appear in court on June 16.
Charges against Damon Atkins, who was taken into custody on June 6, have been withdrawn after the Berks County District Attorney’s Office reviewed video footage of the incident, along with relevant case law, and decided his actions did not warrant charges of “disorderly conduct, engaged in fighting.”
A Christian man in Pennsylvania has been arrested for reading the Bible.
Damon Atkins was reading a verse from 1 Corinthians 14:33 – during a Pride event in Reading, Pennsylvania but was arrested before he could finish the verse. pic.twitter.com/Pu7kwLe1k7
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) June 6, 2023
A video recording of the incident captures Atkins engaging in an argument with Police Sergeant Bradley McClure over his right to express his views across the street from the city’s Pride celebration. He was reciting Bible verses to attendees of the pride event when McClure stepped in and asked him to “let them have their day.”
However, Atkins reminded the officer that he is standing on public property. He held a sign that read, “Jesus said go and sin no more,” while reiterating his respect for the attendees, which included children and drag queens.
As the conversation continued swiftly, Atkins mentioned that the people cheering for them were the ones in hell, drawing on a parable from the Bible. Despite this statement, he later clarified in an interview that he did not harbor any hatred towards anyone, but rather, followed the teachings of Jesus to love his neighbor.
McClure momentarily walked away during the interaction but turned back to handcuff Atkins, as he says, “That’s it, you’re done.”
As he was escorted from the scene, Atkins attempted to cite a specific Bible verse, thought to be 1 Corinthians 14:33, but was cut off by the officer as he said, “God is not the author of…”
The full version of the verse he was referencing states, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
As Atkins was carted away, attendees at the Pride event can be heard cheering.
Since news of the arrest emerged, some Americans have expressed concerns about what they see as an infringement on freedom of speech.
Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach expressed concerns about the arrest, suggesting that it may expose the city of Reading and its police department to legal action as it may have been unlawful.
In a subsequent interview with CBN News, Atkins clarified that his comment about people cheering from hell was based on a parable that Jesus tells in Luke 16:19-31, involving a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. “I love my neighbor as Lord Jesus has taught me to love myself. That’s why I was there,” he stated.
He went on to express gratitude for the “outpour of love and support” he has received and expressed his anticipation regarding the outcome of the incident.