A California preacher was thrust into the center of controversy (and a jail cell) after he incited a mass panic during a showing of the latest "Avengers" movie.
Michael Webber, a 28-year-old pastor with Truth and Triumph Ministries, waited until the credits began to roll in the theater and then seized what he though was a perfect opportunity to preach the Gospel. With the lights still off, Webber jumped out of his chair and launched into a sermon about the virtues of Jesus' teachings and achieving salvation.
Unfortunately, it didn't go quite as planned.
A Wave of Panic
Witnesses said that in the dark theater, the preacher's words were anything but uplifting. In fact, they were downright scary. Webber reportedly asked the terrified crowd: "If you were to die tonight, would your passage to heaven be guaranteed?"
Moviegoers, convinced that a gunman had entered the theater, began to run for their lives. Many sustained injuries during the frantic escape. "That's when the kind of chaos happened in the little exit, where people were jumping over the railings, and kind of falling over, twisting their ankles and hitting their head," recalled witness Adrian Arias.
One woman fell 20 feet to the floor after jumping a railing, and was trampled by a throng of people desperate to escape the theater. She had to be transported to a hospital.
Confusion and Chaos
Police received a call that 30-40 shots had been fired at the theater - a claim that turned out to be false. Nobody in the theater was armed, but once Webber started screaming about death and mortality, moviegoers (understandably) weren't interested in sticking around to check.
When police arrived, they confronted Webber and arrested on charges of "offensive language likely to cause a violent reaction." He has since been released.
The embattled preacher later offered a public apology, claiming he meant no harm. But critics say his actions were at the very least highly dangerous - if not criminal. Many are pushing for criminal charges, arguing he might try this kind of stunt again if it goes unpunished.
A Repeat Offender
Apparently, Webber does indeed have a habit of proselytizing in crowded movie theaters. He says it's a common strategy he utilizes to reach people who might not otherwise encounter the teachings of Jesus. However, he insists that it's never been an issue before. So what went differently this time?
"Last night was an anomaly," Webber explained. "The lights did not turn up for quite a few minutes, and so I really couldn't see anyone's reaction except those of the people just right around me. It's extremely unfortunate that anyone sustained injuries because of this. Again, I was unarmed."
Limits of Free Speech
This bizarre story highlights a larger debate about religious expression and the constraints we put on free speech as a society. On the one hand, individuals must be allowed to express their opinions - no matter how much those around them would rather not hear them. But, as with any right, it comes with reasonable restrictions. The oft-cited example of free speech crossing a line is someone shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.
Well, critics say Webber did exactly that - except in this case he was shouting "Jesus".
Lock him up!
This may be Jesus' way of telling Webber He wants him to preach to prisoners. And we wouldn't want to deprive him of doing the Lord's Will. Amen and Blessed Be !
The people in the theater and prisoners were both captive audiences. We need to have a choice in who we listen to, what we believe, who we choose to listen to and, once again, listen critically and then form your opinions. This guy should be defrocked.
Sometimes some of the ministers around here say the darndest things that I have a hell of a lot of fun responding to. Thankyou ULC ! My hat's off to you.
Theater goes are not prisoners. Let's not go there please. Lots of people hear God telling them something and many need medication.
Let's not assume God told him anything since the pastor never said that... Think he v world have mentioned that when he got arrested
Gary is absolutely right. Being forced to listen is not Gods way. It is just as bad as listening to foul mouthed punks yelling out curse words. A pastor should know better.
Some kind if punishment greater than disturbing the peace is appropriate. It's shameful that this was allowed to go on that long.
Seriously he should have waited for the time to do his preaching. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
He has been led by the Holy Spirit he would've used his wisdom. God is not the author of confusion but he did led to confusion
Hopefully those who were injured in the resulting melee will sue his posterior off!
Wrong place wrong time and out of context (with no intro)...I believe the minister was not thinking thus he should seek training in pastoral care and counseling...it would also be great that his church offered pastoral care and counseling training...especially since he is known to do this kind of "shock ministry"
in today's climate of anxiety and uncertainty I agree that the minister should've been arrested not only for the peoples sake but for his own safety....yet in glad he was released and hope he will engage in the aforementioned suggestion.
