A drag show planned in Albertville this Friday has drawn national attention as local efforts to stop the event have proven unsuccessful.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights issued a statement last week about the "Holly Jolly Drag Show" event, calling on more churches to join the protest efforts led by the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, Justin Childers, and local former bishop David Kirby.
"Unfortunately, there are many naïve Americans who are unfazed by drag queen shows; others actually like them. Whether it is ignorance or malice, the facts are not open to dispute," Bill Donohue, president of the League, said in the statement. "...The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is urging all Christians in Albertville, and surrounding towns, to join the protests and stand by Pastor Childers. Those who cannot attend should at least email him, showing your support for his effort."
Childers told 1819 News that he's received an "overwhelming amount of responses and encouragement" from the local community and other pastors supporting the protest. He said he's also received a lot of positive feedback from people nationwide.
"I have received emails from almost every state in the Union as well as from other countries and territories. I've been contacted by several media outlets as well," Childers said. "Out of hundreds and hundreds of emails, I only received two that did not agree with our stance."
However, the protest planned to run from December 4-8 at Legends Bar and Grill in Albertville, where the drag show is taking place, has been canceled after the property owners said they did not want any demonstrations.
Albertville Police Chief J.T. "Butch" Cartee told 1819 News the owners, BV Belk Properties Inc. in North Carolina, contacted him asking him to ensure no protests took place. Cartee said any protestors who showed up at the event would be asked to leave the premises or be arrested.
"They'll be asked to leave, and they'll be subject to arrest. We'd rather not make any arrests. We'd rather everybody cooperate," Cartee said. "...I don't want to arrest anybody. Personally, I disagree with this show. I'm not into all that, but it is what it is. We don't want any violence."
"I just encourage people to pray for the situation," he added. "Prayer is far more powerful than protest."
Event organizer Jessica Turner told 1819 News she has increased security measures at the event after making local law enforcement aware of online threats she had received.
Despite the threats and controversy, Turner said she's happy with how things are going regarding the event, which recently sold out its second show. She said more tickets would be added, and all those sold so far have gone to customers primarily from the Marshall County area.
Kirby has repeatedly condemned any threats of violence and said he has "nothing against" the people involved in the drag show. Instead of a protest, he has asked local churches to hold a prayer meeting Friday night. He said so far, over 30 churches have committed.
"The only thing we can do now at this point is folks get together and pray about and let God do what he's going to do," Kirby said.
Childers said his church will be open to the public from 5-8 Friday night for prayer.
"I am disappointed that we are unable to proceed with the public protest, however, I will continue to stand and preach against this perverse and wicked sin by the help of God," Childers said. "Myself, my church, and a multitude of Bible-believing Christians in our communities are emphatically opposed to this despicable masquerade, and we declare that the Bible is against it as well."
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