John Strother was intoxicated when he stumbled into a Harlem church Sunday evening as a gospel choir performed. After hugging two members on stage, he was physically tossed out, struck his head on the pavement and is now fighting for his life in an intensive care unit, according to the New York Daily News.
The 42-year-old man visited The Tabernacle of Deliverance For All People as a gospel concert was taking place. Strother managed to get up on the stage and hugged the soloist. Church members thought Strother had just been filled with the Holy Ghost, which explained why he was being so demonstrative.
The man then hugged a missionary. But when he tried embracing the soloist again, the church’s pastor, Rev. Joseph Bright, then noticed that the hugs were being given by a man who appeared to be intoxicated. The 79-year-old pastor, who described the incident as “unseemly,” told the New York Daily News, “It was out of order — but not unheard of. We thought he was getting the spirit.”
A deacon and two other congregants escorted Strother out of the church. “I don’t mean any harm,” were the words Strother reportedly uttered as he was ousted from the church, according to Deacon James Patterson. “I know, but you can’t come around hugging people!” Patterson claims he sternly told the man.
After Strother allegedly spewed “I know where I am; I’m in God’s house; f**k you and f**k you,” a scuffle ensued. Strother was shoved out of the church’s doors by a congregant, according to Patterson. Police records indicate that Strother was punched. When he was physically struck, Strother hit the pavement, head first, which caused him to fall into a state of unconsciousness.
Strother was taken to a nearby hospital and placed in intensive care. He is reportedly unconscious and battling to stay alive. His most recent address on record is a mental health facility in Cleveland. Strother has a lengthy rap sheet backing to the late eighties, including convictions of robbery, kidnpapping and felonious assault.
The question remains, was it “Christian-like” to exercise such bully tactics on a man who was visiting the house of God?