Monday, December 17, 2012
FL.: Threats to Christian ministry close it down
Vigilante justice and widespread confusion comprised public debate following the Main Street Crestview Association’s unusually negative Christmas parade. A preacher who denied Santa Claus’ existence and shouted anti-gay slurs and eternal damnation from a megaphone drew the public’s outrage.
Hundreds passionately expressed their views — and search for truth on how to prevent similar occurrences — on the News Bulletin’s Facebook page.
But while some sought answers, others picked fights. Well meaning parents posted various scenarios of how they would “handle” the ministers if they returned next year. Threats of vigilante justice rivaled the ministry’s own in-your-face style and ultimately undercut their purpose.
Then the fallout really began. Save Me from the Fire’s website, savemefromthefire.org, states that it’s “currently undergoing scheduled maintenance” — for several days now. James Forrester, the street preacher, deactivated his Facebook account.
Despite overwhelming support for First Amendment rights, several supposedly free-speech advocates — a number invoking mama and papa bear privileges — publicly expressed violent scenarios they’d initiate if the ministers return.
But any speech that theoretically threatens another person’s freedom of speech negates such sentiments, doesn’t it? In this case, it seems, the overwhelming negativity that ensued, doubtlessly hastened by the numerous threats, led to these sites’ closures. After all, firebrand fundamentalists like this ministry live to spread their message, not squelch it.
You can’t fight hate with hate and expect constructive debates or positive strides.
We have no reason to believe Save Me from the Fire’s ministry is not genuine. We may disagree on members’ methods of delivering the Gospel, but no current evidence suggests ministers see themselves as anything other than prayer warriors.