published Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Streetside salvation

Men tell Riverbend festival-goers of their sin


by Adam Crisp
  • photo
    Staff Photo by Dan Henry WIlliam Taylor Sr., from Durham, N.C., preaches to the crowds at the intersection of 2nd St. and Market St. on their way into Riverbend on Thursday.

Meet Patrick O'Connell. He's the guy who stood on street corners outside Riverbend this week, telling festivalgoers they were going to hell for laundry list of sins.

He says he just wants to save souls -- even if he hurts feelings in the process. His tools include a big wooden cross, a bullhorn and plenty of thick skin to deal with throngs of music lovers who just don't want to hear it.

"I would rather get a positive response or a negative response because at least you know you're igniting something in their heart," said Mr. O'Connell, who traveled from his home in New Bern, N.C., to preach at Riverbend.

Mr. O'Connell, who travels with a group known as the Crossbearers, preaches on college campuses and at festivals all over the country. He's headed today to Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., after spending three days in Chattanooga.

To get the attention of passers-by, Mr. O'Connell and his cohorts don't mind pointing out what they see as sinful behavior.

One evening, while preaching on streets, they called out a teen couple that was holding hands, deeming them "fornicators." One Crossbearer -- all of them in Chattanooga were men -- pointed out a young man with long hair and said he was doomed for hell for his effeminate appearance.

Turning away the Crossbearers' literature will prompt a streetside lecture, and they don't shy from arguing or questioning drunken Riverbendgoers. It's all legal, protected under free speech, officials say, but that doesn't mean people like it or find it very effective.

"It just gives me the heebie-jeebies," said Carol Long, a Rossville woman attending Thursday's B-52s concert. "All the fire-and-brimstone stuff just turns me off."

"I heard them calling out one young man they believed was homosexual the other night," said Holly Press, of Chattanooga. "That hurt my heart. First, they don't really know if he is or not, but even if he was and you didn't agree, I don't think Jesus would want to publicly embarrass someone in that way? Do they think that young man is actually going to go to church now because of that?"

Not everyone sees it that way. Joseph Livingstone, a Hixson resident, said he likes it.

"I'm a believer, and I think a lot of other people could listen to some what they say," Mr. Livingstone said Thursday, just a few feet from where he accepted some of the street preachers' literature.

NOT THAT NEW

This sort of streetside salvation is nothing new, said Dr. Charles Lippy, the Martin Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies emeritus at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"This style really dates back to the 18th century with the urbanization of cities," Dr. Lippy said. "These men think they have truth with a capital 'T.' And what do you do when you have truth like that? You try to spread it. They see themselves as a righteous remnant, sent here by God to bear witness to the truth."

Not all religious leaders agree that the streetside preachers are relevant or even effective.

"It's less effective than it once was," said Dillon Burroughs, a writer for evangelist Jon Ankerberg. "Today, with the Internet and television and everyone having iPods on their hips, people are less likely to want to be stopped in this way."

The Crossbearers aren't the only streetside preachers at Riverbend. Just a few feet from that group was Pastor Marty Tate, who ministers to Peaceful Valley Baptist Church in Rising Fawn, Ga.

"I agree with what they are doing wholeheartedly," Mr. Tate said, who brought his family to hand out Gospel tracts at the intersection of Market and Second streets on Thursday.

PUSHBACK

Getting pushback from drunken partygoers or even those who just don't like being told that their behavior is sinful is all part of the process, Mr. O'Connell said.

"The real Gospel, as it should be preached, will offend some people," Mr. O'Connell said. "The Gospel will always come between the sinner and the sin they love so much, and that's the problem."

That pushback also inspires Mr. O'Connell and others with similar messages to keep going, but for some in Mr. O'Connell's entourage, the encounters can be unnerving.

"Yeah, it's scary," said William Carey, a Crossbearer from Burkesville, Ky. "It makes me nervous, but that's what happened to Jesus."

Riverbend officials have short patience when the men enter the festival. They ejected two preachers from the festival Thursday evening, and the Crossbearers say they have been thrown out every night since they arrived in town.

Chip Baker, Riverbend's executive director, said he wasn't familiar with the group, but he admits they will eject festival patrons if they bother other guests.

"We have a simple policy: be nice," Mr. Baker said. "If you aren't being nice, we'll throw you out."

There's nothing illegal about standing on a street corner with a bull horn, said Chattanooga city attorney Crystal Freiberg.

"As long as they aren't violating any other city ordinance or state law, they are free to engage in free speech on any public grounds," Ms. Freiberg said.

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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KWVeteran said...

Count me as one who really enjoys watching & hearing these street corner preachers. There's really something American and Old-Time about it all. Riverbend Festival is just that: "A Festival". The preaching is part of the entertainment. Take it in stride, folks!

