LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Catholics are disturbed after self-described Muslim-turned-Christian protesters disrupted Masses at several churches in the metropolitan area within the past few weeks.
In at least three incidents, the group “Koosha Las Vegas” has walked into churches in the middle of Mass, shouting at Catholics to repent and later posting videos of the protests to their YouTube page. According to their videos, the group consists of street preachers and self-proclaimed “soldiers” for Jesus.
One video shows at least four men wearing bold “Trust Jesus” t-shirts walking up the aisle during a Mass, handing out pamphlets and telling the congregation that as Catholics they have “sinned against [God] and broken all of his laws.”
The man behind the camera then shouts, “Guys, repent! And turn to Jesus Christ! Pope is a Satan! Mary statue is a Satan!”
Another video shows the same cameraman shouting: “Stop worshipping to the idols! Idols not going to save you! You need Jesus Christ! You need the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” at Catholics during Mass at Our Lady of Las Vegas Catholic Church on Dec. 5.
While the group's YouTube videos show that members have engaged in street preaching in and around the Las Vegas strip for at least a year, they have only recently begun entering churches and disrupting Masses.
Last week, the group protested outside of Bishop Gorman Catholic School in Las Vegas. In that video, a man can be heard telling passerby students, “If you look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church and you look at Scripture, you know why God hates this religious system.”
The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas confirmed to a local news station that there have been “multiple disturbances at several of their properties.”
The group’s emphasis of their Muslim background in their videos concerns Catholics in the area, in light of the recent terror attacks, and several Catholics told local ABC affiliate KTNV Channel 13 News that they find the aggressive protests so unsettling that they fear for their lives.
Area police told Channel 13 that the incidents do not appear to be connected to any terrorist threats. So far, no arrests have been made, since no crimes have technically been committed by the group, according to police.
Randy Sutton, crime and safety expert with Channel 13, said he is not sure he agrees with police that a crime has not been committed.
The group could be violating a state statute, NRS 201.270, which classifies the disturbance of a religious meeting as a misdemeanor.
The statute reads: “Every person who shall willfully disturb, interrupt or disquiet any assemblage or congregation of people met for religious worship: 1. by noisy, rude or indecent behavior, profane discourse, either within the place where such meeting is held, or so near it as to disturb the order and solemnity of the meeting … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
“This is really unusual behavior. This isn't something that happens all the time. So the fact that it even happened would be enough to cause alarm, and legitimately so,” Sutton said.
The Diocese of Las Vegas is working with police to educate clergy about the incidents.