03/08/2014 08:04 am ET Updated Mar 08, 2014

'Pastors Arrested For Defending The Faith' Video Causes Backlash Against Ohio Sheriff's Office

Deputies of Ohio's Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry have come under fire from their community for a video of the officers arresting three pastors in front of their congregations and handcuffing them, supposedly for the crime of "defending their faith."

However, the arrests were fake -- staged as part of a marketing strategy for an upcoming drama, "Defending the Faith," which will take place at the Akron, Oh. civic center, according to Akron Beacon Journal.

Nonetheless, some churchgoers were upset by the dramatic antics, prompting Barry to release a statement explaining that it wasn't real. “I want to clarify that none of the arrests were real. It was all part of a skit that went along with the pastors’ sermons that day,” he said. “I knew it was being filmed, but I thought it was only going to be shown to the congregation. Once it got out there on the Web, people were commenting about how disgusting we were to interrupt church services to effect an arrest."

Edra Frazier is the marketing director for the upcoming performance, and she stood up to explain the stunt to the congregations after the pastors were arrested. The Rev. Melford Elliott, pastor at Greater Bethel Baptist Church; the Rev. Robert Golson, pastor at Prince of Peace Baptist Church; and the Rev. Vincent Peterson, pastor at Providence Baptist Church all took part.

She deems the stunts successful and will organize more "arrests" as the lead up to the production goes on. “Our hope is that as sheriff’s deputies continue to make their way to churches throughout the community, members of that congregation will see that their pastors truly are defenders of the faith,” she said. “Even though it starts with a negative image of a pastor being arrested, this is a dramatic way to deliver the positive message that our spiritual leaders are doing a lot of good in our community."



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