The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Gay-Bashing Preachers Bedevil Florida City

By Casey Sanchez on February 20, 2009 - 2:54 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT

It’s that time again in Tampa, Fla.

For several years running, some of the most extremist and confrontational street preachers in America have come together in Tampa every February to shout through bullhorns that Muslims, gays and loose women, among many, many others, are damned to burn in hell.

Why February in Tampa? A few reasons. One is the spring semester revving up at the University of South Florida. Another is Gasparilla, the annual pirate-themed extravaganza celebrating Tampa Bay’s pirate legacy, which draws thousands of costumed revelers. The fact that Super Bowl XLIII was played in Tampa on Feb. 1 only heightened this year’s fervor for notorious traveling street preachers like Micah Armstrong, who tells college students that drinking beer, smoking pot, masturbating, and reading a Harry Potter book are just a few of the transgressions that will irretrievably doom them to the lake of fire.

Gays and lesbians? Hellbound, says Armstrong. Moderate Protestants? Hellbound. Women who wear pants or have jobs? You guessed it — hellbound.

“Women have two places: In front of the sink and behind the vacuum,” Armstrong proclaims.

The University of South Florida campus newspaper, The Oracle, warns incoming students about Armstrong and likeminded road-tripping proselytizers who in the past have blocked sidewalks and confronted students by “spitting on their shoes and calling them names like ‘slut,’ ‘whore,’ ‘fag’ and ‘homo’ while preaching.” Two years ago, according to the campus paper, a member of USF’s rugby team broke preacher Micah Armstrong’s sign and allegedly briefly throttled him after the preacher called the athlete’s girlfriend a “loose sorority slut.”

In a recent post on Talk to Action, a website that monitors religious extremism, writer Richard Bartholomew details and links to a video documenting an especially ugly incident that occurred the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. It was instigated by members of the Official Street Preachers, a Los Angeles-based ministry. “The group has a distinctive (albeit Fred Phelps-like) corporate image and delivery style,” writes Bartholomew, referring to the infamous proprietor of the God Hates Fags website. Earlier this month, members of the Official Street Preachers, en route to the Tampa Super Bowl, stopped off at a local mosque to yell through a bullhorn that “Mohammed was a liar, was a pedophile, was a murderer.”

The Official Street Preachers are tied to the Tampa-based Biblical Research Center, which is run by street preacher Larry Keffer. The website carries many photos of other protests, under headings such as “Preaching at the 17th Annual Sodomite Film Festival at the Tampa Theater”; “Preaching to the Satanists”; “Preaching To The Atheists,” and “Preaching to Illegal Aliens and Their Supporters.” It also offers a rapid-fire ticker clock counting how many people have died “since opening this web page” adding that “the vast majority of those people are entering Hell.”

  • ManPuppyMen

    “A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed.”
    – Deuteronomy 22:13-21

    See? We can quote the Bible, too.

  • Reinhold

    Send them to the gulag. In my ideal world there is no free speech or free exercise of religion. for hundreds of years street preachers in this country having been getting away with hurting people’s feelings. This must stop. We know we can shut them down because a number of my favorite countries have been successful. Use of violence and intimidation works, as Marisa noted, but best of all use the power of the government to stop the months of those who say things we do not want them to be saying.

  • Erich

    They have every right to free speech, including the right to call a rugby player’s girlfreind: “Slut” to her face.

    On the other hand, a certain Darwinist perspective is useful in considering the rugby player’s response.

    I would therefore encourage street preachers to continue taunting the girlfreinds of large, muscular athetes.

    It would provide exciting opportunities to spread God’s Word at the local ICUs.

  • Marisa

    REAL MEN would round up these street preachers and take them out behind the barn for “attitude adjustments.”

  • Dave von Ebers

    “Women have two places: In front of the sink and behind the vacuum,” Armstrong proclaims.

    I’m guessing Pastor Armstrong doesn’t have much of a sex life …

  • kaythegardener

    Why not take a portable audiometer to the scene to measure if these brimstone & hellfire preachers are obeying the anti-noise ordinances regarding public order & consideration for their fellow citizens?
    It would surely be an objectively decided case, based on scientific documentation, thus abiding by First Amendment protections of free speech & religious freedom, as well.

  • Carter

    From a Theological perspective the concept of “if you don’t do this or that you are going to Hell” does not make any sense.
    This has been the topic of Theological discussions & papers for centuries.
    The Evangelist will insist that his duty is to call everyone to the One True God. But since he is only human, he cannot reach everyone who has not heard The Word. Therefore, is a child, committing no Biblical transgression, who lives in a remote area where the erstwhile preacher cannot find him sentenced to Hell?
    This is the circular logical break down of the same ilk as “Can God make a rock so heavy, he cannot lift it?”

    If the answer to the above is “yes; but we cannot comprehend the answer”, then the same child will certainly NOT go to Hell because God preforms outside of the conceptions of the Evangelist’s understanding of Forgiveness. It is NOT the Evangelist who could ever sentence anyone to Judgment.

  • beverly

    Well, at least he didn’t say women had to stay barefoot and pregnant, but maybe thats understood by the WNs, pity if he has a female mate. Most likely a male friend is all he can keep, sometimes those kind of big burley muscle men protest just a bit too much, not that there is anything wrong with male to male or women to women or mixed.

    I learn so much reading!!! Sodimite Film Festival!

    I hear yeagley gives speeches in Florida, but he’s too chicken to do the streets, Armstrong sounds just like yeagleys kind of MAN!

    Say what you will Armstrong, I will never give up my jeans, though I am female thru and thru, and I love the opposite sex.

  • Exaggerato

    Recommended responses (which may or may not work) to such excesses of street-preaching obnoxiousness:

    None other than a chorus of the old “Uber alles” (as in “Deutschland, Deutschland”) … or, better yet, “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (“The Voice of South Africa”) … or, weirder still, a medley of “The Song of Eternal Leader Kim Il Sung” and “The Song of Great Leader Kim Jong Il.”