A selection of signs and sounds from the street preachers at this year’s Bele Chere festival in downtown Asheville, NC. Music is “Amazing Grace / House of the Rising Sun” performed by Sarah Sanders, Liz Acker, Jason Aspinwall and Matt Tillough for the Busk Break project.
Thanks for reading through to the end…
We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.
We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.
The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.
38 thoughts on “Video: Bele Chere 2011 street preachers”
That clips got enough hell fire and damnation to last me all year. I feel dutifully chaastised for living in Sodom and Gamorrhea.
Question: Can just anyone carry around amplified sound equipment during Bele Chere? Why do we see only christian street preachers with megaphones and such? Do they get some special privilege license from the City of Asheville to amplify their harangues?
Thank you for showing this video. I had plans to go to Bele Chere this year, but now I know to avoid it. My idea of enjoyment is NOT having a bunch of ignorant, hate-mongering people screaming at me. I don’t force my beliefs on others, I expect others not to try to force their beliefs down my throat.
To answer part of your question, Betty:
I think the reason we see only christian street preachers with megaphones is because they are so insecure that they feel they have to scream, harrass, and try to scare people to get anyone to join their religion or adopt their beliefs. They are so ignorant, that they fail to see that it has the opposite effect.
Why Bele Chere allows it is beyond me, but they’ve lost me as an attendee because of it.
I agree Betty … they are very aggressive and rude … guess that is what christians are all about!
Was anyone on the corner yelling about job creation by our politicians? Health Care for all? Saving our social net from the teeth of the greedy?
Nah… We only need to be “saved” (from our politicians and the oligarchs who run this country).
I thought an attempt had been made to keep the religious zealots from behaving like this during the festival.
As I remember there was a permitting process discussed that would have made the deadline and entry fee for participating with a “public address system” several months before the festival so that would keep these nuts from broadcasting – unless they had the forethought to sign-up well in advance.
I’m a native of Asheville and I can’t stand this festival for various reasons, this being one of them. This year was the first year I went in about 8 years. I had a friend who just moved to Asheville a short while ago who wanted to go. I was quickly reminded of why I never go what with the militant preachers, local foods and beer marked up 200%, and hordes of rude 20-something tourists. Asheville is a great town, please come visit, but not during this piece of crap excuse for a street festival.
Does anybody find it ironic that the guy with the “I heart Satan” Tshirt front and the “Jesus Hates You” on the back got arrested and dragged off by the Asheville Police? Didn’t see what he did unfortunately but he wasn’t happy about it. The crowd applauded tho as he was hauled off…
How kind of God to warn the lost people at Bele Chere to repent & trust in His Son before they die & it is too late. Why would anyone NOT want peace with God?
Why would anyone NOT want peace with God?
Most likely, everyone wants peace with God, but not with those crazy arrogant street preachers.
It depends on what their definition of “God” is. The street preachers version is not my definition of “God.”
I find it insulting and presumptious of them to even suggest they have my, or anyone in the crowds best interest at heart…instead they appear to be all about power.
Nor does my God fit any remote definition of theirs.
They can’t give you a definition of even their own God (I have asked them), except in a context of power, masculinity, superiority, and abuse.
And fear. They’re big on fear.
Did these guys ever get passed the old testament? They might be surprised by some of the crazy love stuff jeeb’s talks about in part two.
Betty, we should really do lunch…we have so much in common. <;-)
Magnolia, I actually had signs made up sandwich-board style with hinges to flip over depending on the particular scene and with arrows to point to the particular preaching context (homophobic, burn in hell, etc.)–slogans like “FUCK THIS PREACHER” and “BURN THIS IDIOT” and such–but I wimped out because of the weather. ( I like to fully enjoy my protestations, or else I just can’t put my heart into it.)
Next year, eh? We’ll assault those bastards with our own verbiage, hopefully in cooler weather.
The winner this year, though, and the one who should get an award, is the silver-painted statue, the drummer girl who set up shop and drummed alongside one of the rabid preachers, drowning him out with her drumming, altogether a good marketing plan. I’d think she got loads of tips.
hopefully in cooler weather.[/i]
Yeah, i’m sure there will be a cool august one of these years..
