Local street preachers Harry Johnson and Keith Smyas rescued more than 200 Western students from enjoying a cloudless spring day on Monday by informing them of their sins and the swiftly impending Judgment Day.
A former adult entertainment duo, Johnson and Smyas said they were directly called by God to bring their fundamentalist, hate-mongering version of Christianity to London’s unholy cyclists, dog walkers, restaurant-goers and college students.
“All of you will burn in hellfire, so sayeth the Lord," Johnson said to a student in a wheelchair returning from volunteering with at-risk youth and an 80-year-old Brescia University College nun walking a golden retriever.
For nearly a decade, the pair’s highly personalized, tag-team style of lay sermonizing has been among the most effective in the city, as virtually all park-goers and warm weather-enjoyers within Johnson and Smyas’s range of vision have been delivered from their conversations or patio meals within minutes.
The two credit their success to their ruthlessness and "no holds barred" mentality.
Upon bearing witness to a woman strolling by in a pair of jeans, Smyas exclaimed "Harlot, dare ye bare clothing that pertains to a man?”
Wherever they go, Johnson and Smyas are armed with their own version of the Bible — "We cut out all the stuff about Jesus, love and the Jews," claimed Smyas — and a giant, homemade photo-collage display of fire, Oui magazine centerfolds from the 1980s and the glam metal band KISS. It is their DIY approach that they believe has set them apart from other street preachers in London trying to spare locals from the temptation of a fresh March breeze.
But not everyone supports what Johnson and Smyas — who have been inspired by such legends of the game as Jim Jones, David Koresh and William Branham — are doing.
“Yeah, I mean literally my entire life has been devoted to bringing students to the faith by preaching about the positive aspects of Christianity,” said Western University chaplain John Peter. “And I’ve never found telling people they’ll burn for eternity in the depths of hell for literally just doing normal human things an effective evangelism tactic.”
Another individual, who preferred to go unnamed, alluded to the duo’s unbecoming aesthetic.
“Maybe they’d be more effective if they didn’t smell like beef and cheese or harass women,” said the source, who claimed Johnson accused her of sashaying her hips like a painted Jezebel. “I don’t want you to write my name down, though; I literally saw them beat the shit out of a kid flying a kite because, like the Tower of Babel, he was 'getting a little too close to heaven.' ”
While every single church in the London area has disavowed the duo, it is estimated that they’ve saved nearly 30,000 wayward souls on college campuses, outside local bars and restaurants and at bus stops around the city.