It was, to put it mildly, an ugly scene when in early October of last year, in Philadelphia, "Repent America" Director Michael Marcavage and some of his fellow Christians tried to peacefully preach the Gospel at a homosexual block party known as "Outfest."
(Note: The following video is not related to the Philadelphia incident)
When the Christians arrived, they were surrounded by angry homosexuals who blocked their Christian signs. Loud, shrill whistles were blown in the ears of the Christians. Vile language was screamed at the Christians.
Eleven Christians from "Repent America," including Marcavage, were arrested. All of them, after spending 21 hours in jail, were each charged with three felonies and five misdemeanors. The felony charges included: criminal conspiracy; ethnic intimidation (preaching the Gospel and singing "Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord); and riot. The misdemeanors charges were: reckless endangerment of another person (hate crime enabler, predicate act); possessing instruments of crime (the use of a megaphone to preach); disorderly conduct and failure to disperse; and obstructing a highway.
If all these Christians had been convicted --- which, thank God, they were not --- each would have faced, respectively, up to 47 years in prison and a $90,000 fine.
Now, you would think that if a Christian journalist was writing about all this, in a supposedly Christian publication, the story here is obvious. The "hate crime" here was by the homosexuals against the Christians.
But, no, when "World" magazine editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky wrote about this in his column in "World" magazine, he attacked the Christians!
In his column, headlined "How to hurt evangelism/In-your-face protests may distort, not amplify, the message," Olasky began by noting that when a judge dismissed all charges against these Christians, she said that free speech extends to Nazis, the KKK and "Repent America." This, he said, was "bitter news for evangelism" because the word had gone out from this judge that Nazis, KKK, and Christians were "all repulsive, but we have to put up with them."
But, this is an unconscionable cheap shot, especially from a person who is supposed to be a fellow-Christian. What, exactly, is the point of saying this when Marcavage and the other Christians in his group were in no way responsible for what this judge said? The notion that evangelism is somehow "hurt" because of what some judge said is absurd.
Olasky also took Marcavage and his Christian crew to task because they carried a sign "decorated by flames, telling the gay revelers that they are going to hell." He asks: "How does that show Christ's compassion?" Well, (1) It's a fact, because God says it, that unrepentant homosexuals ARE going to go to hell unless they repent of their sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And (2) it always shows the compassion of Christ to tell people what God says.
At another point, Olasky asks: "What tactics should Christians use in communicating to homosexuals both God's holiness and God's grace?" Good question, as far as it goes but it does not go far enough. God is not about just holiness and grace. God is also about WRATH. God's Word tells us that God is also a jealous God, a consuming fire, a God who will by no means clear the guilty. To talk about God and leave Hell out of the picture is to preach an incomplete Gospel.
Olasky quotes Marcavage as saying about the criticism of "Repent America" that: "It doesn't matter what we say. This is what we should expect from the world. They killed all the prophets." To which Olasky replies, in part, snidely: "Hmm: Can that be a self-fulfilling prophecy, so that unless we win the ‘repulsive' label we think we've failed?"
But, this is another, below-the-belt cheap shot. Marcavage and the Christians with him were in no way trying to win the "repulsive" label. Not at all. They were simply trying to, and were, peacefully and lawfully preaching God's Word; they were trying to win homosexuals to Christ.
Olasky says that it seems to him that it is "easier to use a megaphone than to love our neighbors quietly and one-by-one, so that we have the credibility to communicate difficult truths to them." Well, (1) what happened to these "Repent America" Christians shows, obviously, that it is NOT all that "easy" to do what they did because they were physically menaced, jailed and charged with a number of serious crimes. And (2) Olasky commits the fallacy of the false alternative. In presenting the Gospel, it is not, necessarily, a choice between using a megaphone OR preaching quietly. There's a time and a place when either method is required.
Ironically, Olasky tells how he once asked some of his University of Texas journalism students to answer the question: "How do Christians act?" Typical answers included: "Fanatical…Trying to force others to do everything their way. Bossing, not helping, others." This is ironic BECAUSE THIS IS THE WAY THE HOMOSEXUALS TREATED MARCAVAGE AND HIS CHRISTIAN CREW!
Olasky concludes his column by referring, obviously, to Marcavage and his Christian evangelists, saying that we, as Christians, should be "constantly reexamining our own understanding and tactics." Well, amen! But, in this particular case, it is Marvin Olasky who should be reexamining, and apologizing for, his gratuitous and unwarranted bashing of Michael Marcavage and his fellow Christians who were simply trying to tell Hell-bound homosexuals what God says about their sin.
We, as Christians, should expect to be attacked by the world. We should not expect to be attacked by the Editor of "World" magazine, which is supposed to be a Christian publication.
A footnote: If you would like to contact Marvin Olasky to tell him what you think about his column, his office phone number is 609-258-7101. If he replies, let us know what he said. And, please, be nice. Do not respond to Olasky the way he did to Michael Marcavage & Company.