May we all seek to do better. -Peace, Quelyn Purdie, MAPCC / Ordained Interfaith Minister
Free Speech is a natural God given Right protected by the qst Amendment in U.S.A.
He had no intention of causing panic - just spreading the Gospel Message every Church going Christian has heard many times before :
If you Die tonight, do you KNOW you will go to Heaven to be with Jesus ?
Or will you burn in Hell's everlasting damnation ?
What must you do to ensure your Salvation right here and right now and for the rest of your life and the after life to come ?
HOW can a Man be Born Again?
What in the world does such a weird statement MEAN ?!?
30 Years ago no one would bother preaching at a theater because everyone alteady knew how to be saved.
Then we BANNED THE BIBLE and banned prayer in schools. So now children turn to drugs and violence. Things we never saw in our community - NEVER IN 50 YEARS.
But what seems like normal people quickly unmasked the fear and terror in their hearts.
Life was so much better with THE BIBLE in schools, not drugs and guns.
We need to take back our RIGHTS to pray in public - our RIGHTS Protected by God and Defended by the Bill of Rights.
Give us the GOD of LOVE, & there is no need for fear.
Love One Another.
Christianity at it's core is SO SIMPLE - easy as a Love Song.
LOVE is the ANSWER to all of your Questions, forever and always.
People wouldn't have panicked if they'd been armed. We should never have let our people get to this state of chicken-heartedness. Of course, the dude is a butt-head for preaching like that anyway. If he didn't have some kind of permit or something for that place he had no business jumping up and doing that. I doubt he knows his bible very well or he wouldn't have been preaching like that. John Baptist didn't go to the crowds. The crowds came to him. Paul went into the synagogues and followed the protocols of the people there.
Oh yes, and the person who reported shots fired should be disciplined also. That could have CAUSED police to shoot someone.
John you seem intent on trying to shift blame. Right here you use classic whataboutism. There is a big difference between a person under stress and duress mishearing loud noises and thinking gun shots, and a false report.
If we start punishing people for a misguided report rather then a blatantly false one it would just lead to even greater fear and mistrust of those wearing the badge.
How can you mistake no gunshots for gunshots? I mean, if there are no firecrackers going off or balloons popping?
Oh, sure armed people panic. Armed people in a panic shoot wildly, and the report of "30-40 shots fired" would have been an underestimate. What it takes is training and discipline to NOT shoot in a frightening situation unless it's called-for, ordered.
This preaching is akin to shouting FIRE in a crowded theater - the people have been systematically taught to fear that someone doing something so unusual is going to begin firing automatic weapons, that they will try to get out of there, and kill each other as they do so.
No, he does not know the Bible he claims to be preaching very well at all.
Yeah, that would have been awesome, a bunch of people firing guns wildly in a dark theater. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Nobody said anything about a "bunch of people firing guns wildly in a dark theater". Why do you invent crap like that? ARMED people don't just start shooting wildly, unless they are teenage ghetto gangsters, that is, and they wouldn't have been at the movie. Armed people try to take cover and assess the situation, and if they have a clear shot, they take it. Just because you are a frightened rabbit, don't think everyone else is.
Hey John, You sound like ex-military. Aim for the center mass and don't jerk the trigger. The news media loves to show this over and over again to improve their ratings and this in turn brings out all the crazies to do a me too and get their 15 minutes of dubious fame.
I don't base my life on the crap in the TV shows.
Good thought, John Didn't say you did. TV and the media are only looking for Nielson ratings. TV will eventually fry your brain and everybody has a gun on nearly every program you watch. They have glorified violence but if we only got fed comedy probably no one would tune in! Probably best to watch NPR or the nature channel.
NPR is as bad as CNN, just better at pretending not to be grinding axes. Tools.
"ARMED people don't start shooting wildly, unless they are teenage ghetto gangsters" ?? **Las Vegas!
Idiot. We were talking about people in the crowd.
I agree. I’ve found those legally licensed to carry firearms to be well trained, responsible, and of good moral character. I’ve carried concealed for over 12 years and I’ve never unholsteted my pistol - I’m sure the majority of others who carry would say the same.
