Atkins, who was standing on the outskirts of the Pride event, was reading from 1 Corinthians 14:33, a verse that speaks of peace, when law enforcement intervened and arrested him. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints,” the verse reads.
In under a minute of standing on the sidewalk, Atkins found himself in handcuffs.
According to a court document obtained by The Lancaster Patriot, Atkins was charged with “Disorderly Conduct Engage in Fighting.” The criminal complaint, provided by the Reading Police Department to The Lancaster Patriot, clarifies that the violation of the Disorderly Conduct statute involves intentionally causing significant public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof.
It states that Atkins, despite being warned by the police moments earlier, shouted derogatory remarks at an organization holding a permitted event, exhibiting behavior that was threatening, violent, and tumultuous.
“The main reason I was there,” he told the Lancaster Patriot, “was because of love. Because Jesus has taught me to love my neighbor as myself.” Earlier in the week, he had attended another pride event, where a man approached him and menacingly remarked, “If I had a gun, I would shoot you in the head.”
Atkins believed that the message of repentance is often perceived as hateful simply because it does not condone the sinful behavior that is being celebrated by the culture. “What is love? Is it when your pastor tells you that you can be a homosexual and still enter the kingdom of God?” he questioned. “That’s not love.”
When The Lancaster Patriot interviewed Atkins, he clarified that he had been cited for making “derogatory” comments, even though he was merely quoting passages from the Bible. “In this country, ‘God’ is now considered a derogatory term,” Atkins lamented, expressing his disgust. “It sickens me.”
Atkins is scheduled to appear in court on June 16 and is hopeful that Alliance Defending Freedom will provide legal representation for him. Despite feeling discouraged by the pride celebrations in Reading and the conduct of the police officer, Atkins remains resolute in his mission to caution people about the perils of sin. “In the end,” Atkins reassured, “all of this will be sorted out.”