In a statement released Friday, the Lititz Moravian Congregation Board of Trustees confirmed that the board has denied the use of Lititz Springs Park for a June pride event organized by the homosexual activism group Lititz Chooses Love.
The statement said Lititz Chooses Love “failed in its stewardship of the Park on several fronts” during the June 19, 2022 pride festival.
As The Lancaster Patriot reported last June, the 2022 pride event included overt political messages, including a speech by Jontel Toland openly discussing reparations to be paid to minority communities. Nevertheless, Kellye Martin, park manager of Lititz Springs Park, told LNP|LancasterOnline that protesters were not welcome on the park property because the park’s bylaws prohibit political rallies, demonstrations and speeches.
The church board said the group violated the Declaration of Trust, which clearly prohibits “political activities including, without limitation, campaigning, demonstrations, rallies, etc.”
The statement also cited inappropriate content as part of the reason for the denial of the group’s use of the park in 2023.
“Last summer Lititz Chooses Love included an adult-content Drag Queen performance as a scheduled part of its June 18 program, of which church leadership was unaware,” the statement said. “Trustee president Steve Black was alerted about the adult performance just hours before the event by a concerned Park Board member. That led to surveying the church’s leadership to determine whether the event should go on. With last-minute notice, limited information, and very little time to poll congregation leadership, the adult-content Drag Queen event was allowed to continue, this in a program billed as a family event suitable for young children.”
Congregants and Joint Board members personally witnessed “inappropriate, behavioral, language, vulgarity and dress issues of presenters, with political overtones specifically restricted by the Trust,” the statement said. And “a pair of presenters mocked certain Christian beliefs and the Holy Bible.”
The church board also cited public safety as “a major consideration” in their decision.
“The 2022 event inadvertently triggered a repulsive and potentially dangerous protest requiring police intervention,” the statement said. “The Lititz Borough Police Department is on record stating that in 2023 it will not have the resources to provide Park security.”
The “repulsive and potentially dangerous protest” appears to be a reference to a small outreach conducted by about a dozen members of Independence Reformed Bible Church, a Lancaster County church led by Joel Saint.
The outreach was peaceful, with no physical altercations. Lititz police officers briefly interacted with some of the church members and then casually observed the outreach from a distance. No arrests were made, and the men involved in the outreach were never asked by police to leave the public sidewalk, though they did move from the park property after the police allegedly instructed them to.
The church board expressed that its decision to reject the event should not be interpreted “as an attack on LBGTQ+ persons.”
“While the Lititz Chooses Love park-wide event is not approved,” the statement said, “the Trustees have made it clear that group members are welcome and encouraged to rent a pavilion in Lititz Springs Park for a private gathering.”