In Missouri we don't v have to have a permit or education about guns.
Most private citizens that carry, whether licensed or not have more experience shooting a gun than most police officers do, most police officers only have to qualify firing their gun once a year, while most citizens fire their gun multiple times a year at a range.
Look at all the times cops fire a gun, many times firing 10 to 17 shots and maybe hitting the bad guy once if lucky.
Exactly, Rae, and people who grow up with weapons are much more likely to react rationally and purposefully than people who grow up with no training who just want to panic and stampede wildly.
"teenage ghetto gangsters" -- that is barely veiled racism. Only white people use guns responsibly? "Ghetto gangsters" are the problem when it comes to an armed populace? Holy cow. Even if there was a point to be made about the efficacy of widespread carrying of deadly weaponry in a civil society (and I disagree with you on that point) you undercut anything you have to say when you reveal your racism.
Thank you Rebecca for calling out racist pastors like this. This is the sentiment that helps divides us.
It's a reflection of people who don't know anyone accept those who look like themselves.
If you always have dinner with people who look like you then you are the problem... That's what my pastor says
WHO THE HELL MENTIONED RACE? YOU TWO!
See? People like you are the true racists, but you LOVE to point your grubby fingers at others. That's how leftists operate--accuse the others to avoid being examined yourselves.
@Rebecca - since when is the word "ghetto" racist? You are a prime example of why people are so thin-skin and angered or frightened by everything today.
Thank you, Doug. She is so racist, she equated the words "ghetto gangsters" with, I guess, black kids? The word "ghetto" comes European Jewry or describes the Jewish enclaves. Anybody can be ghetto, but Rebecca and Anita think "ghetto" is a race, rather than a place. These bleeding heart morons always like to try to tack on racism to back up their flimsy, flaky points of view.
I haven't seen any kind of "mea culpa" from either of you, either. Like drive-by gangsters, huh? You could at least admit you are being, what? Too eager to cast stones, even though you live in glass houses?
Why don't these people own 75" Screen TVs in their homes ?
Best Buy can get you a great BETTER THAN THEATER 4K HDTV for just a few hundred dollars.
I'm actually surprised a Theater exists someplace now - since everyone can also watch movies on their phones too.
Lol we aren't making this about guns.
Under your theory the pastor would be dead. Is this what you are advocating?
As soon as the first shot is fired all distinction between "good guy" with a gun and "bad guy" with a gun is lost on the responding cops in body armor and carrying AR's.
Which is why people should be arrested for saying shots were fired.
People wouldnt of panicked if armed? Really? You actually think that? Something tells me you have not counseled war torn soldiers and listened to countless hours of their first hand accounts. No most soldiers actually do tend to panic the 1st time and the fiftieth. The kind of psychology needed to remain detached when in such constant threat turns people in to monsters.
Only Psychopaths and sociopaths not only survive but thrive in such conditions.
And this preacher wasnt a mere butt head he was actually a fear mongerer. He was using the movie which was heavy with fighting and heroes falling in battle and the emotional highs and lows produced to try and let it do the heavy lifting his words should of been capable of on their own in a church setting.
This man should be charged as if he himself caused each injury suffered by those who got caught up in the stampede.
And really we dont need to hear comparisons to archiac figures from centuries past that has no relevance in this discussion But then again Owens you likely dont know the bible any better then this man considering how little you say could be held up as good christian views and values.
T'Keren, your alligator mouth is overloading your hummingbird brain. YOU obviously wouldn't know the difference if I know the bible or not, and since you don't KNOW Christian views or values, you would be better served to stop trying to preach about them. If your little petty unclean spirit hates me and the things I say, GOOD! Just means I'm on the right track. I don't know why you are so bitter and caustic but your wit is not one half as sharp as you think.
It’s getting more and more difficult for me to deal with self righteous Christian, ‘my way is the best way and your way sucks’ people! He has no business spewing his self righteous crap in a public place. He wants to do that do it in his own church.
Absolutely right. The theatre is not his church. Save his preaching for the pulpit.
If there hadn't been previous theatre shootings people wld not have panicked. Bad judgment in his part.
