A prominent American street preacher and online Christian activist has been banned by a mobile phone payment app because he protests against LGBT events.
CBN News reports Pastor Rich Penkoski leads Warriors for Christ, a Tennessee-based ministry whose mission is to “bring the church back to the faith of the 1st century, to heal the sick, and to preach the gospel to all of creation.”
He regularly travels across the US to protest against drag shows and LGBT events.
He had been using his Cash App account to collect donations and fund his ministry without any problem for the past six years.
“People would contact our ministry if they had a need. We would give people money for groceries, we’d give people money to help pay an electric bill if they needed it .. all through the app,” Pastor Penkoski explained.
After a Cash App representative admitted that he had not violated any terms of service, she told the activist his account had been closed because the company didn’t like what he was using the app for. He said she then hung up on his call.
The Christian Post reports the pastor then directed donors to his wife’s Cash App account, but that was also cancelled within 24-hours.
The preacher has moved to another payment platform and is considering legal action against Cash App.
He questioned “how exactly they knew what he was doing” and speculated that an “LGBT person or supporter flagged my account” or that Cash App was “watching” him.
He believes it is no coincidence that his blacklisting took place during America’s ‘pride month’.
“We went to a Target store and filmed their pride event, and then we rebuked Target as we walked out and filmed it. So I don’t know if that made a difference or not,” he noted. The US Target retail chain has no connection with the Australian brand of the same name.
In April, an Oklahoma judge banned Pastor Penkoski from commenting on social media platforms for five years after he expressed his moral and religious concerns in posts about a church that endorsed same sex marriage and a public drag show in front of children.
Lawyers from civil liberties advocate The Rutherford Institute have appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court to overturn the restraining order on the pastor, saying it is so vague it effectively prevents him from posting Bible verses or anything else which could prompt his accusers to complain about fearing for their safety.
The lawyers argued his social media ban is based solely on claims the plaintiffs felt harassed and fearful about how others might react to Bible verses cited in Pastor Penkoski’s social media posts.
They point out he made no threats or incitements of violence and had never met any of the complainants from an LGBT+ group.
“Religious individuals have a clear First Amendment right to publicly cite Bible verses that reflect their concerns about moral issues of the day without being accused of stalking, harassing, or terrorising those who are offended by the sentiments,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
He warned: “This case is a foreshadowing of the government’s efforts to insulate the populace from all things that might cause offence by criminalising non-violent First Amendment activities such as speech, thought, and actions perceived to be politically incorrect.”