For Extreme Evangelical Street Preachers, Shouting Controversial Sermons Is a Family Affair


When they aren't out preaching, the LaVelle family lives a quiet life. There is no television in their house and all of the children are home-schooled. The day's rituals are a seamless patchwork of school and Bible study. Field trips often turn into street preaching events.

Jonah LaVelle, 15, is a fierce preacher despite his small size, although he admitted that preaching can be scary sometimes.

"They curse at us and call us all sorts of names, but that doesn't bother me because the Bible says they will do that," Jonah said, adding that people reject his family's preaching, saying, "because they hate God and they hate God's people."

While the family has a right to express their opinions, their critics wonder if it is right to expose young children to their preaching style. Some of Spokane's religious leaders worry that what the LaVelles are doing isn't just free speech, it's dangerous.

Andy Castrolang, a senior pastor for the Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, said the street preachers often target her church because it welcomes members of the gay and lesbian community.

"I feel for the children who are with them," Castrolang said. "They are shouting a message that's cruel and hateful that drives people away from Christianity."

Nonetheless, these messengers, young and old, are filled with the confidence that people shouldn't be angry with them, they should be thanking them.

When Susanna made her preaching debut outside of the arena, she was anxious to be a part of this. But while her message didn't seem to register with the basketball fans, it sent waves of joy through her parents.

"Heaven's rejoicing," her father told her. "Heaven is rejoicing for you, sweety."

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