Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Traveling Preacher “I love you hell-bound sinners”

By: Annie Porembski

Other preachers call him an Open Air Bible Thumper. Brother Micah Armstrong and his wife Sister Elizabeth are traveling preachers who tour university campuses. Bibles in hand, they lecture students and spread the word of God, and this week they are here. Armstrong considers himself a Christian, but does not practice a specific religion.
“I just want to teach the bible,” he said.

Armstrong stood on College Green Tuesday amidst a gathering of listeners, singing his widely known “It’s Not Okay to be Gay” song to a crowd of around 30.

Watch Brother Armstrong singing “It’s Not Okay to be Gay.”

“I think he's making false accusation based on his beliefs,” said observer Matt Henterly. “He’s not taking into consideration anything that we stand for and believe.”
“I don't think anyone's perfect, said Cierra Waller, another listener in the crowd. “I think everybody sins and everybody has their own religious beliefs, but he's saying this is what it is and if you're not living like this, you're going to hell.”

Pastor Jeff Bartlett is an interim pastor at Athens First Christian Church, located on North Congress Street. Bartlett said he has never seen Armstrong in action, but believes that there are various ways of interpreting the bible.

“There’s a lot of a different method of addressing some of the same topics,” said Bartlett. “My methodology is not making judgements. Here's an opportunity to jump on another person who's teaching or preaching another way. I guess in some ways, if there is not a physical threat, I'm not too threatened by it."

Though Bartlett doesn't completely agree with Armstrong's beliefs, he says that something like this gets people thinking and creating discussion amongst people is a positive piece.

See the Full Interview with Pastor Jeff Bartlett of Athens First Christian Church

But it’s Free Speech…

“I completely believe in free speech,” said Henterly. “But I don't believe in public condemnation of innocent people.”

See Matt Henterly and Cierra Waller talking about Brother Micah

The university campus has a policy for the Use of Outdoor Space on the Athens Campus. Currently there are no restrictions for free speech on the college green area where Armstrong and his wife post are preaching this week.

“I think in a lot of ways, freedom of speech does not necessarily mean that insult is illegal,” said Bartlett.

More of Armstrong on College Green

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