CCP Students Promised “Hellfire” by Extremist Group

Amanda Cintron, Editor-In-Chief

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On the afternoon of Friday, March 17, an extremist Christian group made its way to CCP’s main campus, spreading hateful messages, resulting in stu­dent backlash and even the arrest of a CCP student. The group, who calls themselves “Christian Interviews,” has made its way to other local campuses in the past several weeks including Temple Uni­versity and Bucks County Community College. When the group first showed up to the front of the Winnet Building, curious CCP stu­dents gathered around the group to get a glimpse of their vulgar banner that read “Warning: Homos, whores, porno freaks, m—–bators, money lovers, witches, liars, Muslims, druggies, sissies, The Pope, ankle biters, gang­sters, whore monger’s; obey Jesus or hellfire!” In case the slurs weren’t incendiary enough, at the top of their towering banner of hate, was an American flag.

Throughout the crowd there were chuckles at the extensive list of sinners, particularly “money lovers” and “witches.” While other students seemed confused and appalled to see that Muslims and The Pope were on this group’s “hellfire” list. Students were also shocked to see young children wear­ing shirts that read “no porn” and holding signs that read “homosexuals end up in hell fire.” One of the children in the group was shouting at CCP students calling them “perverts” and “sissies”.

After the initial shock wore off in the crowd, the agitated crowd began shouting back. As the leader of this group, who refers to himself as “Pastor Aden”, told CCP students that they were being brain­washed by going to college, students began to shout and heckle the speaker. The speaker made derogatory remarks about Muslim and Jewish students saying that they were “following a false prophet.” Aden also asked one female student ques­tions about her sexuality while making lewd assump­tions about her sexual prac­tices.

Some students were arguing with members of this group while others encouraged people to stop giving them attention. At one point a Muslim student who was verbally attacked by the group began playing his guitar to drown out their hateful messages. When one CCP student asked Aden why he feels the need to preach hate rather than live in peace and the speaker’s response was; “I’m preach­ing just like Jesus did.” Another CCP student told the one woman in the group who was holding a sign that read “homosexuals go to hell fire” that she wanted to show them love even if they didn’t agree with her. This student was pushed away and ended up being elbowed in the face.

After about thirty minutes, the tension thick­ened as one student threw a snowball at the speaker of the group. The snowball hit a child that was part of the group, without causing any injury. Within seconds the student who launched the snowball was handcuffed by Philadelphia Police. In the midst of this uproar, an on­looker from a car on N.17th Street caused a fender-bend­er while catching glimpse of the commotion. Once the student was put in the police car, the group was told by the police that they should leave along with police. The group immediately gathered their signs and camera and made their way off campus, in the shield of Philadelphia Police.

Computer Science major, Jonathan Adams, spoke with the Vanguard about the incident; “They told us we were all going to hell and that college was brainwashing us. The leader kept stroking the students’ anger with insults and hate. The crowd was pretty ag­gravated as they watched one student get arrested. Philadelphia police and CCP security urged them to leave as the bike cop’s left. As they left, students shouted for them to leave and not come back!”

After looking into this he group, it is clear that what they really enjoy is hav­ing an audience. They show up to concerts bearing signs that read “rock ‘n’ roll damn your soul”, at colleges to try to recruit members, and at retailers such as Target and Planet Fitness who support laws they disagree with, such as transgender bathroom rights. This group does not have the slightest bit of tol­erance for other cultures and religions.

In order to achieve religious tolerance, groups must engage in civil and respectful dialogue. Con­versely, it takes more than religious tolerance to truly live in harmony with people who practice other religions. CCP’s associate professor of Philosophy, Osvil Acosta- Morales, who held the semi­nar, “Religious Tolerance is Not a Virtue”, presented by CCP’s department of his­tory, philosophy, and reli­gious study, explains the fact that religious tolerance is not enough. “Tolerance is often offered as something praise­worthy that we all ought to strive for in our lives. This is especially true today when it comes to religious tolerance. And when presented with tolerance or intolerance as our only choices, it seems immoral (and foolish) to say, ‘I choose intolerance.’ However, if we take another careful look at what it means to tolerate someone or something, we might not be so quick to pat ourselves on the back for being tolerant of others, and their be­liefs, and their way of life.” Groups such as Christian Interviews fall short at even basic respect, which is even more basic and fundamental than tolerance.

For many CCP students, this was their first time seeing a hate group in action. The reality is, Penn­sylvania is ranked the sixth highest state to have active hate groups. Hate groups such as the one that visited CCP thrive off of fear and outrage from those who disagree with them. These groups stand behind the fact that America fever­ishly protects the practice of refiligion, even when the practices may be objectively interpreted as ridiculous and offensive. As long as it doesn’t rise to the level of “hate speech”, it’s constitu­tionally protected. There­fore, this group has the religious freedom to publicly exercise their religion and “peacefully” assemble, but unfortunately choose not to cherish other democratic freedoms such as the right to practice or abstain from religion. Similar to terrorist groups such as ISIS, Chris­tian Interviews takes religion and distorts it to propel hos­tility against those who hold opposing views. They spread hate and xenophobia rather than focusing on the beauty of diversity. They chose to come to CCP because they knew that a community college in one of America’s most diverse cities would give them an antagonistic audience, which would give them footage of “violent sinners” to upload to their website. If they should re­turn to CCP, it is important that we turn our backs to their hate.

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CCP Students Promised “Hellfire” by Extremist Group