Another nut case causing disruption.
Lock him away !
This is mental illness that churches prey on people to do these kind of things...Sad..Religion needs to start respecting people and their personal time and space.
I don't think it's religion in general, but mainly christianity, and that religion is on its way out. I've heard (but can't quote sources so don't believe me) that they are losing members fast,and there will soon be a resurgence of Paganism, and other " good " nature based religions. Blessed Be !
Interesting thought,Carl. The fact is that there are about 2 billion 200 million Christians in the world, about 1 billion Hindus, about 488,000 Buddhists and about 1 billion 100 million atheists. The rest of the worlds population accounts for a multitude of different beliefs. I don't think Christianity is quite dead yet.
Think of it as a a slow death of three and a half billion cuts.
I didn't say it was dead Gary, but on its way out.
What church do you go to?
Lea Weis, wha church do you go to? And have seen these “preying” behavior?
Maybe if we write to the court we can convince them to put all of us ministers on the jury. That would truly make it a jury of his peers. That would be even better than a car full of nuns. Then we can make sure he gets the maximum sentence.
I do believe in the people coming to me because they want to. I have an interfaith ministry. My congregation does not go out and preach nor do I. Pastor Webber is young and he learned a valuable lesson. Instead of condemning him show a little empathy, not the nasty degrading remarks. Thank you and peace to all.
You might be able to relate to such crîminal activity but the rest of us can't. Get your mind out of the gutter,Klebes.
Elfstrom, you're a liar!
You said 'the rest of us can't' relate to such criminal activity. I can relate to it, so that makes your comment false.
You're also illogical in your labeling Klebes' mind. 'Get your mind out of the gutter, Klebes' is an inappropriate assertion and one that is totally nonsensical.
We hadn't heard from you yet Bob so I wasn't talking about you. Since your mind usually seems to be in the same gutter as Klebes I'm not surprised you feel that way. I wasn't addressing you and don't owe you an explanation about diddly squat. You sound like you're trying to kiss Klebes ass. I bet you think it tastes like Jesus'. You've been going down on him too, haven't you ? If Klebes had a problem with it, he's a big boy now, and just as much of a loud mouth as you, so he would have mentioned it to me. Maybe he realized I was right, but you're too stupid to do so.
'mind out of the gutter' How is such an inconsiderate, insensitive, baseless comment warranted? Please explain.
Pretty sure he just means that we can't ignore a crime simply because you feel bad for a guy. Everyone would be having a goddamn riot if a muslim preacher tried to do this, so it shouldn't be any different with him.
This guy was in effect telling people they were going to hell. Isn't hell often described as "fiery hell"? Doesn't that meet he was yelling "fire" in a movie theater?
Are we that scared? What happened to freedom? This is communist Russia! The left Physically attacks people with other opinions. Burn college, cars, kill the police, and yet a Christian is the enemy? Granted this situation was a bad choice in timing, yet prison? Because someone is a scared crybaby? Get tougher, protect yourself, if no one is injured there is no crime Period.
This man took their freedom away. There is a reason to be scared..So many people out there in the name of religion and god that have killed so many people. This man and anyone that thinks these action are ok? This is an addiction...he needs help.
Jesus is cool, and most Christians aren't that bad, but it only took one bad apple to spoil the crop. Being a christian doesn't make him a good person. Although I know some very good Christians I know some bad ones too.
You apparently don't know much about American law James, if you think crimes are only about injuring people. All offenses against all levels of government are crimes, and offenses against individuals are torts, which are also against the law. And committung felony torts and felony crimes are grounds for imprisonment. And there are many kinds of such offenses. Know the laws for ignorance of it is not a justifiable excuse in a court of law.
Wrong. The people paid money to watch a movie, not to listen to religious sermons. While a public place, the man does not represent the theater, does not work for them and is not sanctioned by them to preach. Therefore he's infringing on people's rights to watch a movie. If he wants to reach people at a movie theater, there are all of those big ad placements before the show and he can buy time just like everyone else.
