In defence of Croydon’s street preachers

By - Monday 4th July, 2016

Jonny Rose plays devil’s advocate to Croydon’s “confrontational” missionaries

You can’t escape them.

From the simpering Jehovah’s Witnesses to the exotic Muslims to the dancing pentecostals, a Saturday amble down Croydon High Street brings you into contact with a frenetic spectrum of street preachers.

Whether they sing it, shout it, or shamefacedly distribute it via pamphlet, each of them is presenting and asserting a worldview that is wildly divergent from the other, and each is equally convinced of its own rectitude.

Remove the street preachers and you’re left with the meat and Mammon of British life. It’s not a good look.

Whilst I quite enjoy running the gauntlet of religions on my way to Marks & Spencer, it turns out that not everyone is fan.

People dislike street preachers

It was the Croydon Advertiser’s recent debate about the “confrontational” nature of street preaching that reminded me of this.

Apparently, not only are they a threat to our eardrums and our sensibilities, but also our children, too. ‘Hey kids, don’t do drugs or tracts‘.

Of course it’s not really a surprise. Nobody likes to be told that God exists, and it’s not them. Nobody likes to hear that all those chemsex parties may have eternal consequences. Nobody likes to consider that their lives are short, devoid of objective meaning, and will one day cease – most likely painfully, in an NHS bed, with formerly estranged children arguing over the will.

The piercing truth of the Gospel is certainly a lot to take in when all you popped out for was a pint of semi-skimmed.

In defence of street preaching

The first thing to realise is that – pending a Brexit-induced pogrom on proselytisers – Croydon’s street preachers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Despite an increasing intolerance to differing sexual ethics, a culture of near-constant victimhood, and nebulous definitions of “hate speech”, government legislation still deems street preaching a legitimate activity in the public realm.

Far from a societal menace, the street preachers of Croydon present a rare opportunity for Croydonians to experience a plurality of ideas that they are otherwise insulated from.

Croydon High Street is a marketplace – of ideas as well as products

If you want diversity and immigration, then you should expect the religious ideas and ideals that come with it. Hassan, aged 35, who has travelled from Saudi Arabia, is not going to suddenly deny after three decades of inculcation that “He is Allah, the One, Allah the eternally besought”, just because his host society has acquiesced to a postwar orthodoxy of secular materialism and cultural marxism. Nor will Grace, the Namibian coptic, nor Alan, the Scientologist from Australia, renounce their own beliefs.

If they’re right, then nothing is more important than what they have to say. Consider for a moment that what any one of those street preachers is saying is not merely the deluded ramblings of an imbecile, but is actually correct. If so, then we’re dealing with issues of life and [life after] death, and not simply a trifling temporal inconvenience.

Remove the street preachers from Croydon High Street and you’re left with the meat and Mammon of British life. A grey corridor of young mothers shouting at recalcitrant children, hostile clod-footed teens shambling in packs, and sickly men selling bits of wire jewellry. It’s not a good look.

Croydon High Street is a marketplace – and I’m glad that thanks to street preachers it’s a marketplace of ideas as well as products.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He owns a lead generation company. He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • lizsheppardjourno

    I strongly object……….

    … to the expression ‘hostile clod-footed teens’. I shall be writing a forceful response piece :-D

    • Jonny Rose

      Fantastic! I hoped this would be an issue that evoked forceful debate – looking forward to your rejoinder in the fullness of time, L :)

  • Anne Giles

    I wouldn’t allow a preacher from any religion anywhere near me.

  • Nelsonimaximus

    A plurality of ideas? A plethora of nonsense superstition more like. We should be overjoyed that superstition is being driven out. I don’t want to be shouted at by an idiot who favours 2000 year old fiction over rationality.