Judge tosses charges against pastor blocked from praying in library hosting Drag Queen event
SPOKANE, Washington, December 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A judge has dismissed charges against a Christian pastor in Washington who was arrested after trying to enter a public library in which a Drag Queen Story Hour event was taking place, though local prosecutors plan to try again against Afshin Yaghtin.
Yaghtin, who preaches at Spokane’s New Covenant Church, attempted to enter South Hill Public Library on June 15 to pray for the children attending a Drag Queen Story Hour event that day. 500 Mom Strong founder Anna Bohach witnessed police intercept and arrest him.
The Washington Times reported that Yaghtin was specifically arrested for refusing to move to a designated protest zone, which he objected was farther away from the library than where pro-LGBT protesters were allowed to gather.
“He did not carry signs or preach, and he did not consider himself a protestor,” said the Pacific Justice Institute, which defended the pastor. “The police nevertheless ordered Yaghtin to leave the premises — otherwise open to the public — and go across the street with everyone else who the police deemed not to be supportive of the event. Yaghtin asserted his First Amendment rights and the police responded by arresting him.”
Spokane Municipal Court Judge Tracy Staab dismissed the charges against Yaghtin on December 2, noting that the “scope of the protest zones was expanded to include anyone attending the event who had an opinion about the event, regardless of whether they were protesting or creating a disturbance,” and that “because the arrest for obstructing cannot be separated from Mr. Yaghtin’s speech, the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to support the charge of obstructing.”
“The prosecution refused to acknowledge law enforcement’s overreach by separating and even barring people from entry into the library based on their views,” said attorney Jorge Ramos. “We are thankful justice prevailed and Pastor Yaghtin can continue to shepherd his community with confidence.”
However, Ramos added that the Spokane Prosecuting Attorney’s office intends to seek a reconsideration of Staab’s ruling.
Drag Queen Story Hour events, in which adult crossdressers read storybooks to children, are intensely controversial around the country. By organizers’ own admission, one of the central purposes is to indoctrinate children about “intersectionality” and “learn(ing) to see beyond the pink and blue gender binary.”
Beyond the activist subject matter, past DQSH events have been controversial for instances of drag queens teaching kids to twerk and soliciting their email addresses, having children lay on them, and appearing to flash children. Some events have also come under fire for featuring drag queens who are X-rated performers in their “normal” careers, for attracting radical transgender protesters, and even putting convicted pedophiles and prostitutes in close proximity to children.
“There’s an old saying, 'If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’ But what if you didn’t commit a crime?” Bohach asked. “Or even worse, the crime was committed against you and your constitutional rights were violated — yet you’re the party being pursued to do the time? And the only so-called crime you’ve committed is being a Christian and speaking and acting like one?”