Teenaged attendees collided with religious advocates outside VidCon, YouTube’s annual conference in Anaheim, California, this week.
Because if there’s one place a street preacher would like to be challenged, it’s a convention center filled with 20,000 fiery teens.
Jason Roberts — who wore a San Diego Fire Department t-shirt and baseball cap — plus his crew of three to four minors arrived on scene on preview day, hoisting signs that read, “Your sins separate you from God,” and “Repent! And believe in Jesus.”
A crowd of teens orbited around him almost constantly during the three-day convention, arguing Roberts’ right to “tell them what to do.”
Roberts’ cohort passed out folding cards labelled as “Get out of hell free cards,” with instructions for the path to righteousness.
“This card is bent,” said a gangly blonde in a red summer dress. “Does that mean it’s going to hell because it’s not straight?”
“Honestly,” a young man sighed, “I’m not giving you permission to hold that,” pointing at the sign.
“You don’t have to,” Roberts said.
Attendees who downloaded VidCon’s mobile app received notifications throughout the week, encouraging them to ignore their presence.
“Please do not engage with the protesters in the plaza,” the notification read. “They’re a fixture of the [Anaheim Convention Center] and if they are left alone, they will leave.”
Roberts told us that the situation never became violent or threatening. Most teens participating in the swarm were “excited” by the chaos, and making mild attempts to “fuel the fire.”
“They’re all fine, they are who they are,” Roberts said. “We’re going to be passionate about what we believe — I hope.”
A security supervisor on duty at the Anaheim Convention Center, who declined to give his name, also said no to commenting on the situation.
Attendees took to social media to express their discontent.
Can someone who is at vidcon get a friend and go to the Christian preachers and go do a slut drop in front of them this is not a joke
— sam (@HELLASAMUEL) July 25, 2015
Religious protesters outside of #vidcon
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