Born-again Christians in ruckus


POSTED: Friday, March 06, 2009

A mainland group of born-again Christians shouted a message of hellfire for homosexuals and others for five hours yesterday as University of Hawaii students shouted back.

The group called it “;preaching,”; but their finger-pointing, name-calling and condemnation angered even Christians at the open-air Campus Center steps on the UH-Manoa campus.

“;They started making personal attacks on people's culture,”; said Ann Clarke, 18. One of the “;preachers”; told a Korean student that he is going to hell for his Buddhist beliefs and told Hawaiians they are going to hell because they worship false gods and believe in witchcraft, she said.

At its lunchtime peak, Bema Ministries (also known as Cry to God Ministries) drew a crowd of about 500 yesterday, said UH-Manoa Campus Security Chief Neal Sakamoto. The sharp words provoked one student to allegedly knock a video camera out of the hands of one of the preachers. Police arrested him on suspicion of second-degree criminal property damage.

The group drew a large crowd Wednesday but was asked to leave because it did not have a permit, Sakamoto said.

Ka Leo, the UH-Manoa student newspaper, reported that campus security was called after a confrontation occurred between a preacher and an elderly woman Wednesday.

The group returned yesterday with a permit and remained from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Bema Ministries is probably the most controversial group to get such a large crowd so heated up, as far as Sakamoto could recall.

One young woman stomped off after a preacher called her a whore.

Another student, Tioni Tam Sing, 21, who was modestly dressed, said, “;He doesn't know that I'm a Christian, but just because I'm wearing a sweater and jeans, he called me a sinner.”;

“;You can't be a Sodomite,”; one preacher shouted at the crowd. “;You can't sin and go to heaven. ... You're going to hell.”;

One student yelled, “;Why are you able to judge us? Only God can judge us,”; adding that it is a sin to judge. The crowd then began chanting, “;Sinner, sinner!”;

Some watched the exchanges in amusement, calling the preachers great actors.

Others, like Kari Gomes, 20, were appalled. “;They're promoting hate,”; she said. “;This is like the KKK.”;

Bema member Steve Koth, 46, called the shouting “;preaching the gospel”; in the manner of Jesus as he did before thousands.

He said homosexuals are just one of many types of sinners who will “;end up in the lake of fire unless they repent.”;