On the afternoon of Monday, April 29, a group of demonstrators who self-identified as Christian staged a protest on campus, telling passers-by they “must obey Jesus or face hellfire.”
The protest took place at the intersection of Washington Road and McCosh Walk in front of Marx Hall and likely began at some time between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., according to some observers.
The demonstrators took turns holding up a poster that targeted groups of persons, including “homos,” “Muslims,” “whoremongers,” “The Pope,“ and “drunks,“ among many others. They also held up other signs which condemned feminists as “whores,” and they stated that God’s love is conditional and that sinners must repent their sins and obey Jesus.
One of the protesters was Aden Rusfeldt, the pastor of Key of David Christian Center, a self-described “non-denominational Christian Church” in Philadelphia. Rusfeldt was joined by two adolescents and an individual who refers to himself as “Brother Ross,” who was identified as James Ross by The Signal, the student newspaper at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
This group of protesters was continually surrounded by around 20 bystanders, mostly undergraduate students at the University, who stopped to observe the protest. Many of these bystanders chose to confront Ross and Rusfeldt with arguments, and one of the two protesting adolescents was seen recording the individuals who exchanged arguments with the demonstrators.
Sunny Yoo ’22, a Christian, was among those who confronted the protesters. He expressed his belief that the protesters were spreading a false message of Christianity.
“What the gospel teaches us is the good news that God has sent us Jesus because of his infinite love for his creation, but these people are just teaching so far from the truth,” said Yoo. “It grieves me so much, as a Christian, to see these people pushing their own hateful agendas.”
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote, “The students who spoke out respectfully in response to the demonstration exemplified how free speech is central to the University’s mission.”
“Princeton has an unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, and human dignity, and we stand in opposition to all forms of hatred,” Hotchkiss added.
Several public safety officers were present at the scene and monitored the demonstration.
When asked by The Daily Princetonian why they had come to campus, Rusfeldt said that they were at the University “because we heard a rumor that there are whores and homosexuals at Princeton, and we love them, and we want to warn them that they are going to hell without Jesus.”
Rusfeldt and Ross frequently shouted toward pedestrians passing by the protest, asking questions such as whether they are Muslims, whether they have engaged in masturbation, and whether they are virgins. Several women were chastised for wearing leggings.
A similar group of Christian protesters appeared at the University in March 2018.
Before appearing at the University, the same four individuals protested at TCNJ on April 10. In addition to Princeton and TCNJ, Rusfeldt has brought his protest to numerous other colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including the University of Pennsylvania, Bucks County Community College, Rutgers University, Temple University, and West Chester University. He was accompanied by James Ross and the two other protesters at some, but not all, of the other occasions.
In a video captured by the ‘Prince,’ Rusfeldt said that they will return to the University in the coming fall semester.
According to Hotchkiss, the demonstration ended shortly before 6 p.m.