This is the one hundred and twenty-fourth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is video clip of street preacher Tony Miano badgering a passerby.
Tony Miano is a bombastic, arrogant street evangelist associated with John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Miano’s direct oversight pastors are Mike Riccardi and a former friend of mine, Phil Johnson. Miano, a retired police officer and best buds with Ray Comfort, believes God has called him to be an open- air evangelist and itinerant preacher. A hardcore Calvinist, Miano makes no bones about the fact he considers the Arminianism preached in many Evangelical churches to be a false gospel. Miano, like his pastors John MacArthur and Ray Comfort, thinks he has the corner on the truth market. Those who believe differently are ignorant, poorly taught, or wicked, vile, unregenerate, reprobate atheists such as myself.
Last week, Miano took a group of 20 students from MacArthur’s The Master’s College to “minister” to women at Family Planning Associates in Mission Hills, California, a women’s health facility that performs abortions. Miano calls his abortuary work a ‘ministry of presence’. That’s right, a ministry of presence. In truth, it is a ministry of harassment, a ministry of forcing one’s religious beliefs on another. Miano, hoping to corrupt the minds of another generation of young Evangelicals, spent the day training The Master’s College students in the fine art of harassing women who came to the Family Planning Associates (FPA) for service and care. Here’s what Miano had to say:
The Lord has allowed a wonderful team of Christian men and women to form and to engage in loving people in action and truth, outside the Family Planning Associates abortuary, in Mission Hills, CA. Today the team and I were blessed beyond words to be joined by more than 20 students from The Master’s College.
This group of young adults was exceptional. Mature; submissive; teachable; respectful; servant-minded–and the list goes on. The students held signs and prayed. They effectively engaged in a ministry of presence.
A number of students, as well as regular members of the team, testified at the end of the morning of seeing people in cars, fitting the profile of those seeking to abort a child, making repeated passes by the abortuary, but never entering the parking lot. While tragically babies were murdered at the abortuary this morning, we left confident that the Lord used us to turn several abortive parents away–allowing unborn children to live for at least another day.
Note carefully what Miano said: the students were submissive, respectful, and teachable, Evangelical lingo for easily persuadable. Force-fed the pro-life lie and anti-Planned Parenthood talking points, these students were perfect candidates for Miano’s abortuary ministry. The students were taught by Miano the fine art of profiling a woman seeking an abortion and, applying their learning, succeeded in turning women away from getting needed health care. While Miano calls this a ministry of presence, it really is a legal means of harassing women under the guise of doing the Lord’s work. While Miano can report to his supporters that several babies got to live another day, numerous women turned away from FPA out of fear, not wanting to be accosted by the religious crazies in front of the facility.
Only in America do we allow fundamentalist religious zealots to stand between patients and their doctors when receiving medical care. Pro-life groups have carved out special legal exceptions that allow them to harass women and doctors, the same legal exceptions used by Westboro Baptist Church to harass the families of fallen soldiers. Whatever a person might believe about abortion, a woman should have the right to seek medical care without being harassed by God’s appointed agents of righteousness. If a person thinks abortion is murder, fine don’t have an abortion, but don’t impede those who think differently. Unfortunately, while abortion through the second trimester is still legal in every state, Republicans and Christian fundamentalists have worked to enact state laws that have made it increasingly hard to get an abortion, while at the same time refusing to support methods and practices that would drastically reduce the need for abortion. They will not rest until Roe v. Wade is overturned and women are once again forced to seek out illegal abortions. For those of us who think every woman has a right to control her own body and have an abortion if she desires one, we must continue to push back at laws and regulations that we know will only result in increased suffering and death.
People like Miano aren’t really as interested in saving life as much they are interested in being right. For pro-life Evangelicals, the most important issue is what the Bible supposedly says about life, death, and abortion and making sure that everyone, Evangelical or not, is forced to play by their interpretation of an ancient religious text written by unknown authors thousands of years ago. In what other medical realm do we allow such a text to hold weight? Its antiquity alone invalidates its message and medical worth. Since 88% of all abortions occur within the first trimester and 98.8% of abortions occur before viability, the issue is not really about the life of fetus as much as it is the continued attempt to control women and their reproduction. I wish more Americans would understand that the difference between zealots like Tony Miano and the Muslim fundamentalist in the Middle East is quite small. While in many places the Muslim has the force of the law and is able to regulate everything from what a woman wears to when she can and can’t have sex, the Mianos of the Christian world lack the force of law to compel women to live according to their puritanical laws and regulations. They continue to chip at the edges of the establishment clause and the separation of church and state, but make no mistake about it they’ll not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House. This is why we must continue to expose, fight, and push back. We must not rest until people understand that freedom of religion also means the freedom FROM religion, and a woman seeking an abortion has every right not to be harassed by a fundamentalist Christian abortuary ministry team and students from a fundamentalist Christian college. Perhaps, it is time to recognize that the first amendment needs some tweaking; that just like a person can’t shout FIRE in a crowded theater, neither should religious zealots be permitted to harass women seeking out medical care.
