The New Evangelization as Hate Speech?

I rather have a suspicion most Catholics who talk about the New Evangelization do not mean preaching the Gospel on street corners.

In fact, the idea might seem awfully Protestant or embarrassing or low class.  I must confess that even when I was a Protestant, during my Baptist days the street corner evangelist-type made me cringe.

In the 1990s, at least once a week, a young man in a suit would stand on a busy downtown Ottawa street and preach about God's love, our need for repentance, and the price Jesus Christ paid for our sins.  He would part the crowd sea like Moses as people tried to avoid his eye and pass by as quickly as they could.  I could see the scorn many had for him.  Lord knows, I was glad it wasn't me with that calling.  Or presumption or whatever it was.

Then one day, I saw him speaking one on one with a young woman.  They were seated in a little concrete park on the corner where he usually preached.  What if he brought her to Christ?  What if, for all his trouble, he brought say, one person a week to know Jesus as Lord and Savior?  One person a month?  One person a year?  Hmmmm.  I certainly did not have that kind of record.

After that, when I passed him, I would catch his eye and smile.  I would give him a thumbs up of encouragement.  But I was still grateful this was not my calling.

Then in 1998, The Billy Graham Mission was coming to town and our Baptist church was one of the preparation hubs, training counselors who would follow up on those who went forward to Billy Graham's altar call as the choir sang "Just As I Am."

I enrolled and at first I thought, my goodness, what a public relations juggernaut this is, with every detail glossily packaged down to the last detail.  The teachings were simple but good, however, focusing our ability to share the Gospel and making me realize most of us had no confidence or practice in doing so.  Then came the "Billy Graham homework."  We were given a tract (a tract!) and asked to share it with someone that week.

Entirely dismayed, I went home and wrestled with the assignment, thinking, I am so not a tract-handing-out-type Christian.  How embarrassing.  But then, it hit me.  I was ashamed of the Gospel.  I would so rather be cool, or popular or sophisticated in how I presented my faith than to just simply share the Good News.  I did the homework and was amazed at what happened.  You can read more about it here.

I've been thinking a lot about this since watching videos of a Toronto pastor who brought a little portable cart full of pamphlets and a microphone to the recent Gay Pride Parade and started preaching about God's love, about how we are all sinners, how Jesus paid the price for our sins and invites us to come to Him.

Pastor David Lynn was insulted, screamed at, and had some kind of soft drink thrown in his face.  But that's not the worst of it.  Instead of having his rights of freedom of expression protected, he was told by Toronto police he was promoting hate.  Here's an excerpt of LifeSiteNews.com's coverage.  If you go to LifeSite there are links to several videos of the confrontations.

Lynn then accused the officer of “taking sides.” By now six officers had surrounded the preacher.

“This is Canada Day, and I have freedom to believe whatever I want to believe and to preach what I want to preach,” said Lynn to the gathering police force.

One officer shouted at the cameraman “Hey, you’re blocking the sidewalk now”, and forcefully grabbed for the camera. Other cameras that caught the action show a police officer manhandling Lynn’s cameraman, pushing him along the sidewalk.

“Pack it up,” officers repeatedly said.

By now Lynn was surrounded by as many as 12 police officers.

“I don’t need a permit to preach,” Lynn said. “You’re discriminating against me because I’m preaching the Gospel.”

“You’re promoting hate,” staff sergeant R. Pasini said.

Police finally compelled Lynn to leave amid shouts of “Thank you Toronto police” from pro-homosexual spectators."

-snip-

Lynn also says he was flabbergasted by the “hate” that was shown to him and his ministry team by the homosexual paraders.

“To see Christians hated so aggressively by members in that community…I haven’t seen that level of hatred. And there were cheers for that kind of hatred and that kind of discrimination. If that’s what that parade is about — hatred towards Christianity — that’s scary.”

-snip-

Despite all the hostility, Lynn says that his street ministry that day was not in vain.

“Over 100 free bibles were voluntarily picked up.” An estimated 5000 tracts filled with Gospel messages were also picked up.

I dunno.  I'm reminded of the Book of Acts and the courage shown by St. Paul when he spoke in the marketplaces in sex-saturated pagan societies and faced the rage of the crowd to the point of beatings, stonings, and imprisonment.

