The pastor of an Ohio congregation whose members often protest the business of a nearby strip club, was arrested Friday for trespassing onto the club's property, a month after topless exotic dancers appeared at his church to counter protest.
Pastor Bill Dunfee of New Beginnings Ministries was standing at a public property parking lot next to the Foxhole North Club with his Bible, as he usually does to protest, when the owner, Thomas George, engaged in an altercation with him. According to the Coshocton County Sheriff's Office, Dunfee refused to leave and was immediately arrested.
"We will not be discouraged. We will not be deterred. We will not give up on what is right. We will continue to let our light shine and hold up Jesus," Dunfee told the Coshocton Tribune.
George admitted to shoving Dunfee a few times with enough force to push him onto the road. Dunfee, according to the Tribune, plans to file charges against George for the assault.
The feud between New Beginnings Ministries and the club has been escalating through the years, as church members usually protest by standing at the club's parking lot to voice their disapproval of the strip joint or persuade incoming customers as to why they should not enter the establishment.
Dunfee noted that Geroge's problem is not merely because his members disapprove, but also because patrons have turned away from the club due to their protests, and because at least one stripper has left the club to commit her life to Christ.
In the past, Dunfee's church has also extended a helping hand to the women by offering them housing, food and money for their personal bills.
" … Many potential patrons of the club have committed or recommitted their lives to Christ and have returned home to their spouses with a pledge to keep their marriage vows sacred, as God intended. For this reason, we continue to stand … while some may view our actions as 'protest,' we consider it an opportunity and our duty as Christians …," reads a statement on the church's website.
Last month, a few strippers gathered on the church's property without shirts or bras, which is legal according to Ohio law, because they claimed congregation members had been harassing them for years.
Earlier this summer, over a dozen strippers clad in bikinis also camped out in front of the church's entrance with lawn chairs, one of them even flashed a church member. At the time, George told USA Today that he could not control who saw the topless women even if children were present, noting that "they just happen to be unfortunate innocent bystanders in this whole mess."
Dunfee is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Sept. 29 on the trespassing charges, which are considered fourth-degree misdemeanors.