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Speaker draws embittered crowd

Nathaniel+Runnels%2C+preaching+to+a+large+crowd+of+engaging+students.+
Nathaniel Runnels, preaching to a large crowd of engaging students.

Nathaniel Runnels, preaching to a large crowd of engaging students.

Lizette Chavez

Lizette Chavez

Nathaniel Runnels, preaching to a large crowd of engaging students.

Megan Fenwick, Reporter

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A large crowd of students was drawn around a religious speaker at Bakersfield College on Feb. 8. Nathaniel Runnels, 25, faced largely negative reactions from those listening to his message, which included offensive remarks, condemned members of other religions to hell, and blamed women for being raped.

Many students attempted to reason with Runnels amid the shouts exchanged between himself and the enraged audience. While a woman was expressing her opinion, Runnels dismissed her by saying, “Do not listen to emotional women.”

One Christian student named Shanel Dillard asked him questions about evolution and fossil evidence. “You can go about it without hate. And he uses the hateful way, calling everybody who doesn’t believe in his way a sinner, but we all have our different perceptions. Even when you’re trying to have a nice conversation with him, he comes off as aggressive,” she said.

“How many of you are Muslim? You are all going to hell,” Runnels said, provoking outcry from those gathered.

Larence Froese, another member of Calvary Chapel Bakersfield who held a sign next to Runnels, believed that their incendiary approach to preaching was successful because of how many people had gathered to listen, despite how unfavorable the response from the crowd was. “If you talked quietly, there’d be two or three,” he pointed out.

While many clearly disagreed with what Runnels was preaching, their opinions on whether he should be allowed to preach on campus were more complicated.

“On the one hand, he does have the right to say what he wants to say, but also it’s distracting us from when we actually need to focus on our education,” said someone who wished to stay anonymous. Another student, Jason Gossage, said, “If you’re trying to incite a riot, that’s not good, but if you have your own booth and you’re quiet it’s perfectly fine. This guy definitely needs to not be on campus.” Gossage did, however, express worry that banning a religious speaker would set a dangerous precedent for free speech and other religious speakers on BC’s campus.

At one point, employees of BC’s Department of Public Safety had to step in to drive the crowd back after it had pushed too close to Runnels.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Speaker draws embittered crowd”

  1. MichaEL Anthony de Tomaso on March 8th, 2017 1:40 am

    There were many questions put forth by the assembly which the speaker felt that he did not have to answer, either that or he did not have an answer, which is in opposition to a NT understanding of ‘the message’ and it’s delivery to all those who have come for the thrill of a Mars Hill moment and the words of 1 Peter 3:15 ~ HCSB ~ “but honor the Messiah as Master in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you”.

    Another unanswered question was the inquiry from Proverbs 30:4 ~ New International Version (NIV) ~

    30:4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
    Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
    Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
    What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
    Surely you know!

    At which point the sign bearers chimed in with the correct answers, Yahweh said the one and the other admitted Yahshua, then held their peace. Meanwhile, in this Google age a good percentage of the on lookers, began to surf for the text from various sources with their cell phones. What an age we live in, no?

    Then again upon a much simpler inquiry of which is ‘The First Commandment with Great Promise’, Runnels, paused and came back with his standard MO, of plausible deniability, but when the crowds demand letter was put forth again, he had an epiphany as he was directed to Exodus 20 and mumbled out the first of ten. Not wanting to further embarrass himself stopped short, knowing full well that by the time he got to the forth, he would have been as fried as a chicharron snack.

    In conclusion, the moral to the story is, “If you are not ready, don’t preach”, which might start at 30 something rabbinically speaking. Even the Master had to wait as long to begin His ministry. So one could only hope that Luke 2:40 “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” will prevail within his life.

    Next time, try Love, cause any YAHoo knows that: “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”

    – shalom MichaEL Anthony de Tomaso

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Speaker draws embittered crowd