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Roswell church fight

A couple of Sundays ago street preachers from one Roswell church got into a fight outside with pastoral staff of another Roswell church. The Albuquerque Journal put together a summary of television news stories [link]; they describe the street preachers as “religious protesters” from Roswell’s downtown fundamentalist KJV-Only Old Paths Baptist Church (OPBC) [link] who got in a fight with pastors from suburban nondenominational Church on the Move Roswell (COTM) [link] after visiting a Roman Catholic church and a Kingdom Hall the previous day.

A quick visit to the websites of the two churches suggests among other things that the group from Old Paths were more street preachers than protesters. In fact they’re a pretty vanilla fundamentalist independent Baptist church in a lot of ways (pre-trib, KJV-only, cessationist, etc.), except for their commitment to “confrontational street preaching.” On this score their apparent affiliation with the author of a street preaching blog [link] suggests to me that they’re sort of in the Fred Phelps mode of confrontational self-styled Old Testament prophets. Or something like that. The Old Paths head pastor, Joshua De Los Santos, became a Christian five-plus years ago through a jail ministry and lists several street preaching association events as part of his 2010 calendar. They list a physical address downtown; I can’t find anything at that address on Google Street View, but that probably just means they’re renting their building. Their mailing address is a Post Office box.

Church on the Move, by way of contrast, has a big building with two services on Sunday mornings, seven or eight pastors on staff, and educational connections to Oral Roberts University and Vision International University [link]; the former, of course, has Pentecostal ties, while the latter has a somewhat complicated accreditation history.

The news reports suggest that the OPBC men were the aggressors; the blog article above suggests the COTM men were mostly to blame:

So Brother Jeremy went out to ‘love thy neighbor’ Sunday morning, 1John 3:18 style and later stood in front of a non denominational church where the pastor and elders came out swinging. The religious brass of this church manifested with cussing as they tried to move the Street Preachers off the sidewalk. Police were called in and after only getting information from the Church, arrested the 3 Street Preachers (Jeremy, Justin and Caesar) for assault and disturbing a religious meeting, the Church service started at 9AM and they were arrested at 8:40AM. How in the Gehenna did they interrupt a religious service?
One member from the church was also arrested after he came out swinging a bat. This was all on video tape; however the police department took the video camera and cell phones as evidence. Oh, did I mention that several officers attend this particular church?

I have to hope that this is not the shape of things to come in Fundamentalist-Pentecostal ah interfaith relations; I have assumed that the loud, angry, sign-waving street preachers, including the Westboro Baptist Church crowd, are savvy enough to know that violence isn’t in their best interest. I mean, WBC claims some 30,000 protests [link], and to my knowledge they’ve never been involved in a dust-up that included someone “swinging a bat.”

  1. J
    December 17, 2011 at 6:43 am

    ……..and this is how we show Christs love……come on people! Wake up! We dont have much longer.

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