I do not believe in god and these idiots blasting their crap are not helping anyone … they just look and act stupid …
To everyone who had to endure the vicious arrows from the ‘Spiritual Terrorists’ this past weekend, I want to sincerely apologize to you. As a co-leader in a church here in Asheville, I hate the thought that the Jesus represented to you through these people would be the one you associate with the man embodied in the Gospels. Our ministry tried our best to drown out their screams and remind any passer by that God does love you more than anything. Christ said that the world would know us by our love for one another – not our judgmental words. So please, if anyone desires to know the real Jesus, please do not look to this as your benchmark.
You Are Loved!
The god I believe in is the Creator of the Universe, the Great Mystery, non-human and non-gendered—not an anthropomorphic god such as the one the anthropocentric street preachers and their ilk have fabricated as a means to spew their venom and hatred, along with their contorted assurances of unconditional sadomasochistic god-love supposedly accessible only through their very own divinely informed pipeline.
Their god, in whose image humans are created, the preachers say, is, at best, male-gendered, judgmental, exclusionist, angry, cruel, arrogant, vindictive, punitive, homophobic, misogynistic, blue-eyed and English-speaking.
And if you don’t subject yourself to all that sadomasochism, or even, gasp, actually aspire to it and beg for it, well, it’s fire and brimstone for you, you ungrateful worm, so say the preachers.
Well Betty, I am so sorry that you feel that way. I’m not exactly sure I know the god you described above. The God I know is full of grace, mercy, truth, love, thoughtfulness & compassion. He remembers those who this world has forgotten and hears the cries of the oppressed. He watches over the widows and the orphans. He knows the number of hairs on our heads and keeps our tears bottled up. This God is the one who loved each individual on this earth enough that He would let his own son suffer grueling torture, public shame and a horrendous death all so that we could live in eternity with Him. I’m not exactly sure how such a god could be described as cruel, angry and exclusionist.
Like I said, I am sorry that how these street preachers characterized God left a bad taste in your mouth. All I can do is tell you who He truly is.
You are loved Betty! Don’t ever forget that.
@ Luke (anonymous poster): This God is the one who loved each individual on this earth enough that He would let his own son suffer grueling torture, public shame and a horrendous death all so that we could live in eternity with Him. I’m not exactly sure how such a god could be described as cruel, angry and exclusionist.
Do you, Luke, really not see anything wrong with this picture?
What if the God of the Universe is not human after all, and does not have human characteristics? What if God is a set of divine mathematical algorithms?
What if the paternalistic God of Abraham desert religions—Judaism, Christianity, Islam—are man-made constructs, filled historically and metaphorically with unconscionable subjection and brutalization of assorted disenfranchised groups, as is still the practice today, to varying degrees, by adherents of all three of those religions worldwide?
And you really lost me on He keeps our tears bottled up. What exactly does that mean? And do you have some examples of how He watches over the widows and the orphans?
“He keeps our tears bottled up. What exactly does that mean? “
Maybe they’re saved up in mason jars.
So it’s God who clogs my tear ducts? I’m honored.
Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to confuse you about the tear comment. That reference comes from Psalm 56:8. What it means is that there is a God in Heaven who knows you personally. He has seen every tear that you have shed and instead of letting it fall to the ground and simply be forgotten, He has bottled them up and counted them. It is supposed to be a comforting reminder that God has not forgotten anyone – that all of our pain and sufferings in this world don’t just go in vain.
Betty, to answer your ‘What If’ questions about who God truly is: I guess all I can say is that if God is only a mythical, man-made being then I’m not exactly sure what the purpose to anything is. In your example, then every man and woman shares the same fate as Hitler, Ted Bundy & Osama Bin Laden. Truth would be relative and no one person has a grasp on what is right and wrong. If that’s the world you choose to live in, I can’t make you live otherwise – it’s your life and you have free will to go whatever direction you choose. I guess my only question would be on what foundation do you rest the fate of your eternity? The fact is that while no one knows from personal witness, there can be only one truth to the existence and purpose of this world. Either God made us or He didn’t – and if there is a God then there can be only one God, not multiple gods with schizophrenic personalities.
I honestly did not intend to get into a debate on this forum (and am not do it anonymously – ‘Hi, I’m Luke’). All I wanted you to know what who God is according to the Bible. He is the embodiment of love. As it’s said in a famous sermon (after giving a 7 minute Bible-based description of God), “I wish I could describe Him to you.”
