The central Ohio pastor arrested during a protest against a neighboring strip club is demanding an apology from county officials who want both sides to stand down in their long-running dispute.
In a letter to the Coshocton County Legal Department, Pastor Bill Dunfee of the New Beginnings Ministries in Coshocton, Ohio, said his arrest on public property with another church violated his rights and the rights of his congregation, according to the Coschocton Tribune.
“I would encourage you to apologize to all the gentle Christians that you and the Sheriff’s department trampled on … by inhibiting our Constitutional rights and in the process attempting to smear our names and reputations in the community we love and value so much,” he wrote.
Dunfee has waged an eight-year battle to get the Foxhole North strip club closed, including weekly protests by church members.
The strip club has fought back with protests of its own. Its demonstrations have included topless dancers working an unusual Sunday morning shift, strutting their stuff outside the church and drawing the expected camera crews from local television stations.
According to Tribune, Dunfee was arrested on a protesting charge during a Sept. 5 protest, but the charges were dropped after the Coshocton County legal department decided deputies could not prove Dunfee was obstructing a right-of-way in the strip club’s parking lot.
Last week, county officials wrote to Dunfee and the Foxhole owner Thomas George asking them both to stop their protests. According to the Tribune, George agreed to stop if the New Beginnings protests stopped.
In addition to the apology, Dunfee had a few more demands, according to the Tribune.
“[H]e asked for a guarantee from the office that the ‘lost souls from the club would come to Christianity, that all children would be safe from molestation, that no abortions would occur as a result of ‘irresponsible sex,’ that no families or marriages would be negatively affected by the Foxhole and that no women would be at risk for exploitation.
That’s a pretty tall order to ask from Coschocton County, Ohio.
County Legal Director Bob Skelton told the Tribune he was disappointed in the response, and noted he couldn’t comply with Dunfee’s demands even if he wanted to.
“Unless I’m God,” he said.
If he were, things wouldn’t have gotten this far.
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