Four Christian protesters who demonstrated at a Philadelphia homosexual event face a possible 47 years in prison if convicted of felony charges filed against them, while a prosecutor referred to Scripture verses they read as “fighting words.”
The four are part of 11 demonstrators who went before the Philadelphia Municipal Court in a preliminary hearing this week. Judge William Austin Meehan Tuesday ordered four of the Christians to stand trial on three felony and five misdemeanor charges. If convicted, they could get a maximum of 47 years in prison.
As WorldNetDaily reported, on Oct. 10, the group was “preaching God’s Word” to a crowd of people attending the outdoor Philadelphia “OutFest” event and displaying banners with biblical messages.
After a confrontation with a group called the Pink Angels, described by protesters as “a militant mob of homosexuals,” the 11 Christians were arrested and spent a night in jail.
Eight charges were filed: criminal conspiracy, possession of instruments of crime, reckless endangerment of another person, ethnic intimidation, riot, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and obstructing highways.
None of the Pink Angels was cited or arrested.
A video of the arrest, provided by the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy can be seen here [Windows Media].
“First, symbols of Christianity are removed from the public square; now, Christians are facing 47 years in prison because they preached the gospel in the public square. Stalin would be proud,” Brian Fahling, AFA Center for Law and Policy senior trial attorney, said in a statement.
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia denied emergency relief earlier this week despite video footage Fahling calls “undisputed evidence” that shows the Christians cooperating with police and being harassed by the Pink Angels.
Fahling’s group says the Philadelphia city prosecutor in the case, Charles Ehrlich, attacked the defendants as “hateful” and referred to preaching the Bible as “fighting words,” a characterization, the law group says, with which Judge Meehan agreed.
Charges were dropped against the remaining seven Christians, apparently because they were not seen quoting Scripture on the videotape.
The ethnic intimidation charge stems from Pennsylvania’s “hate crimes” law – to which the newest “victim” category of “sexual orientation” was recently added.