June 13, 2009 at 8:06 a.m.
rolando said...

Outlaw the bullhorns! Stop with the publicity!

Soapboxing is entertaining; using bullhorns to scream personal opinion at people is something else.

Preaching is fine but I won't be shouted at with a bullhorn...for God's Sake [literally], stuff a sock in it!

Great for out-of-state Riverbenders to put up with; great impression they get of Chattanooga.

June 13, 2009 at 9:05 a.m.
downtown said...

I totally disagree-- there is a time and place for preaching and street preaching is very annoying. I have been to Riverbend several years in a row--even worked Riverbend- and really hated to see and hear the things that came out of the street preachers mouth. Everything from calling people sinners to homos- you name it - you were called it. First of all-street preachers do not know every person that comes to RIverbend- so they should not assume they do. Whether a person is a sinner everyday or gay or whatever is the person's business not a street preachers. God love's every person and I know that if God did stand on the corner to preach he would never ever call out people single- handly saying- you are a sinner- you are gay- you are going to HELL-- Yes RIverbend is a festivel- correct- but as I said there is a time and place for preaching and remember you can not force preaching or church on anyone. And for all those that think by embarrassing one in front of thousands is great-- it is just wrong. I personally think that RIverbend should not allow the street preachers- but I am sure that will never happen.

June 13, 2009 at 9:14 a.m.
ta2dmom said...

Judge not lest ye be judged! Guess they missed that in the Bible huh?

June 13, 2009 at 9:47 a.m.
Gump said...

Oh boy, I LOVE having my religion associated with a bunch of screaming, judgmental, puritanical ranters. All they do is remind non-Christians why they're not Christians to begin with.

Compare them with Ron Fender, the monk who works at the Community Kitchen. He has devoted his whole life to feeding and washing the feet of the homeless, not for fame or glory or attention, but all to serve Christ. He preaches the gospel -by example-, and it's -really- Good News--that God won't let anything, not poverty, not misfortune, not even Hell itself, get in the way of His love.

June 13, 2009 at 10:25 a.m.
downtown said...

I am a christian and I do go to church every week-- but as I said earlier there is a time and place for preaching and how you conduct it-- you can not force it on anyone. Bullhorns is stupid. So throw all the stones you wish saying people are non-christians that are ranting-- Unless you personlly know that-- you can not say that. I forgot this is the bible belt-- Most of you enjoy hearing a man call others names in front of thousands of people. Yep -- it is the right thing to do!! Wonders if Jesus would have done this very thing?

June 13, 2009 at 10:52 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Just anoither nutcase, make pay for a permit

June 13, 2009 at 11:59 a.m.
franksmith said...

Just another southern baptist nut.....everyone should be use to them around here...they are all over. Say one thing and do just the opposite, I think they call thet two-faced elsewhere.

June 13, 2009 at 1:02 p.m.
senyahc said...

I am a total "going to hell heathen", and I would be offended if someone who believed I was actually going to hell wouldn't try to help a friend out a bit. I mean, would you knock your neighbors kid out of the way of a train wreck if you could? Of course you would! What's the diff? Give these guys a break, there is a lot of mean people in the world, they are just trying to save us from their train wreck.

June 13, 2009 at 2:06 p.m.
MPalevo said...

The main head guy visited our church a year and a half ago. His wife and kid had some serious problems. We went down to see my bearded buddy, and don't you know, He starts right off the bat to accuse me publicly of sin with other ladies in our church. He has no idea of anything, nor any physical proof, yet he made these accusation just off the cuff publicly. ...for the accuser of our brethren... as the Scripture says, is what was done to me. These kind of Bad spirited people that represent Jesus Christ are the biggest reproach to Christianity.These are the kind of people that like to throw stones, preach against sin, and do the same. They appear not to give two cares about the Word of God either.

Pastor Mike Palevo New Life Tabernacle 3430 Brainerd rd Chattanooga,Tn

June 14, 2009 at 10:29 p.m.
preachhellsfire said...

I am one of the Crossbearers, As we read the article against Us we began to laugh at the Accusations. I have Very Long Hair and It wasnt us that said any of those things. We dont tell people that they are fornicators for holding Hand. We are against Bible Thumpers I saw two Baptist looking Street preachers carrying a Stool to stand on walk by. They wouldnt even say Hi to us, They Had the people mad at us. I beleive they were the ones calling Long haired guys "Effiminate" Ricky Nash & Brian O'Connell are both rounded Street Evangelist and dont spue Hate as the Edditor False Paint a Picture of the Crossbearers. JESUS LOVES YOU, God Bless Michael Siemer,

June 19, 2009 at 11:33 a.m.
preachhellsfire said...