…a retired, twenty-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (1987-2007). During his time in law enforcement, Tony served as a gang investigator, field training officer, drug recognition expert, and a DUI enforcement specialist. Tony’s law enforcement experience includes three days of chaos, during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, as well as being on duty only a few miles away from the epicenter when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake devastated the greater Los Angeles area. During his career, Tony received more than 60 commendations and citations for meritorious service, arrests, criminal investigations, critical decision-making, and community service…
…From 2008 to mid-2012, Tony served as Living Waters’ Director of the Ambassadors’ Alliance, as well as the Director of Conferences and Special Projects. Tony’s service with Living Waters included the supervision of 20 Ambassador’s Academies (the ministry’s 3 1/2-day evangelism training program), conferences, State Representative system, and large-scale evangelism projects. Tony also wrote and co-hosted almost 400 episodes of Living Waters’ live, web-based program, “On the Box, with Ray Comfort.”
Tony has authored the books “Take Up The Shield (Genesis Publishing Group, 2005) and“Should She Preach? – Biblical Evangelism for Women” (One Million Tracts, 2013).
Tony is a prolific writer, having maintained several personal blogs, as well as writing for several other ministry blogs, websites, and newsletters. Currently, Tony’s writing is featured on the Cross Encounters blog (www.CrossEncounters.us).
Tony has preached in many churches across the United States and in Canada. He has served as the keynote speaker at several different conferences. He is committed to expository preaching. He frequently addresses topics such as biblical evangelism, spiritual growth and personal holiness, as well as the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Presently, Tony is serving the Lord as an itinerant preacher and open-air evangelist.
Like the banana man Ray Comfort, Miano is known for antagonizing and attacking anyone who doesn’t worship his version of the Christian God. Our paths briefly crossed paths a few years ago on Twitter. I found him to be an asshole then and he is an asshole now. I wouldn’t have been friends with him when I was a Christian street preacher. Like Comfort, Miano has a devoted flock of followers. They adore his in your face style, imagining that Jesus, Peter, James, John, and Paul were itinerant street preachers just like Brother Miano.
No, I don’t hate Matt Dillahunty. I pity him. I pity him the way I pity every human being who denies the God they know exists (Romans 1:18-25). I pity Matt and people like him because the Dillahunty Delusion (an all-too-common malady) is simply a byproduct of an absurd worldview (one that searches for coherence and meaning without God), which is born out of a love of self, a love of sin, and a hatred of God (Romans 1:31-32).
I think it would be safe to say that Miano’s view of Matt is how he views all atheists.
Like many of his ilk who only care whether or not someone embraces their version of Jesus, Miano has little compassion for those who are suffering. Miana is a Calvinist, so any suffering in the world is according to God’s sovereign, unchangeable plan. No need to embrace the suffering of others. Just get them saved so they avoid the REAL suffering to come.
As many of you know, a massive earthquake hit Nepal, killing thousands and injuring thousands more. A compassionate, kind, loving human would attempt to empathize with the Nepalese and their horrific loss of life and home. Not Miano. Here’s what he had to say on Twitter:
Most of the retweets were from people who condemned Miano’s tweet, but 96 people thought that tweet was wonderful. Some of those who clicked favorite were the same who condemned Miano’s tweet, but there were some Christians who thought Miano’s tweet reflected their view. People like Jessica Lam, Seth Dunn, and Kevin McDonald, and a host of other Christians who don’t want others to know their name. Like the raised hand and the unspoken prayer request, these Christians want Brother Miano to know that they support and approve of his tweet about Nepal.
Miano is followed by thousands of like-minded churches, parachurch ministries, and Christians. I looked in vain for one tweet that rebuked Miano. I wonder how they would respond if I tweeted this after a natural disaster leveled their home and church and killed their children:
Ha! Ha! Ha! You Christians in Toledo,Ohio got exactly what you deserved. Repent of your stupid beliefs. I hope that none of your churches are rebuilt! #mygodrulz
I can only imagine how Christians would respond to me, and rightly so. Why are Christians silent when people like Tony Miano, Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Ray Comfort, John Piper, Al Mohler, and a host of other miscreants, use the suffering and loss of others to remind them of their need to repent and believe in Jesus?