Atheist Undergrad to Christian Pastor: Don’t Be a Dick

A student at St. Cloud State University protests the preaching of John Chisham on campus on April 23, 2013. (Photo by Molly English)

When I first arrived on the campus of St. Cloud State University in January to teach Introduction to the New Testament, a couple of the students mentioned the preachers who come to campus. It seems that, as a Christian minister myself, they thought I should know how Christians are seen on campus.

Last Thursday, as class was about to begin, they asked if I’d been around the previous day to see the traveling preachers make their annual appearance. I hadn’t, so one student began showing me photos she’d taken on her phone.

You can imagine my surprise when I recognized one of the preachers: John Chisham, aka, “Pastorboy.”

Longtime readers will remember Pastorboy. He used to comment on this blog regularly (he was banned from commenting by me in 2009), and to post about me and others on his various blogs. He allowed me to interview him on video when my book, The New Christians, was coming out. And he was the lone protestor outside of JoPa’s event, Christianity21 – we had 21 women preachers speak at that conference, and he preached 21 sermons on the sidewalk outside (since, of course, women are not capable of preaching the gospel in his twisted theology).

Chisham is a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) pastor in Marshall, Minnesota at River of Life Alliance Church. But he regularly travels to preach his hate-filled “gospel” message at gay pride parades and college campuses. The StarTribune covered him at a gay pride parade here, and when he preached at Mankato State University in 2010, a bunch of students took him up on his invitation for them to come to his church — they came, and stood silently in front of the church bearing signs of their own. Of course, Chisham did not take this in stride but called on the university to sanction the professor who advised them.

As you see in the photo above, and the uncropped version below, this year the students at St. Cloud State also fought back against his hate. [Read more…]

Pastorboy Embarrasses Minnesota (Again)

photo by David Joles, Star Tribune

My long-time nemesis, John “Pastorboy” Chisham, made the news here in the north land for out-assholing free-Bible-guy Brian Johnson at Twin Cities Pride last weekend.

Chisham and I used to be able to chat personably and agree-to-disagree, as you can see in the video below.  He had garnered a reputation as a tough-but-fair member of the “online discernmentalist mafia.” He is also a clergyperson in good standing in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a denomination that I think would be embarrassed by his antics.

But as time has elapsed, Chisham has spun out of control.  He’s written things online that are patently untrue and he’s crossed the line from civil public disagreement to offensive personal attacks.  His weekend stunt at Pride was only his most recent attempt to garner attention.  Last fall, he put out an online call for like-minded preachers to join him outside of the JoPa event, Christianity21 — at which 21 women preachers were highlighted — to proclaim 21 alternative sermons.  Not one person joined him.  Instead, he stood behind a shrub and recited Bible verses, and, as far as I could tell, not one participant at Christianity21 even knew he was there.

I realize that bringing attention to him here is a double-edged sword.  Like kicking an hornets’ nest, I imagine that he will temporarily increase his attacks on me now.  So be it.

Because the moral of the story comes at the end of this paragraph in the StarTribune story:

Another protester at Saturday’s event, John Chisham of Marshall, Minn., attracted far more attention than the Johnsons as he stood on a box with a sign that read “You are an abomination to God, You justify the wicked,” preaching to a jeering crowd. Chisham attracted shouts of disapproval and arguments from passersby. Eventually, Pride attendees stood in front of him with signs that read, “Standing on the Side of Love.”

Yes, that seems like the best possible response.

[Read more…]

What I Love about the Internet(s)

Where can a philosophy professor at Yale have a thoughtful, civil conversation with a rural, conservative evangelical church planter?