Protesters clash at Towson University over LGBT rights. (Libby Solomon, Baltimore Sun Media Group)
The group that disrupted Towson University on Thursday is a self-described nondenominational church near Philadelphia known for harsh public rebukes of “sin and Sinners.”
Signs declaring “Jesus or hellfire!” and promising hellfire to Muslims, gay people, “drunks,” “witches,” and the Pope were inscribed with the website for the Key of David Christian Center. The church is run by Aden Rusfeldt, who calls himself “Pastor Aden,” according to the website.
In an email Friday, Rusfeldt declined a phone interview saying he was busy “preaching [in] D.C. today.” But in a subsequent email on the weekend, he said his group is made up of “loving Christians.”
His small group drew hundreds of furious counterprotesting students Thursday to Cross Campus Drive. The students cursed at them, chanted “love is love” and danced to music played by a miniature marching band sporting rainbow flags.
The incident culminated in an arrest after witnesses say one of the demonstrators punched a student counterprotester.
According to its website, the Key of David Christian Center is north of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last year that Rusfeldt declined to say where the church is based, citing “what he says are many death threats he has received.”
According to the Inquirer, Rusfeldt and his organization regularly demonstrate on Pennsylvania college campuses. The group is known for using profanity and “harsh signs,” the Inquirer reported.
In a page for frequently asked questions, Key of David Christian Center explains that the group uses offensive names deliberately to “rebuke sin and Sinners.”
As eight armed police officers stood in a circle holding angry students back from the demonstrators, a man with a bullhorn in the center told counterprotesters they were going to hell and taunted women over menstruation.