If that was me, I'd be annoyed because I like to watch end credits--and in Marvel movies, the movie always comes back during the credits, so he was interfering with their watching of further movie, and even if it doesn't he's disrespecting all of the thousands of names scrolling who helped make the film a reality but weren't in front of the camera. So he's still interfering with the movie and patrons being able to watch or discuss the movie at the end.
He's done this before so it is more than appropriate to file criminal charges: the movie theater is not a sidewalk but ground owned by the movie theater and he is pushing views not necessarily held by said movie theater, so he's in violation there. Plus the patrons paid to see a movie, not to see/hear religious doctrine, so he was infringing on their rights as well.
There's a time and a place for preaching to the masses if that's your thing, but a movie theater is not it.
"The left Physically attacks people with other opinions. Burn college, cars, kill the police, and yet a Christian is the enemy?"
The majority of mass shooters and assassin's are right wing. Just saying.
a right winged person driven insane by a left wing retard
Typical Republican response. Blame your ignorant, ill-consceived actions on the left.
Well he did cause a panic in which at least one person was injured. Which is a crime. It's a disturbance of the peace.
Most of the people walking around with guns are the last people I really want to have them.
There's an old rule: Never stand where a gunman is aiming - or alongside him.
This man is a menace. I do not want his religious opinion at any time, but when I am trapped in a movie theater it is never easy to get out before I am subjected to at least part of his diatribe. Let him buy time on TV, and I can turn off the television. Spend his money on a building - there are enough nuts out there to support him. Keep him out of my space,
I cannot remember Jesus terrorizing people or using gimmicks to have a following..... could it be that the young reverend doesn’t really grasp the true teachings of Christ?
Reverend G. Morris
Healing the blind with spit? Turning water into wine? Walking on water? Multiplying loaves and fishes? Bringing dead people back to life? Sounds like pretty serious gimmicks to me.
But, what if the definitions of Jesus (and, God, for that matter) in those ancient biblical traditions were actually misleading? What if science and technology are showing us a different and more enlightened approach to the spiritual dimension of our being? And, what if it leads us to a spirit-filled system that allows for the need to express the sacred side of our nature without the ancient notions of hellfire, damnation un-saved souls and other "punishments" for pissing off the Universal Force of Life?
What if we begin to understand "God" and "Jesus" in terms that do not rule out our God-given intelligence?
Then where will the hell and damnation fanatics be?
"Healing the blind with spit? Turning water into wine? Walking on water? Multiplying loaves and fishes? Bringing dead people back to life? Sounds like pretty serious gimmicks to me."
Well, there's a difference between using a miracle to help someone in an unusual way on the one hand and turning the whole thing into a sideshow on the other. The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a misunderstanding of their purpose.
That said, Gus, I think the rest of your comment is bang-on. Jesus wasn't punished by God because we were bad. His death wasn't really a sacrifice, anyway, not in any reasonable sense of the term. And the belief that God is all set to lay some serious hurt on us because of this-or-that has been pointlessly making too many people afraid of God for entirely too long a time.
Miracles? I’ve been turning wine into water soon after drinking it!
Whatever happened to standing on a soap box and preaching on the public streets. He really felt the need to force feed his ideology to an otherwise captive audience. He should be given a stern warning and if he repeats the act should be arrested on any charge that will stick, e.g trespassing, disturbance of the peace, etc..
Don't worry about thatJohn. They'll be force feeding him plenty in prison. And when he gets out he'll only be preaching from the stages where "she" will be performing in drag shows.
Sounds like an extreme case of antinomianism -- someone believing that their job of saving souls is so very, very important that mundane laws shouldn't apply to them. Some Christians look at people like that and cringe.
... my dad used to say, “There’s a time and place for everything”. This was clearly the wrong place and very bad timing. The end result is his words/preaching resulted in physical harm - not okay.
His heart is in the right place. The move was not.
"The oft-cited example of free speech crossing a line is someone shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. "
What bothers me is that people make the above reference and (usually) have no clue about the shameful court case in which it was a part.
This pastor was talking about Jesus, nothing criminal in that.
There IS something criminal. In a dark movie theater he stands up and asks people about their death, causing panic and injury. Also, everyone knows Marvel movies have scenes during the credits. So not only is he a criminal, he's a jack@$$ ruining a $20 movie.
