by Liam Adams ‘17
Every Oct. 31, thousands of people pilgrimage to Salem, MA to celebrate the hallowed day. This year, in addition to the regular costumes of the lochness, goblin, ghoul and zombie, there were those dressed as Christian evangelists with picket signs and bullhorns. In actuality, these evangelists were not wearing costumes, but were real Christians trying to convert other Salem visitors.
This past Monday night, members of the Reformed Baptist Christian Church staked positions in multiple locations in Salem in order to preach the Bible and convert people into their Reformed Baptist Tradition. Some evangelists held signs that read, “What will you do with your sin on Judgment Day” or “LOVE.” On many of these signs, the URL provided at the bottom was “Youaresinners.com.” Meanwhile, another one of these evangelists stood on a milk crate with a Bible in one hand and a bullhorn in the other.
As these preachers were attempting to engage with the audience, some members of the crowd responded in a contentious manner. Some audience members would debate with an evangelist, while other visitors yelled at the preachers.
One of these disgruntled visitors was Alec, who was dressed as Wayne Gretzky. Alec commented on the evangelists, saying, “They’re preaching love each other and all that bullshit, but they’re not. They’re just reading the Bible quotes they want and being spiteful towards us. How is that going to make me want to be a Christian?”
Alec’s expression of frustration against the preachers manifested most explicitly when he firmly stood in front of the preachers, calling them different names and flipping them off.
After stepping down from the preacher’s milk crate, one of the evangelists said that the Reformed Baptist group had not been warmly received by the audience in Salem. The evangelist, Ryan Ditton, discussed the evangelists’ purpose in Salem, saying, “We try to love them. Try to show them the love of Christ and tell them, look man, apart from the grace of God, we do the same thing. We don’t come out here because we think we’re better than anybody else, we don’t feel like self-righteous people.”
Even though Ditton stated that the evangelists were trying to preach about love, their message was interpreted differently from many members of the audience. There were only a few members of the audience who prayed with and listened to the evangelists. The rest of the crowd acted in protest. In fact, there was a group of people who chanted “Hail Satan” as they walked, either in protest or as an effort to mock the evangelists.