James the Preacher

26 04 2011

So, this weekend, I attended the American Atheist Convention in Des Moines, Iowa. The speakers were great, and the overall experience was amazing. Outside, however,  protesters held up signs and marched back and forth in an effort to show all the atheists inside that God loves them. There was one caveat, though: if someone didn’t believe in this all-loving God, they would burn in a lake of fire for all of eternity. They held up signs like this:

Me with Friendly Protesters

I saw these guys. and I was like, "PICTURE!"

We offered them tidings of goodwill, hot meals, and COFFEE(!) that were only a couple steps and one door away, but they wouldn’t budge. Our grand scheme to deconvert all the believers and force our heathen-ness on them had failed once again. Additionally, it seemed that, at a couple points, the protesters became kind of perplexed that the supposedly “amoral” atheists had come out and offered the the protesters coffee and other amenities. Hopefully we were able to demonstrate to them that it is possible have morals without a belief in God.

Anyways, these guys were pretty friendly, but also pretty unknowledgeable. (At one point, an atheist with parents who experienced the Holocaust asked why an all-loving God would permit 6 million of his chosen people to die, to which there was a rambling non-response.)

There was actually a pretty funny incident that made local news, too: a Catholic walking by the hotel saw these protesters and told them that what they were doing was wrong and that they shouldn’t be proselytizing. A heated argument ensued, and (luckily!) a reporter with a camera walked by during the argument and filmed the entire incident! :D (I’m pretty sure the local segment was called, “Local Atheist Convention Spurs Debate Among Christians Over Interpretations of the Bible.”)

The first day went about without much incident, but the second day…that was a different story.

James the Preacher

James the fucking Preacher.

While I was outside debating some relatively calm protesters, this guy shows up, and, according to his t-shirt and signs, atheists, church gossips, drunkards, abortionists, thieves, sex addicts, druggies, liars, homosexuals, the effeminate, gamblers, and effeminate gamblers were ALL going to hell. Joy.

James arrived pretty boisterously and he made it QUITE clear what he thought about the atheist community. Along with his marginalizing, extreme, and vitriolic rhetoric, James brought his family: his two soft-spoken sons, his also soft-spoken daughter, and his wife who was wielding the same all-mighty weapon that I was armed with: a semi-automatic machine gun/hand grenade launcher a video camera.

Here are some memorable lines from the Preacher:

“[I am here] preaching the Gospel to wicked and un-Godly people who are stupid enough to reject God, and the reason why is because they love their sin, and they’re full of pride. John, Chapter 3.”

On the people at the convention: “They’re dykes, they’re lesbians, they’re Sodomites, they’re liars, they’re thieves, they’re fornicators. That’s what the Bible says.”

“[Calling them dykes and lesbians] is derogatory! God is derogatory!”

At one point, James holds up a sign that says “WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO VOTE”. One of the atheist observers reacts pretty angrily, although it should be noted that she really only called the “Preacher” a “fucking son of a bitch,” and that it really pales in comparison to the violent and disturbing words of James.

After a while of taping James’ words, I got bored of what he said because he essentially recycled the same phrases over and over again. So, I went over to the rest of his family that he brought along and asked them some questions. They didn’t really say much, but they did tell me that they were all related and that they agreed with everything the preacher had to say. Later in the rant (not on video) the family started a chant with James.

It seems like all of this hate speech is a far cry from the thoughts of most Christians, and I recognize that this is true. In fact, a lot of my friends are Christians, if not devout Christians, and they would never say ANY of these hateful statements. BUT, it really should be noted that a lot of things that James said weren’t made up; a lot, if not most of the statements, actually had Biblical roots:

(King James Version): “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

(New International Version) “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:13)

(New King James Version) “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

(New King James Version) “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

(New Living Translation): “The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have committed a detestable act, and are guilty of a capital offense.”

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (I Corinthians 11:3)

“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” (I Corinthians 11:8-9)

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Whoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death. He that sacrificeth unto any god, save to the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.“(Exodus 22:18-20)

“Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Timothy 2:11-14)

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

So there it is. It seems that James essentially took a more literal interpretation of the Old Testament than most, and that’s pretty much what it boils down to: interpretation. And every person is going to have a DIFFERENT interpretation of the Bible because every person is DIFFERENT. In this case, the difference in James’ case is probably that he was indoctrinated with all of these beliefs as a child, and that he is probably more of a literal person. That explains all of the rhetoric.

