A young Christian man was arrested over the weekend while reading scripture verses on a loudspeaker outside a Wisconsin Pride event promoted as “family entertainment.”
On Saturday, Marcus Schroeder and several other members of Mercy Seat Christian Church went to preach the gospel to those attending the second annual “Pride in the Park” event in Watertown, Wisconsin, located about halfway between Madison and Milwaukee. The city of Watertown billed the Pride event as “family entertainment,” and at least one witness described seeing a drag queen show performed in front of “little children” who were encouraged to offer dollar bills to lingerie-clad male dancers.
Despite their horror watching the sexualization of children, Schroeder and others reportedly respected the boundaries set up along the perimeter of the event and stood on the public sidewalk just outside it. Schroeder then took a microphone and read aloud from the Bible to protest the Sodom and Gomorrah-like scene in front of him. “All the law is fulfilled in one word: you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Schroeder said, quoting from Galatians. “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.”
After he finished that verse, several police officers approached him, and one officer even grabbed the microphone in his hand and attempted to wrench it away. When the group of Christians then defended their right to speak peacefully on the sidewalk, officers standing behind Schroeder began placing him in handcuffs.
Jason Storms, another member of the Christian group, filmed the incident and accused the arresting officers of “behaving like thugs.” Watch:
🚨BREAKING: Young man arrested for sharing the Bible on a public sidewalk
Blatant violation of the 1st amendment of The Constitution. Every one of those cops should be fired and sued. pic.twitter.com/ef8zBXSf5c
— TONY™️ (@TONYxTWO) August 1, 2023
It appears that Schroeder was later charged with unlawful use of sound amplification and resisting arrest. Reports claim that police had previously warned the peaceful Christians, supposedly 200 in number, that they could protest only in certain designated areas and that some of the Christians, perhaps including Schroeder, had defied those orders.
If police and other city officials hoped the arrests would deter the Christians’ resolve, they were wrong. “It was worth it,” Schroeder unequivocally told the Sentinel. “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.”
Schroeder also added that he and his Christian brethren now have the courage to act with “further boldness.” “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,” he continued, “where more and more people are seeing the severity of what’s going on and being called to more action.”
Schroeder was not the only Christian who ran afoul of law enforcement at the Pride event that day. Storm claimed that three others had been arrested for praying and sharing the gospel inside the event, though they and one other Christian arrestee were later released with warnings. Pride in the Park “was open to the public,” Storm noted, “thus the public’s right to free speech carries with” the Christian protesters.
Nick Proell, one of the four protesters released with a warning, has no regrets about his efforts to protect children. “I’d do it all over again if it gives me an opportunity to share the good news and rescue innocent children being sexualized by their parents,” Proell said. “God will use it for good. We will stand for truth even if we stand alone.”
Some on social media who have watched the viral video of Schroeder’s arrest have called upon the Christian group to sue the city and the officers who arrested them. The move would not be without precedent. Damon Atkins, who was arrested for preaching the gospel at a Pride event in Pennsylvania two months ago, has since sued various officials in the city of Reading for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The current status of that lawsuit is unknown.
Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland and Watertown Police Chief Robert Kaminski did not respond to the Sentinel’s request for comment regarding the Christians’ arrest or about the children exposed to “sexually explicit content” at the Watertown Pride event.
The Watertown Pride event actually drew national attention, but not because peaceful Christians were arrested while exercising their First Amendment rights. A group of supposedly neo-Nazis stormed about the event carrying swastika flags and hurling allegedly homophobic insults.
The Christians from Mercy Seat Church insisted that they have “zero” affiliation with the controversial neo-Nazi group. However, they did attempt to share the good news with members of the group, just as they attempted to reach the Pride event attendees.