This guy David Lynn is impressive in his calm and measured response to the hatred lobbed at him.

This is the kind of muscular, manful Christianity that we will need if we will ever be able to take back the culture and leave a stable future for our grandchildren.  Catholics may have different ways of expressing faith in the public square — but no one can duck the responsibility or try to water the Truth down so it will be popular with the world.   Thankfully, according to Quebec Archbishop and Primate of Canada Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, the New Evangelization is not meant to be a "mellowed down" Gospel.

Softening the message has nothing to do with the new evangelization, says the Primate of Canada, though some people have tried to make the Gospel “sweeter” and “easier,” telling people “it’s not as difficult as you think” or “you don’t have to convert completely.”

“That’s not what will attract people,” Lacroix said in an interview from Quebec City Nov. 14. “Our mission must be to preach the truth of the Gospel, and the full message of the Gospel.”

“The rest does not belong to us,” he said. “Some will convert and will follow Christ; others will reject us and persecute us for being different.”

-snip-

Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have continued making the case for the urgent need of a new evangelization over the past three decades.

“I told my brother bishops, don’t you think we’ve been in the emergency room long enough? “ Lacroix said. “Why are we so slow in reacting?

Instead, he says we continue to do what we have always done, while we have a world that is suffering, going farther away from the light, being taken over by other ways of thinking, dominated by economic interests that do not free people, by terrorism.

“We need really to get up to par to find ways to reach out and evangelize others,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it so long.”

-snip-

The new evangelization refers to the mission of re-evangelizing people in societies like those in North America or Europe where Christianity has deep roots, but many people have only a superficial faith or have fallen away, he said. Evangelism refers to reaching out to peoples who have never heard the Gospel.

When he became Quebec archbishop last February, he said journalists asked him, “You’re a young man, a young bishop, how are you going to adapt the Gospel so it will be receivable by today’s modern men and women?”

“I don’t think it’s the Gospel we need to adapt,” he said. “It’s our lives that we need adapt to be faithful to the Gospel. “

Amen!  I still do not feel called to stand on street corners handing out tracts, but I hope that, should God impress on my spirit some time that He wants me to, I hope I would obey Him.

And what will the New Evangelization look like inside the Ordinariates?  Could the newly approved marriage rite be deemed hateful by the State because it so beautifully upholds the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman?

Author: Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong is a member of the Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (www.annunciationofthebvm.org) in Ottawa, a former parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (Traditional Anglican Communion) whose members were received individually and corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2012 by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at St. Patrick’s Basilica. Under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the community will celebrate an approved Anglican Use liturgy and hopes to soon join with other sodalities across Canada to form the Canadian Deanery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary. As we wait for our priest(s) to be ordained as Catholic priests, God willing, Archbishop Prendergast will provide priests to celebrate our Sunday Eucharist according to the Anglican Use. Deborah is a journalist who covers religion and politics in Canada’s national capital, writing primarily for Roman Catholic newspapers since 2004. Her novel The Defilers, published in 2006, was not a best seller, alas. She spent 17 years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in news and current affairs, including 12 years as a television producer.

8 thoughts on “The New Evangelization as Hate Speech?”

  1. I'm afraid that nutbars picketing the funerals of deceased servicemen with "God hates fags" signs and similar incidents have created an association in some (many?) people's minds between Christian evangelization and an anti-homosexual message.

  2. That same crew was protesting against the Holy Father and the Catholic Church when he visited New York in 2008. If you look at a "who benefits" scenario, you have to wonder who is behind this group. I know I'm not the only one wondering if they are really anti-Christian operatives trying to spread negative message about the Church.

    That said, no matter how gently and kindly you do it, telling people they are sinners in need of repentance is going to get you labeled like this anyway. It's a tactic to call people racist or homophobic, or sexist or whatever. A tactic meant to shut down legitimate debate and end the conversation. It's time we stopped falling for it and shutting up.

  3. EPMS, yes I think you are right, sadly. And Deborah, no question "who" is really behind this group. The Westboro people are clearly consumed by a demonic hatred and zeal. Reading their wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church), it is mind-boggling to see how many protests these nuts have run and how much impact they have had on the national culture and body of law (federal and states).

