'Arrested - Simply for Reading the Bible': Police Detain 4 Young Christians at Drag Queen Event
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Four young Christians were arrested Saturday in Watertown, Wisconsin while they were preaching the gospel at a public drag queen show focusing on children.
Organizers of the city's annual event known as "Pride in the Park" had advertised the show being held in a public park as "family-friendly."
A video of the arrest of one young man, Marcus Schroeder, was posted and shared on various social media platforms. The one-minute and 29-second video clip shows several police officers approaching Schroeder as he is standing on a public sidewalk outside the event reading the Bible over a loudspeaker. One of the officers, who has sergeant stripes on his sleeves, suddenly grabs the microphone away from him. As he questions what they are doing, the officers inform Schroeder he is being arrested for violating a sound ordinance about noise amplification.
Then the video shows three officers grabbing the young man and leading him away in handcuffs. Another young man, Nick Proell, was detained and removed from the park but was later released with a warning, according to The Republic Sentinel.
BREAKING: Young man arrested for sharing the Bible on a public sidewalk— TONY (@TONYxTWO) August 1, 2023
Blatant violation of the 1st amendment of The Constitution. Every one of those cops should be fired and sued. pic.twitter.com/ef8zBXSf5c
Jason Storms, who took the video and shared it on Twitter, is the minister of evangelism at Mercy Seat Christian Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin. In a post to the church's Facebook page Wednesday, he said his daughter was among the four who were arrested.
"A bunch of people from our church joined with other Christians (about 100 of us in all) to minister to those attending a drag queen show for children in Watertown, Wisconsin," Storms said. "Rather than arrest those sexualizing children - the police arrested four Christians exercising their First Amendment rights including my daughter and one of my sons-in-law."
In a statement to The Sentinel on Tuesday, Storms said, "The police, per orders from city leaders, arrested several young people. Three were arrested earlier in the day while inside the park praying and talking to attendees, and then released with warnings."
"It was open to the public, thus the public's right to free speech carries with them. One was arrested later in the day for preaching on the public sidewalk outside the venue and is being charged with unlawful use of sound amplification and resisting arrest," he said.
Storms also claimed several police officers were present at the park to provide security for the drag queen show, in which performers dressed in lingerie were seen "dancing and gyrating in front of little children, who were invited to give them one dollar bills."
According to Wisconsin law, causing a child under the age of 13 to view or listen to sexual activity is a Class F felony.
If the child has not attained the age of 18, it is viewed as a Class H felony.
Schroeder said he had no regrets for his actions and that his arrest was "an honor."
"It was worth it. It's actually an honor to be counted worthy to stand with the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and been arrested for the sake of spreading Christ and his kingdom," he told The Sentinel. "If the police wanted to try and set an example for others or anything like that, the only thing I've seen is actually the exact opposite, where more and more people are seeing the severity of what's going on and being called to more action."
The drag event made headlines around the country due to the presence of Nazi sympathizers at the drag show, who were not affiliated with the Christians who were preaching the gospel, The Sentinel reported. Other groups also were present at the park to protest the event.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers rebuked the Nazis' presence, while also posting a statement defending the drag event.
"LGBTQ Wisconsinites deserve to be treated with dignity, decency, kindness, and respect just like every other Wisconsinite," the statement said. "They deserve to be safe being who they are without fear or threat of shame, harassment, intimidation, or violence."
On Tuesday, Schroeder addressed the city council and residents concerned about the Nazis' appearance at the drag queen event at the park. He took the opportunity to preach the gospel.
"As a Christian, I can say what the Nazis did in Nazi Germany was horrific and they should have been resisted. In fact, the number one people group who resisted the Nazis were Christian," he noted. "The reason why was they had a world view that said people are made in God's image and they have worth and value. That's why Nazism is wrong."
Schroeder told the council and the audience when he showed up at the park on Saturday all he did was read from scripture on the sidewalk from the New Testament's book of Galatians.
"By the way," he noted, "I wasn't reading Romans 1. I wasn't reading any passage that spoke against homosexuality or anything like that. I was reading a passage from the Bible about love. And I was arrested. No reason. Not given any warning. Not told anything about my amplification being turned down. I was arrested and taken into custody simply for reading the Bible on the sidewalk."
"You see as we become more and more tolerant of sexual immorality in our culture, we've become more and more intolerant towards Christian morality," Schroeder said. "And the more we become intolerant of Christian morality, the more we are going to see lawlessness in our streets. The more we become intolerant of Christian morality, the more we're going to see Nazis. The more we're going to see people who don't hold to a Christian world view who think that everybody is the result of animals and therefore if we are animals, then why can't we just act like animals?"
"We were called a hate group. We were told we just didn't want to understand the other side," he continued. "And I just want to set the record straight. I am more than happy to have that conversation with the other side."
Schroeder said he had several hours of discussions with LGBTQ activists.
"I completely understand the other side. I want to understand the other side," he said. "But drag queens twerking on kids in lingerie is totally unacceptable. And that's something we have to notice as a culture."
"We can have our disagreements, but there comes a time when we have to understand that we are all going to stand before God one day," Schroeder noted. "We going to have to give an account of what we have done with the children in our society. The innocent minds and the children who deserve to be protected. Thank you."
Marcus Schroeder, the young man arrested for reading the Bible at a drag queen event in Watertown, Wisconsin, preached the gospel to the city council and residents concerned about the Nazi presence at the event. pic.twitter.com/6DLP2gDa8C— Ben Zeisloft (@BenZeisloft) August 2, 2023
CBN News has reached out to Watertown Police Chief Robert Kaminski and Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland for comment on the charges against Schroeder. We also asked if any of the drag queen performers would be charged for violating state law 948.055 - Causing a child to view or listen to sexual activity. We will post their responses here if we hear back.
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