Williamsburg Preacher Rails Against “Godless, Atheistic Hipsters”

Ray Bou Williamsburg preacher

  • Danielle Furfaro, Brooklyn Paper

I had a girlfriend years ago who lived in Sunset Park, the windows of her bedroom facing Fifth Avenue itself, and on Sunday mornings, as sunlight flooded in, so too did the sound of a street preacher with a megaphone, screaming in Spanish about Jesus for hours on end. It was enough to get you up, out of bed, and on the other side of the apartment—or out of the neighborhood all together. So I’m sympathetic to the people who live near Broadway and Havemeyer, some of whom are getting fed up with the street preacher who has set up shop under the elevated J and M track every weekend for the last 14 years, shouting to be heard above the rattling din of passing trains, the Brooklyn Paper reports.

The preacher, Ray Bou, says he’s just trying to save souls, but critics say he’s just being a jerk; they started a petition that got 65 signatures. One critic said he has tried talking to the man and even slipped him a note but to no avail. He tried the police “but claims cops usually show up several hours later, ask him to turn it down, and leave. A few minutes after the cops pull away, Bou has the volume back up to 11… The noise ordinance in New York City is complex. There are rules governing bars and car stereos, but there is not a law that addresses amplifiers set up on street corners,” the Brooklyn Paper reports. (Oh really? Let me get my amplifier and set up outside Zuccotti Park to preach about the evils of capitalism and see how long before the NYPD introduces my face to the pavement.) That’s not true as far as I can tell: “sound reproduction devices” (which includes an “electronic sound amplifying system”) are forbidden for use for business or commercial purposes; all other purposes require a permit. Bou’s supporters say he has such a permit.

They also say he does good pastoring work for some people in the community. But he also says hateful things on the weekends and in interviews to Brooklyn Paper reporters. “The people who don’t want me here are godless, atheist hipsters living in immorality,” he told the paper. “They come from good homes and they’ve never been poor, so they don’t know what it’s like to need god.” Which he would know, I’m sure. “I have seen/heard him insult and berate many of us who call the southside of Williamsburg home,” one commenter wrote. “Perhaps he mistakes me for what he thinks is a hipster, but he should know better than to judge others. I am a working-class resident, I come from a working-class family, and have known my share of struggles. But he would never know that—he has never asked. He assumes things on appearance and insults what he doesn’t take the time to understand.”

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart


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