False Prophets: Matthew24Ministires

A Disclaimer: I do not speak as a representative of Kutztown University, nor do I speak for the larger school of thought known as Christianity. The below article contains my personal beliefs in comparison to my experiences, and do not express the direct beliefs of any involved parties. The article also mentions suicide: please read with caution.  All biblical quotes are taken from the Zondervan NIV Study Bible.

 

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I was raised in a religious family. My family followed the Catholic faith for decades before becoming born-again Evangelical Christians. There are a lot of assumptions based around that word, Evangelical. For many, it provokes fear—associated with conservatives and republicans—labels that have become short hand for bigot, sexist, and homophobe.

This is the image portrayed by Matthew 24 Ministries, a group of fundamental “Christians" that frequent college campuses in the North-East area of Pennsylvania. But this image isn’t true Christianity. I’ve seen and lived with true Christians and am honored to know and be loved by these people. Matthew 24 Ministries evokes nothing but anger in my heart, and their on-campus visits routinely leave me in anxiety attacks worrying about my place in the world and if I should even exist in it at all.

In the last few years, Matthew 24 Ministries has been busy visiting numerous college campuses: West Chester, Temple, Reading Area Community College, and yes—here at Kutztown. Their name, Matthew 24 Ministries, refers to the Book of Mathew, Chapter 24, in which Jesus foretells the end of the world and the terrible things that will happen before his second coming. Matthew 24 Ministries appropriated this chapter to use it as an identifier of the suffering and retribution “deserved” by sinners. Their interpretation is their business, and they certainly don’t deserve any attention while on campus. I feel the need to say something, however, because their primary message is one of hate, not unlike the Westboro Baptist Church.

While on campus, they advocated for the following people to kill themselves:

  • Women who have had abortions
  • Women who wear tank tops/shorts
  • Unwed mothers
  • People who cut themselves/have a mental illness
  • People of other religions
  • Black people
  • Queer people
  • People who had sex outside of marriage, even if it wasn’t consensual

For people who preach about the sanctity of life, they have no problem encouraging strangers to harm themselves. These sorts of emotionally deplorable attacks are reminiscent of the ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons of the past that also sought to use fear to illicit conversions. The reason ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons fell out of fashion, although I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed the theatrics, is because fear-based conversions aren’t the goal for most Christians nor the goal of Jesus Christ. The inflamitory language, use of racial slurs and agressive ploys are no more than viral video, attention-grabbing tactics. They don’t stand for Christianity.

In spreading their message on college campuses, they’re reinforcing the terrible ideas progressive people have about religion. Their holier-than-thou attitude is completely off-base considering modern Christianity recognizes that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). My relationship with religion, especially Christianity, is complicated. This group slanders the faith of so many of my friends and family who have done nothing but love and support the people in their lives: including women, including queer people, including nonbelievers— sinners.

The word of the Christian God is compassion, love, forgiveness, and support for all people, not just the ones you ‘agree’ with. When I came out as bisexual in winter of my freshman year of high school, I was afraid of being alone, of being shunned and abused like so many others. I was met with love and as much understanding that was possible. Although my life and identity has changed, that love and support is unwavering. None of them see me as an abhorrent mistake, unlike the Mathew24 group whose representatives exclaimed  that “[the previously mentioned group of people] should kill themselves already.” They've also been documented as telling people they're "suicide notes in the making." Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, and students shouldn't be bombarded with encouragement towards self-harm when on campus.

From experience, I know I can’t change people’s beliefs with logic or appeals at empathy, especially where there seems to be none. So, I’ll let the Bible speak for itself: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35