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Repent for your gross misrepresentations of the facts, 'pro-family' America

by Jeremy Hooper

You know what always provides an eye-opening experience? Looking at how the religious right describes their protests and whatnots, and then comparing those slanted accounts with reports from other press outlets.

Picture 2-71Latest case in point: Here is how the American Family Association's One News Now details a recent protest staged by the extremist group Repent America:

Activists with the groups Repent America and Life & Liberty Ministries say they were on the Kutztown University campus to pass out gospel literature and speak with students about what the Bible teaches regarding a variety of issues, including abortion and homosexuality. When a crowd of about 300 students gathered to either listen to the preachers or ridicule their message, police told the Christian groups they were not permitted on campus because they did not give two weeks notice and were not sponsored by a campus group.

Two of the preachers were arrested for disorderly conduct because they did not leave the campus immediately. One of them, Michael Marcavage, says because the police did not affirm the preachers' right to be there, the students acted in a more hostile fashion.

"There were all kinds of different reactions to the message," Marcavage explains, "and our presentation was that we have all sinned, we have all violated God's law -- and therefore we're in need of a Savior; and Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man cometh to the father but by Him."

On the flip side, here is how the Allentown Morning Call recounts the same event (highlighting our own):

A religious group that staged a protest at Kutztown University today drew hundreds of angry students after members of the group told them they would burn in hell if they were gay, Jewish or Catholic.

Campus police led several of protesters away in hand-cuffs and led the rest off campus after as many as 300 students gathered around the group, according to witnesses.

Campus officials said there may have been arrests because the group had not gotten permission to be on campus. The protest took place on the Day of Silence, an annual event held to bring attention to bullying, harassment and discrimination of gays and lesbians in schools.

According to student witnesses, the religious group, whose affiliation they did not know,
gathered in the lawn in front of the school library. They carried signs with words such as "Jesus or Hell." One man had a Bible in one hand and a bull horn in the other. The group included adults and children.

Ben Fried, 21, a junior from East Greenville, said the man with the bull horn started yelling things such as "repent or go to hell" if you were gay.

Another student, Dan Moyer, 21, a junior from Catasauqua, said the man was also yelling out against Catholics and Jews.
Students broke out in applause when campus security showed up and led the group away, Reinhard said.

Hmm..call us crazy, but we don't think "Jews, Catholics and gays will burn in hell" is merely "what the Bible teaches regarding a variety of issues." Wonder why One News Now failed to mention exactly what Repent America was conveying in their little demonstration? Must have been an oversight.

Here also is a letter from the Kutztown University president, who quite ably explains the reasons for limiting the protesters' activities (again, highlighting our own):

Letter to KU Community:

There was a brief disturbance on the Library Lawn today, beginning shortly after noon, in which
a small group of people came onto our campus unannounced and unauthorized and began to obstruct traffic on the sidewalks and conduct themselves in a manner our public safety officers judged to be disorderly. They were invited to leave the campus or alter their behavior. When that invitation was declined, they were removed from the campus.

Kutztown University has a deep and abiding respect for the United States Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees us all – including the right to free speech, especially unpopular speech, for as wise men have pointed out for centuries, popular speech needs no protection.

Nonetheless, our respect for that right does not extend to allowing individuals to distract us from our purpose. The university has the right to determine the time, place and manner in which people wishing to visit the campus to share a message may do so. And we have very clear guidelines to do so. These individuals today did not follow any of the university established rules and regulations for holding public events, picketing or demonstrations.

I am told that our visitors brought with them some photographs many of our students found disturbing and objectionable, and that those images were positioned in a place so that they could be seen from our early childhood learning center. There is a difference in the mind of a reasonable person between unpopular speech and gratuitously offensive "speech" aimed at an audience that is not party to the issue you raise. Public Safety removed those images
. I am saddened that our campus community and the children in the early learning center were subjected to this kind of display.


F. Javier Cevallos

But hey -- why mention any of the easy to understand reasons why Repent America's protest was out of line, when you can just do as One News Now has done and make it look like the latest example of religious bias? After all, "We didn't follow the proper rules so our anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-gay protest was curbed" just doesn't have the same martyr-like ring to is as does "We were arrested for innocently preaching the Gospel, take pity on our morally righteous souls."

In the closing of the One News Now piece, the "news" site quotes Repent America's Michael Marcavage as contending that he has "the right to be at Kutztown University because it is one of 14 schools owned or operated by the state of Pennsylvania and thus is a 'public forum.'" And he's right; he can be there. But he would only have a point if he and his followers were disciplined for "mere presence on a public campus" instead of disorderly conduct and other punishable offenses! Here's hoping that as he and his "pro-family" allies try and push this story as an example of discrimination against people of faith, they will be a tad more righteous in terms of details and accuracy. We won't hold our breath.

One News Now's account: Christian street preachers booted from Penn. school
Morning Calls' account: Religious protest roils Kutztown U.
President's letter: Letter from Kutztown University President

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