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Eleven Christians who were demonstrating at a public homosexual-rights event in Philadelphia have been arrested and charged – they say unjustly.

According to a statement from Life and Liberty Ministries, on Sunday the Christian protesters were “preaching God’s Word” to the crowd of people attending the outdoor Philadelphia OutFest event and displaying banners with biblical messages.

Not long after the group began their activity, members of the Pink Angels, which the statement describes as “a militant mob of homosexuals,” confronted the protesters and attempted to drown out their message with whistles, while hiding the signs with large sheets of pink Styrofoam.

“Even though the Christians obeyed all laws, city ordinances and lawful requests by the Philadelphia police officers on hand,” said Life and Liberty Ministries, “they were promptly and without warning arrested and hauled off to jail, where they spent 21 hours before being released on Monday morning.”

Eight charges were filed against the protesters, including three felonies and five misdemeanors. The charges were: criminal conspiracy, possession of instruments of crime, reckless endangerment of another person, ethnic intimidation, riot, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct, and obstructing highways.

The “ethnic intimidation” charge, explains Robert Knight, writing for Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute, was made possible by Pennsylvania’s Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism Act – that state’s “hate crimes” law – to which the newest “victim” category of “sexual orientation” was recently added.

Although some of the charges reportedly have been dropped since the 11 defendants were released, the Culture and Family Institute report quotes Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Officer Maria Ibrahim as saying the remaining charges are “criminal conspiracy,” “failure to disperse,” “disorderly conduct” and “obstructing a highway.”

Responding to the riot charge, the group’s statement said: “Despite the fact that our behavior was above reproach and we were attacked by a mob of whistle-blowing, obscenity-screaming God haters, the Christians, and only the Christians, were charged.”

Said Dennis Green, director of Life and Liberty Ministries: “The Scriptures are filled with accounts of faithful followers of the Messiah who proclaimed the Gospel despite severe persecution. We are called upon and commanded to do no less. To shrink back would not be biblical Christianity.”

The organization Repent America sponsored the protest.

“This is one of the most remarkable and unlawful actions by police that I have ever witnessed,” said Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America. “Their blatant disregard of the law by allowing hecklers to impede our way, block our message and then arrest us, is inexcusable, especially by police officers who are specially trained to protect civil rights.

“Christians are now being labeled as ‘haters’ and any speech that homosexuals perceive to be intimidating, such as our Christian witness at OutFest, makes them a prime target for ‘hate crimes legislation.’”

Continued Marcavage: “We are clearly ‘not guilty’ of these crimes, and with the help of our video footage, we shall be vindicated of these trumped-up charges.”

The CFI account quotes Brian Fahling of the American Family Association’s Center for Law and Policy, a public interest law firm which is representing the Christian defendants.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to ensure that the Philadelphia Police Department and the city are held accountable for this,” Fahling told CFI. “As far as we can tell, this was utterly uncalled for and has no legal justification.”

The group is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 18 at the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center.

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