To Michael Palevo You tristed My Words,
I asked you tree times if You have Begun to Molest the Women in Your Church Yet? You Responded What are you talking about, then You said They are all Married. I then told You it usually Happens when someone starts a Cult as You Have. For those who arent privy, You have an antrouge Of women who all look up to you as thier spiritual Guru. You Try to Destroy Christians Faith every Week Teaching That JESUS already returned in 70ad and that JESUS will Not Return again. Your own Denomination Has warned everyone to Mark You as a Heretic. They Have You Listed on thier "Wall of Shame" Anyone who Googles Your name will see the Picture. Your Forming a Cult.

June 19, 2009 at 11:45 a.m.
Sean_Dickerson said...

Responding to Mr. Michael Palevo of New Life Tabernacle who said:

"The main head guy (of some local street preaching group)visited our church a year and a half ago. His wife and kid had some serious problems.(HA! Obviously a line that Mr. Jeffrey Choice of East Ridge "Polly-parroted" [as Palevo puts it quite often] to Sean Dickerson). We went down to see my bearded buddy, and don't you know, He starts right off the bat to accuse me publicly of sin with other ladies in our church. He has no idea of anything, nor any physical proof, yet he made these accusation just off the cuff publicly....for the accuser of our brethren... as the Scripture says, is what was done to me. These kind of Bad spirited people that represent Jesus Christ are the biggest reproach to Christianity. They are the kind of people that like to throw stones, preach against sin, and do the same. They appear not to give two cares about the Word of God either.".......

HAAAA!!! EXCUSE ME???

YOU, sir, have NO ROOM to TALK!!

Why don't you tell people about the ACCUSATIONS you recently stated in your book about "Christianity Cloaked in Paganism" (or whatever it's called?) in that people who celebrate their birthdays are Satanic...isn't that kind of an ACCUSATION that goes way overboard?

Wow...talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

YOU, sir, are SUCH A HYPOCRITE!

AND YOU HAVE LOST YOUR CREDIBILITY, SIR!

JUST ASK SEVERAL PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN EXPOSED ALREADY OF YOUR TRUE COLORS!

Ask Lance Deboer! He will be glad to tell you what he honestly thinks! OR are you still to afraid to belly up to that?

Why don't you call him? To scared???

YOU are as much a coward as you accused Usama Dakdok of being, sir!

YOU HAVE NO CREDIBILITY! IT IS SHOT!

We all know your real deal now. Stop playing games.

Ladies and gentlemen, I challenge you to ask Palevo the tough questions that he selectively avoids. But he never hesitates to accuse others of the same behavior. Absolutely amazing.

By the way, you can email Mr. Palevo at MPalevo@comcast.net.

June 28, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.
Sean_Dickerson said...

P.S. Ask him also why he is so much of a coward, not calling people back after being contacted, the SAME WAY HE accused Usama Dakdok of not doing, when Mr. Palevo wanted a call back from Usama.

Obviously we are all now beginning to see Mike Palevo's true colors.

("Red Flag!", as he so proudly exclaims.)

June 28, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.
Sean_Dickerson said...

https://secure.piryx.com/donate/34dUYNhQ/Stan...

Financially support Stand Up America Now with Dr. Terry Jones as we take a stand against the rise of radical Islam and the spread of sharia here in America!

June 28, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

preachhellsfire said... To Michael Palevo You tristed My Words, I asked you tree times if You have Begun to Molest the Women in Your Church Yet? You Responded What are you talking about, then You said They are all Married. I then told You it usually Happens when someone starts a Cult as You Have. For those who arent privy, You have an antrouge Of women who all look up to you as thier spiritual Guru. You Try to Destroy Christians Faith every Week Teaching That JESUS already returned in 70ad and that JESUS will Not Return again. Your own Denomination Has warned everyone to Mark You as a Heretic. They Have You Listed on thier "Wall of Shame" Anyone who Googles Your name will see the Picture. Your Forming a Cult.

They are all cults! Both of you are in cults! Maybe you should brush up on what a "cult" is. It also sounds like you support a totalitarian form of government, trying to tell people what they can say and all. In case you don't know, we live in a FREE society here. This is a democratic republic. We are all free to say anything we wish about Jesus and the cults you guys belong to. If it wasn't for that, neither of you would be free to preach on the corner.

cult   /kʌlt/ Show Spelled[kuhlt] Show IPA noun 1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. 2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult. 3. the object of such devotion. 4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc. 5. Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cult

June 28, 2012 at 12:40 p.m.
Sean_Dickerson said...

AMEN TO THAT!!!

June 28, 2012 at 4:16 p.m.
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