As for examples of caring for widows & orphans, the book of James says that ‘True religion is to care for the widows and orphans’ (notice he did not say shout at people on streets). This world is filled with men and women who have given their lives to go live sacrificially throughout the world to care for those who are in need in Jesus name. A simple google search can show you that:
You Are Loved!
Luke, not to worry. You didn’t “confuse” me. Except for the bottled tears reference, I have heard it all many times before from many other people who cherry-pick the Torah, Bible, and Qur’an in order to perpetuate the three major paternalistic man-made Abrahamic “desert religions” of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all of which are cousins extolling the same God and all of which have assigned their own brand of “human” characteristics to that God that they cannot describe in any manner other than “human”—those characteristics always being in the context of masculine power, warfare, paternalism, superiority of themselves, subjugation of others, and abuse and exclusion of anyone who does not agree with them or who deviates from the male norm (women, LGTBQ, etc.)—without ever considering that the creation of the universe (past, present, future) might not be the handiwork of their one male human person God.
If you choose to look no further than your Christian Bible and even therein to limit yourself to the love and kindness parts, you are avoiding most of it. Actually, every statement you have made in this forum could have been taken almost word for word out of any play-book that reinforces the institutional hierarchical tyranny of numerous religious cult leaders who attribute their reasoning and actions to the God of Abraham, the latest of which are statements by Warren Jeffs in his current court trial.
Well Betty, I guess this is where we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. The simple fact is that Christ is alone in His claims to his divinity and that he clearly separated himself from the pack by making himself equal to God. He lived a sinless life, died a criminal’s death and was resurrected 3 days after being buried. His reappearance on earth was witnessed by hundreds and His disciples gave their lives (in the cruelest of ways) to spread His message of love and forgiveness throughout the ends of the earth. I’m sorry you choose not to believe that simple truth and instead find shelter in your own ‘man-made’ religious beliefs (ironic, huh?).
I obviously don’t have the education you have and I can’t confound people with big words and long sentences – I just wanted the reader of these posts to know the truth about God and His love for all mankind. I completely agree with you that love is not the only subject of the Bible. The story is ugly, brutal, bloody and exclusionary to those who wish to ignore it. The fact is that God is perfect. He is sinless and without blemish. To have ones sins removed requires the shedding of innocent blood – a price He ultimately chose to pay through the death of His son so that ANYONE could have relationship with Him. Again, I can’t think of an act so UN-exclusionary.
And also, I am not sure exactly where you end up thinking that God somehow sees men so superior to women. Throughout the Bible, women are held in the highest of regard. Simply because men and women have different roles does not make one superior to the other. God’s love would never exclude anyone who ‘deviates from the male norm.’ I certainly know that I would be nothing if it were not for the love and support of my wife. As the Bible says, I lay down my life for my wife as an act of love for her.
You can continue to mold your god into your own image all you like but it doesn’t make it true. What makes your beliefs about god any more certain than anyone else’s then? Truth is not relative, it is concrete. I only want you to know the truth about who God is.
Again Betty, believe what you want to believe. But don’t redefine the God who saved me (the chief of sinners) and has given me an abundant life, which I do not deserve.
I love your candor and your transparency in all of this. I hope you understand where I am coming from in trying to right the story of the falsehoods being spewed by the preachers who came this past weekend. You are welcome anytime at Exodus Church to continue hearing the story…
You Are Loved!
So where is Exodus Church? And what is its affiliation with any hierarchical institutional organization?
Yes, women are treated as equals in the Bible, except for that whole stoning to death for adultery, and religious leaders calling Mary Magdelene a whore.
Also, at the point you believe someone has a “role” based on their sexuality, you have already stereotyped and marginalized them. Women can fill the role of men, and vice versa.
Then there’s that “obedience” “Eve+apple+Adams downfall” women “put on earth to suffer,” thingy. For me, it’smainly the blind obedience issue that causes a lot of crazy stuff to happen behind closed doors.
Frankly I think the street preachers need to start chastising all the corruption and self serving going on in many churches…that is what drives away many people..
Betty, Exodus Church is a non-denominational church that meets at the Asheville Community Theater on Sundays at 10:00am.
