So Rico and I were dropping some things off at the studio last week, and on our way home, we saw these guys - preachers they call themselves, standing on a street corner near downtown.

They were standing on literal soapboxes, wearing go-pros around their necks. They were pretty heated about something  - shouting at a group of kids, in the parking lot, telling them they were going to hell, asking where there parents were. His direct quote was, "What kind of world are we living in, where parents don't know where their kids are at this time of night? WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS??!!"

Let's be clear, it was 7:30 pm, these kids were between the ages of 15 and 19 and were standing next to the whole foods co-op. It's not like my first grader was down at the VFW smoking cigars at midnight -  it was a perfectly respectable place to be - except for the yelling.

Where were their parents? Who knows? Who CARES? These kids are old enough to drive, babysit and get drafted, they should certainly be allowed to loiter in the parking lot with their hummus and organic almond milk for a few minutes.

But this group of men would not let up, and I saw kids I knew there, kids I taught, kids I went to church with, kids who are friends of my kids -  and I could see this man's face turning purple with rage, spit flying from his mouth, sweat covering his shirt, as he kept screaming, "Where are your parents?!"

And you know - I'm a big fan of the whole"it takes a village" philosophy, so I see a friend of mine, and we decide that we'll go over there and see what's up, maybe make sure the kids are OK.

Holy Hellfire and Damnation.

We no sooner stepped onto the grass near those kids when the preacher started going off on "women" calling us jezebels and harlots. For real?

I mean, maybe we were just bringing some chips for that hummus - but he didn't care. We were going to hell because we were on the wrong side of the parking lot.

He actually posted this video to his youtube (I saw it through a friend of a friend) according to the video he's "never heard kids being so disrespectful, I mean this 17 year old child walked up to me and said things I've never even heard a young man talk like." He posted another on Facebook called "hating the gospel."

He says videos don't lie.
But neither do they tell the whole truth.

This group of middle aged men continually mocked a kid with a growth disability, calling him a baby asking how he could know anything if he was an infant (the kid is 19, and was standing there silently). They only captured the faces of the kids across from them, not the angry glares and gestures from the men. He called their parents names, called them whores and demons.

The worst part of this whole scenario is this - while this "man of God" stood screaming his version of  "the gospel", this is what the kids were quietly whispering to each other:

"I don't think Jesus wants us to hate people - even them."
"I think God wants us to do better."
"Why does this guy get to speak for God? I thought only Jesus could do that?"

THAT'S what these "heathen" kids were talking about, as he spat in their faces.

Certainly there were a few yellers, a few things that shouldn't be said - but really - who could blame them? And yes, they stood there (quietly for the most part) waving a rainbow flag, standing for themselves, their friends, their family members, when they could have walked away. But they were calm, they were peaceful, they were reminding themselves not to judge others.

That guy might have been "preaching" it, but those kids - those kids were the ones living it.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." James 3:17

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." John 3:17

I don't know what all of those people believe, nor do I think for a second, that a single mind was changed that night. And, heck,  we may never know where those kids' parents were - but I do know one thing - their children are people to be proud of, thoughtful, kind, and brave enough to stand for what is good.


Treats said…
We thanked this group of kids for standing together and standing up to hatred. These preachers have riled me for the last year. They have yelled hateful things that are offensive to me. Paul has gone up to them and said that the gospel of Jesus preaches love and that they are preaching hate. They told him he's going to hell.

We were downtown on a Sunday evening this summer, walking along Division St. when no one was out but them and they turned their shouting directly at us, "Catholics are going to hell. Presbyterians are going to hell. Lutherans are going to hell".

They are armed with lawyers protecting their First Amendment right. They have proclaimed that we all should carry guns. They have clearly proclaimed and demonstrated that a woman's place is in the home (their wives are NEVER with them). They are mentally ill.

It makes me angry that our tax dollars are being spent to have police presence whenever they are out. I'm glad the police are there because these men scare me but I think they should have to pay for their time.

I'm not proud of the time that they were screaming about the evilness of homosexuality and I couldn't hold my tongue. I yelled at the top of my lungs "F.U". It felt so awesome then it didn't because I stooped to their level. They called me Jezebel and evil.

We've been told it's best to ignore them but it's hard when they are so loud, so disruptive and so hateful. It's hard. You can't argue with "stupid".

If they are the ones going to heaven, I'd rather not. Sometimes when I see them, I sing the lyrics from Billy Joel's song, "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints".

Lisa McDermott said…
I've tried to figure out what to do with this group from Old Paths Baptist Church. Hold signs in silent protest? Get a singing group together and do a little "Kum Bah Yah" just to make sure that a message about a loving God is presented, too? I think standing in the face of evil is really hard and scary. Good for you for doing it.
j said…
I've tried to figure it out too - but I think they just want to "win" - though I'm not sure how they measure that exactly. If you figure something out - let me know - I'm in.