By JR on Tuesday, July 03, 2012
I can't find it in my copy of the Constitution. It's possible to do street preaching in a polite and considerate way. The Salvation Army used to do it in my home town and I would often stop a while to listen to the preaching and enjoy the hymns. Shouting at people through a bullhorn doesn't sound like Christian meekness at all to me
It's Friday night in downtown Gainesville and the intersection of Southeast Second Avenue and Southeast First Street is a hub of activity.
Pedestrians stream along crosswalks on their to way to have dinner, get a cocktail or see a play. At restaurants and bars along the street, customers take to patio seating to enjoy the evening.
And, on the southwest corner of the intersection, members of the Dove World Outreach Center take turns at a bullhorn, bellowing diatribes against homosexuals, the religion of Islam, President Barack Obama and Christian churches that preach tolerance.
Over the last few years, members of the controversial Dove World, 5805 NW 37th St., have gained infamy, at one point on an international scale. They have sent their children to school with shirts bearing the message “Islam is of the devil,” burned the Quran and sparked furor in the Middle East, and, most recently, hanged an effigy of Obama.
For the last several months, they have targeted downtown Gainesville when it is at its busiest. They have called themselves the Warriors of Christ and claimed, at first, to have no connection to Dove World.
Some local restaurant and store owners say the vocal and hateful protests are putting a significant dent in business.
“It clears out my outside patio. Nobody wants to sit out there and listen to this,” said Shawn Shepherd, the owner of Vellos Brickstreet Grill and the president of the Gainesville Downtown Owners and Tenants Association.
“I believe in First Amendment rights, but to just badger people and scream at them, it doesn't make much sense.”