Joe, what exactly happened to Mary Magdalene? I think you are missing the point between what the ‘Professional Religious’ did versus what the Lord did. Christ is the one who challenges us to look at our own sins before we are so quick to look at the sins of others. His life embodied grace and love. His desire was to come as a servant to all mankind and be the example of how we should live – as a sacrifice. Jesus said himself that he didn’t come for the healthy, he came for the sick. The religious leaders who wanted to stone Mary M. were so concerned with punishment that they missed their own need for forgiveness as well. This doesn’t excuse her sin, but it reminds us that we’re no better than anyone else.
Magnolia, I can’t even begin to try and disagree with you about what goes on in some institutional churches which not only drives people away from God, but can also prevent them from ever coming to a relationship with God. The list is too long. However, I personally do not want the actions of some “Christ followers” to be the representation of who Christ was. Yes, the street preachers would probably have been stoning Mary instead of lifting her up (What would Jesus do, indeed?) and telling her ‘I told you so’ as they did. But at the end of the day, Jesus is the benchmark and the plum line. No man will ever perfectly embody Him because we continue to sin and screw up. I sin every day and am constantly reminded of how much of a covering of grace I am in need of. Why would I in turn yell at those for committing the same sins I am guilty of? All I can do is share the story as best I can and pray that I never become a walking hypocrite.
I think that the posters on this forum have shown more class than the preachers could ever dare to show. I thank you for that. As I said before, I’m not anonymous and anyone who desires to understand more of the story can visit us. Ironically enough, the street preachers asked us to come visit our church (not sure why) and we told them they were not welcome.
Again, You are ALL Loved!
@ Luke Allison, Exodus Church, AVL Ironically enough, the street preachers asked us to come visit our church (not sure why) and we told them they were not welcome.
Well, if you asked them, they wouldn’t hesitate to tell you why in their perfectly clear brand of language!
The street preachers’ belief about homosexuality is why they dislike your organization. The street preachers think homosexuality is a sin that will condemn the person to hell for all eternity, while the mission of your Exodus International organization is that homosexuality is “curable through Christ” and that “liberation from homosexuality” is achievable through Christian counseling.
If you were here in the spring of this year, you would surely know about the backlash against the Exodus Conference that was held here, a joint effort by many local churches that support LGBTQ people being exactly who they are and not in need of being “cured through Christ.”
As far as is evident, whether or not homosexuality is an irredeemable sin or can be cured seems to be the only real difference between the messages being put out by Exodus and the street preachers–that and style of missionary presence, of course.
Shame on those people, and shame on anyone who feels it necessarry to push, or preach their religion outside of a place of worship. Shame. You should respect other people’s beliefs, keep religion to yourself. christ this and muslim that, yadda yadda yadda. Why all of the religious discussions on the boards? It’s such a cliche’. How rude and selfish people can be, I do not attend Bele Cher and I feel sorry for those people. I don’t stand on a corner yelling, “Vote for ……” oh yeah, I don’t vote.
Betty, we are not affiliated with Exodus International.
Luke, what is the purpose of the continual “you are loved” message at the end of most of your postings…who are you to be assuring others. Are you in direct communication with God? Does he speak to you, and not others? See for me you are coming of a condescending as all get out with this superior air of having special knowledge.
To me the “you are loved” is “bait” for deeply troubled people looking for refuge, and consequently very vulnerable to exploitation.
@ Luke Allison, Asheville Exodus Liberation Project: Betty, we are not affiliated with Exodus International.
Strange, since posters on the internets and locally consider you a “New Church Plant” for Exodus International. Is your Asheville Exodus Church Liberation Project a stand-alone group with no outside affiliation whatsoever? When did you open your church in the Asheville Community Theater? Where were you located before, or is this a brand new church?
@ Luke Allison: The street preachers asked us to come visit our church (not sure why) and we told them they were not welcome.
Why were the street preachers not welcome in your church?
@ Luke Allison: You Are Loved!? Luke. / You are loved Betty! Don’t ever forget that. / You Are Loved! / You Are Loved!? Luke. / Again, You are ALL Loved!? Luke.
By whom and how and why are we all so loved.? Everyone? Even people unbeknownst to you? Even street preachers?