A man was arrested this week for attempting to quote the Bible on public property during a “Pride Month” parade. Now just about anything that goes against the progressive “norms” is labeled as “hate speech,” including, apparently, the Good Word.

This particular incident in Pennsylvania marks one of a few that have popped up in our country and across the globe, a disturbing trend where quoting the most popular book in the world can land you in court. The argument that one group’s freedom of speech and assembly is more important than another’s, particularly one that opposes the first’s, leads to a dangerous slippery slope.

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It shouldn’t be lost on any of us that the same group that argues for the protection of a graphic novel that depicts young boys performing fellatio on one another finds the contents of the Bible offensive enough to warrant legal involvement. Let’s look at what happened in the Keystone State and what it could mean for American Christians.

Don’t Say God

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Damon Atkins was on public property outside Reading, Pennsylvania’s City Hall, during the “Pride March and Rally.” He had his own sign which said, “JESUS SAID GO AND SIN NO MORE.”

Clearly, Damon wasn’t there to enjoy the rainbow festivities. Instead, he was there to exercise his right to voice his opinion. He chose his faith as his conduit of communication. A police officer allegedly approached Mr. Atkins to get him to leave the public property, telling him to “let them have their event” and “respect them.” 

It’s important to note that this one man was not impeding the event in any way, nor is it disrespectful to say you disagree with someone else’s opinion.

While being engaged by the police officer Mr. Atkins attempted to quote 1 Corinthians 14:33:

“God is not the author of confusion.”

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However, before he could finish the seven-word Bible verse, Mr. Atkins was in cuffs and taken away.

The event was caught on film, with the arrest happening around the two-minute mark. WATCH:

When asked later why he was at the event in the first place, Mr. Atkins said:

“The main reason I was there was because of love. Because Jesus has taught me to love my neighbor as myself.”

Apparently, the LGBTQ community’s often-used slogan ‘Love is Love’ has some limitations. 

Jesus Christ, A Prolific Hater?

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I’d love to report that the above situation is a one-off in this country, but it’s simply not true. In Oklahoma this year, Pastor Rich Penkoski had a five-year restraining order levied against him for quoting bible verses online. The verses were directed at the executive board president of the Bartlesville chapter of Oklahomans for Equality. 

Mr. Penkoski has secured legal representation with constitutional attorney John Whitehead who describes the current situation:

“I think what we’re saying is that citing a Bible verse could be a crime at a certain point in the United States.”

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Mr. Whitehead goes on to explain this latest assault on free speech:

“The First Amendment is the sole savior of America, and what I’m seeing in America today with all the wokeness and political correctness is that people are afraid to speak.”

The court argued that the Bible verses were threatening and meant to cause “substantial emotional harm.” Mr. Whitehead’s response:

“He quotes what Jesus Christ says, OK? If that’s a crime, then we’re in a bad state in this country.”

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Indeed…and it’s spreading.

Hide Your Faith

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Earlier this year, a Loudoun County, Virginia, parent quoted the Bible during their allotted speaking time at a school board meeting. The quote was in response to parental concerns over the alleged and apparent attempt of the school district to hide sexual assaults in public schools. 

This parent’s use of a Bible verse to express their concern instigated a petition that not just called it “hate speech” to quote the Bible but charged the school board with policing said hate speech. In the same county, a public school teacher was banned from including a Bible verse in their email signature.

It’s important to note that Loudoun County Public School at the time had no written policy that dictated what could and couldn’t be included in an email signature. Teachers reportedly have preferred pronouns, quotes, slogans, and photos in their signature blocks meant to reflect their personal beliefs.

Expression of one’s self and beliefs is celebrated unless those beliefs align with Christianity. Then you are told to tuck those expressions away because they are hateful and harmful.

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This concerted attack on religious freedom, particularly Christianity, has gone global. Across the pond, charges were dropped against a man who had quoted the Bible while engaging with a same-sex couple. 

The criminal charges were hate crimes because, as the law enforcement agency said, he “offended” and “upset” a member of the public. And in Greece, a retired footballer, Vassilis Tsiartas, received a ten-month suspended prison sentence and a 5,000 Euro fine for quoting Genesis on his social media account in opposition to a transgender law allowing minors to receive the controversial surgery.

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Going Backward

Many of our ancestors braved the tumultuous journey across the vast ocean from Europe to the New World in search of freedom. Freedom to worship, freedom to thrive, and freedom to live.

Our Pennsylvania brother Mr. Atkins told The Lancaster Patriot that:

“Now in this country, ‘God’ is a derogatory term.”

The man of faith is correct, but unlike during the days of the Mayflower, there is no place for the persecuted believers to flee. America is the last bastion of hope, just as it was those hundreds of years ago. 

The freedoms written in our Constitution and bestowed upon us by God are our natural rights, our unalienable rights. These freedoms are not meant to make everyone comfortable or meant to make everyone feel all warm and cozy inside.

These freedoms are essential because they encourage critical thinking, they help sharpen a society through struggle and discomfort – and regardless of whether you follow the teachings of Jesus, we should all be willing to fight for Mr. Atkins’ and all the other’s right to express their beliefs.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this verse from Galatians 5:1:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Stand firm, dear reader.

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