However, none of this changes the fact that his hate speech is EXTREMELY violent and dangerous, and it is the same kind of rhetoric that spurs anti-gay and anti-feminist movements throughout the country, and in the worst cases, provokes violence against atheist and gay activists. Don’t get me wrong, James had every right in the world to go to that street corner and start screaming at every person in sight that every person inside the American Atheist Convention, that edification of amorality and and drunkenness(?), was going to hell. His rights to free speech are protected under the First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights. But, it really should be the responsibility of everyone who believes in human dignity and human equality to combat this kind of stuff whenever they see it. It impacts lives, and in the greatest of cases, it can SAVE lives.

So yeah. That was my weekend. :)




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14 responses

2 05 2011
Dax

That, my friend, was simply amazing. I shared it so hopefully you get some more credit where it’s due.

2 05 2011
Sanjeev Mishra

Thanks, man. I really hope the word gets out about this. The Youtube video is already at like 13,000 views! :)

3 05 2011
Preacher at the American Atheist Convention | Unreasonable Faith

[...] the atheists and the street preachers was pretty amicable before this guy showed up. The new blog We Are Stardust has the story. « Quote of the Moment: Thom’s [...]

3 05 2011
pmsrhino

Mostly I just feel really sorry for his wife and daughter. I can only imagine how horrible their home life must be. :\

3 05 2011
Gary Morris

Believe it or not, I used to believe a lot of what that guy was saying. I wouldn’t go scream it on a street corner and I had a little more faith that god would be the final judge but I believed, very much, the things he was saying. I followed the bible literally as best I could. That is a very depressing and dangerous road.

Thank god I have been delivered! lol

Check out my blog ( http://GaryMorris.me ) to read about my deliverance from god and come join us on Face Book (if you are not already there) at Free Thinkers of the South (everyone is welcome, not just southerners). There are a lot of fellow “believers” there.

Thanks for posting this, I can’t wait until I have some flyers printed up to hand out to people like this.

3 05 2011
assassingrl

This is going to sound nuts, but I’m almost positive this was the same preacher that accosted me and my 16 year old daughter in Ybor City (Tampa, FL) several months ago. He accused us of being ‘dykes’ because I had my arm around her as we were walking. My daughter stuck her tongue out at him and he claimed she did it because “she wanted to lick his anus.” How charmingly Christian of him.
The rest of his rant was pretty much identical to what you’ve posted here.
Even the homeless guy on the street was disgusted by him and said he made the neighborhood look bad.
Wow, who knew these guys traveled so much.

3 05 2011
Sanjeev Mishra

That actually isn’t that crazy. I’m pretty sure this guy is known to fly around the country to scream at people. Apparently (I forget if it was in the video when he said this) he is from Florida, as well? That would make a lot of sense considering that he said that terrible thing to you and your daughter in Florida.

What a disgusting man.

3 05 2011
marty

You should have asked him if lobster were okay, its only a few verses away from the “sodomite” abominating. Not that it would matter, this guy would just talk over you anyway.

4 05 2011
Roz

James is from Florida. He is my YouTube ‘muse’ one might say. He goes all over the country – a few days later he was arrested in Memphis (but they had to let him go : ) You can watch the fun at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwsg0pdp7sQ

16 05 2011
Ronald Conda

Hi, I ran into your web site from stumbleupon. It’s not something I would regularly read, but I loved your spin on it. Thanks for making something worth reading!

7 06 2011
wtw

@assassingrl Woah! He said that to your daughter? Wow! I’m afraid I’m way too aggressive to withstand something like that I’m pretty sure I would be in jail right now for putting my fist through his face if I had been there. And BTW I’m not sure but since your daughter is only 16 and this comment was of a sexual nature I think there might be possible legal repercussions for that too.

8 06 2011
Sanjeev Mishra

Actually, she’s my sister. Haha, I probably should have been more clear. She’s an adult, too; she’s 19, haha.

I appreciate the response, though. I’ve seen videos of his bigoted pig berating young children before. It’s sickening. They shouldn’t be exposed to that level of hate that early in their lives.

30 11 2011
Sayingwhatneedsaying

We need to start stoning the messanger………..

18 01 2012
MadsSoegaard

What the fuck is wrong with that guy?! But cool blog Sanjeev, good job

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