Really in this day and age probably not the smartest idea ... and or the right place to get on a soap box.............
The very wrong approach and place for such showmanship. This gives a bad impression for all people that may be interested in learning about God. The reaction of the people show such paranoia and extremeism that many movie goers have departed from reality without gathering all the facts and making a rational decision about what to do.
On the other hand, a well armed society usually results in a much more polite and respectful society..... WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.... This man is lucky he was not shot dead. After all, a good arguement for self-defense might have a chance.... LOL
The people,in the theater paid to see a movie not to hear a preacher ranting. Voluntarily enter a church and expect to hear preaching. Payers to see a movie should not be subjected to some weirdo’s babbling about his beliefs. This thoughtless person trampled on the rights of others, endangered their welfare and assaulted their peace of mind.
This one's easy. He violated Constitutional rights of everyone in that theater. Not just freedom from religion rights - he chose a venue in which everyone had to listen to his rants, hence he tried to force everyone to his way of worship. That is not a right; it is no different from IS forcing others to convert to THEIR brand of Islam.
What his intentions were are immaterial. People were injured because of his preaching.
So, yes, lock him up, levy a $100,000.00 fine, and make him pay all medical bills for everyone injured. One charge of assault/battery for every injury.
The preacher did not have "criminal" intent. However, the theater is the wrong forum for his proselytizing. He "negligently" created a dangerous situation and should be held accountable under the law.
I'm actually interested in what demon he thinks posessed him at the time. I'm not saying that he was wrong for wanting to spread the word, regardless of what faith he is preaching, but obviously like everything else....there is a wrong time and right time for everything. He chose poorly.
Well He picked a poor choice of words to use in today's current climate. Should he be prosecuted? I don't know. I am of the opinion that if you get into trouble for doing God's work then you should be happy about it like Christ says we are suppose to be.So if you are going to do His work be ready to be slapped for it by others as no one wants to hear about it. Matt 5: Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is ... 11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all .
Rights can not be restricted, only privileges can be restricted. The reason you are not allowed to yell "Fire" in a theater is not a restriction on free speech, it is because to do so is a breach of the commercial contract entered into by attending the performance. But if you really and truly believe that actual rights can be restricted, take the next 15 minutes and not breathe. After that ever so slight and reasonable restriction, we can continue the discussion.
As an ordained reverend myself, I feel the need to both keep quiet and shout out loud on this one. I feel pity for this preacher and his poor decisions thus far. I also feel anger at the results of his actions. The one thing I am not divided on is belief that he needs to be disciplined according to the law and example needs to be made. We do not need the ill actions of one driving others from God. Nor, do we need anyone else thinking this a good way to get a captive audience. We as a people need to think of the context of our words before saying them, free speech or not.
Two words. Allah Akbar if I said anywhere it would be God is Great. It is also said just before I turn myself into a blotch of blood along with all others in sight, I shall see all of you Infidels in Hell. He could have said I smell smoke and that would also drive the people into a panic. The guy is not too bright I guess the only occupation that he should have is a jail house preacher.
, First of all, this man was on private property, not public property. People paid to enter the movie theaters private property to watch a movie and follow their rules. , 2nd, the Messiah Yahushua never had an opening line like, “If you were to die tonight, would your passage to heaven be guaranteed?” his message was, " if you want to enter eternal life, keep the Torah/Commandments," Matthew 19:17. 99% of the Christians don't teach this and don't even know about it. , 3rd, this man was not persecuted for doing or preaching righteousness. I doubt seriously if he, and 99% of the Christians, knows the definition of righteousness, Deuteronomy 6:25. , in conclusion. This foolish man entered private property and incited the riot. He should be judged and punished by law because of this and because people were seriously hurt. Then he should read the red letter edition of the Bible to learn what Yahushua taught.
His choice of venue is unfortunate. In these days of violence & uncertainty in public places, it doesn't bode well to add to the chaos. While his heart may have been in the right place, his sermon was not.
Yes. yes. yes...
How was the Movie ?
The preacher was acting like a dork. These kind know little about they are speaking and are desperately trying to prove to themselves that they do.