    What is truly shocking to me, though, is that this group amounts to 40 people. Forty! Mostly just the large family of one man!

    I think that is a lesson for the New Evangelization: even a small group of Catholics, if they are shrewd enough and devoted enough, can have an influence far beyond their size. That should be an inspiration especially for the Ordinariates.

    One way I hope we see the New Evangelization through the Ordinariate is in articulating an answer to a question non-denominational Christians have started to ask: Is the Reformation over? (http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/marknoll_intvw_sept05.asp)

    The Ordinariates have the potential to reach Protestants of all sorts with the fullness of the Catholic faith, welcoming them into the Church as a reconciliation of the Reformation. United, not absorbed.

  4. I am moved by Mr. Lynn's witness to Christ. Nothing really has changed for 2,000 years. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of Holiness, and yet He was accused as a blasphemer. A Christian may preach of Love Incarnate, and yet he is accused of promoting hate. Sometimes, I wonder what does it matter what all these other people think of me as a Christian- yesterday, they will wave palms at you and applaud you, tomorrow they will spit in your face and kill you. It has happened to our God, it will happen to us Christians- it's just a matter of when.

    I pray that today or tomorrow, God will grant me the same sort of courage that enables that man to endure for the love of God and neighbor.

    I say, when Judgement Day comes, which may be later today, or when I am asleep, or tomorrow, those who are good will be separated from who are evil. And Christ will know who loved and followed Him, who was ashamed of Him, who ignored Him, who did not know Him, and who hated Him.

  5. I don't get why attacking gay people is a "witness for Christ" either from the Phelps clan or Mr. Lynn. It is not a sin to be gay. You may say that it is a sin to "act on it" in terms of sexual behaviour, but I won't debate that point, snce that is not the issue here. Some so-called Christians have an open, visceral hatred for gay people and consign them to hellfire at every opportunity. It is difficult enough for young or not-so-young people to deal with the ostracism and hatred they receive every day (and they do-a young man committed suicide in Ottawa last year due to anti-gay bullying) and it is not Christ-like to condemn people for being gay. Christ was no bully and God can and does have gay children. One gay perosn said "I cannot beleive that God made me gay so that he could hate me". God does not hate and neither do we. Every person is made in God's image.

    1. Richard Grand, did you watch the videos? David Lynn expressed no hatred or fear. But much hatred and spite was directed at him.

      Are gay people the only non-sinners in the world?

      Yes, everyone is made from God's image, but we all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. We must all repent (and it's a sin nature we all have, not just individual sins) and come to love and obey Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

      As for human sexuality, no one seems to be want to be told what is right or wrong in this area, but following Christ demands chastity and continence and sex confined to a marriage between a man and a woman—-and that sexual act must be open to life.

      It's hard. It's hard for heterosexuals not to enter into sexual sin, too.

      This pastor's going to the Gay Pride Parade might have been a provocative move. I don't know the inner motivations. But it could have been an act of love and courage because some of these young people may never have heard the Gospel before and Lynn's preaching it might have been a good work prepared in advance for the salvation of someone's soul.

    2. It boils down to sodomy and other sexual sin. You can say it's none of our business, but such things have become public and widespread, in things like television and the internet, and then we dare say "it's private" If I said, in this forum, that all Jews and homosexuals should be shot or gassed, there would be an outrage at such a "public" forum, but if I talk about how sodomy is wrong, it's suddenly none of my business, or my own opinion.

      If I were a Christian, and I'm not ashamed of my God, then I am not ashamed of what He taught and to follow His example. Jesus, who is cosubstantial with His Father, would have taught as a Jew the sin of Sodomy and other sexual sins that distances man from His God.

      Indeed, we are fallen, and humanity, though good by virtue of God's creation of humanity, we understand that homosexual tendencies can occur, and those afflicted by this cannot be treated without compassion, but then those who revel and celebrate sodomy and sexual immorality, they certainly are not normal.

      Can you imagine the sort of society that is rampant with permissiveness with regards to sexual morality? Only primitive tribes, or decadent, decaying civilizations on its way to self-destruction have such characteristics.

  6. If one wants to go somewhere where young people have never heard the Gospel there is no shortage of locations. Ditto if one one wants to go where sinners are congregated in large numbers.

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