A pastor spearheading a protest against a Christmas drag show in Knoxville, Tennessee, advertised for all ages warned that such events are indicative of increasing anti-Christian sentiment in the U.S.
“I think they want American culture to be sexually immoral,” Pastor Ken Peters told Fox News Digital of those who promote such events. “The left has their own religion, and their religion is not Christianity. Just like we would want to raise up kids to love Jesus, love God and love country, they want kids to love their culture and their lifestyle. So I think it’s all part of the culture war. Get them when they’re young. It’s like us having Sunday school.”
Peters, who pastors a church in Knoxville and has drawn attention before because of his activism, has lately made local headlines for organizing a protest against “A Drag Queen Christmas” show that will be performed Thursday evening at the Tennessee Theatre. The show has prompted backlash and support from those on both sides of the issue.
The drag show was not on the agenda during the most recent meeting of the Knoxville City Council, but several residents still showed up to voice their opposition to the event, according to local CBS affiliate WVLT.
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“You will see nothing at a drag show that you wouldn’t see on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ a child’s pageant or a cheerleader at a football game,” one drag performer who showed up to the emotionally charged public forum maintained.
Another Knoxville resident who attended displayed a replica of a spine to city leadership during his comments. “I brought this to remind you of what a spine looks like,” he said. “Grow one.”
The Tennessee Theatre released a statement from Executive Director Becky Hancock earlier this week advising parental discretion after the venue received complaints about the event initially being advertised for all ages.
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“We also have received a small number of complaints about the show being advertised for ‘all ages,’” Hancock wrote in part. “To clarify, an earlier version of the marketing copy provided by the promoter that is renting the theater for the event included that phrase, and we removed it. The approved description of the show is posted currently on the event calendar listing at TennesseeTheatre.com. The current description notes that ‘parental discretion is advised,’ which could be used for many types of content or subject matter.”
Hancock further advised anyone who does not approve of the show’s material to avoid attending.
“I strongly believe, both personally and as the director of this organization, that decisions on what children should or should not see should be left up to their parents or guardians,” said Hancock, who added that the theater “is proud to offer a wide variety of events, entertainment and experiences for the public to consider and attend if they so choose.”
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“The left has their own religion, and their religion is not Christianity.”
Peters, who said he believes drag “is not good for the community in general,” argued that allowing minors at such events is symptomatic of a deeper problem emerging in American culture.
“When you invite kids or allow kids into adult-style entertainment, then I think the culture has an obligation to draw a line,” he said. “I think once we stop drawing a line on kids, we enter into a dangerous period in our country. We open up kids to an adult world that they’re too young for. So, for me, this is about loving our culture, loving our nation and keeping kids as innocent as possible in this day and age.”
Peters said there has been “huge pushback” in the Knoxville community about the drag show, and he pointed blame at Democratic Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.
“This is the most conservative area of one of the most conservative states,” said Peters. “East Tennessee is the pocket of conservatism in the United States. But the problem is you have the downtown area of Knoxville and a mayor who is a leftist, and she will not enforce good laws.”
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The pastor referenced obscenity laws on the books in Tennessee that some argue would apply to such events, especially if minors are present. He believes the mayor of the city, which boasts on its website of working with the LBGTQ+ community to promote “a safe, accountable, inclusive and welcoming community so all Knoxville residents feel represented, respected and appreciated,” supports such events.
Kincannon’s office did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment by the time of publication, but it released an earlier statement about the controversy.
“Part of what makes Knoxville a great place to live and raise a family is its cultural diversity — having many options to enjoy entertainment of your choosing,” Kincannon said, according to local ABC affiliate WATE. “Variety and diversity are good. If something is not to your taste, don’t buy a ticket. Everyone should find the entertainment that gives them joy.”