This year, at the Presbyterian General Assembly, LGBTQ people & allies of the upcoming generation will claim their birthright at members of a just & inclusive church.

27 June 2008

Hate Group Accosts Presbyterians at General Assembly

San Jose, CA—Carrying signs and shouting epithets such as "Jesus hates you" and "All Presbyterians will burn in hell," a hate group accosted dozens of participants in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)'s General Assembly at the San Jose Convention Center Wednesday night.

The group arrived a day after the denomination's committee recommendation to the Assembly to delete G-6.0106(b), a clause that excludes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons in relationships from being ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament.

The group brought large signs declaring, "Homosexuality is a Threat to National Security," and positioned themselves on the plaza outside the Convention Center. Presbyterian commissioners (voting delegates), youth delegates, and other participants in the Assembly were returning from a supper break when the incident occurred.

In response, members of New Church (R)evolution (NCR), a young adult program of That All May Freely Serve, formed a nonviolent counter-witness by kneeling in a line in front of the protestors and praying and singing about God's love for all people. NCR members also offered freshly-baked cookies to comfort Presbyterians who were distressed at the behavior of the protestors.

A male protestor who appeared to be leading the group shouted obscenities at the women kneeling. After several more statements such as these, a young woman kneeling with the group broke down in tears. One of the protestors shouted at her, "You'll be crying when you're burning in hell!" Later, another young woman observing the group also broke down in tears as the man began to harangue her also. NCR members counseled the women and escorted them away from the man.

The group's signs advertised that they belonged to Bema Ministries. According to Bema's website (, they are "a husband and wife evangelism team…..[intending to] publicly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, mostly on college campuses and at large events such as the Super Bowl, Mardi-Gras, Fantasy Fest, and the like." A photo on their site shows two of the group members who were present at the Convention Center incident smiling and wearing t-shirts saying, "Only Jesus Christ the Messiah can save you from burning in Hell!"

Later in the evening, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, the administrative head of the PCUSA, advised the Assembly that the police had been called to intervene with the protestors because their behavior had "offended and concerned" many members of the Assembly. However, he explained, the police could not intervene further since the protestors were on the sidewalk and not on public property.

New Church (R)evolution plans to continue being a nonviolent presence in response to the Bema group throughout the Assembly as needed.

For photos and more details, please visit

By Le Anne Clausen
June 26, 2008

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