London street preachers arrested in Louisiana after confrontations at U.S. churches

Two men now infamous for preaching on London's streets were arrested and charged in Shreveport, La., during a recent trip to the United States where they were asked to leave at least three churches.

South Carolina sheriff issues 'patrol request' after Steven Ravbar, Matt Carapella disrupt church service

Steven Ravbar, left, and Matthew Carapella were back in their usual spot at the corner of Richmond and Dundas in London, Ont., on Monday. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Two men now infamous for preaching on London's streets were arrested and charged in Shreveport, La., during a recent trip to the United States where they were asked to leave at least three churches. 

Steven Ravbar confirmed Monday that he and Matthew Carapella were arrested in Shreveport and charged with "remaining after forbidden," essentially failing to comply with an order to leave private property.

Ravbar said he and Carapella paid a fine and were released. 

The two men were back in their familiar spot preaching with a loudspeaker at the corner of Dundas and Richmond on Monday.

Ravbar declined to give more details about the Louisiana incident to CBC.

"I don't know if I want to get involved in that," said Ravbar when approached by CBC. "You can present the story however want."

When asked if he and Carapella have been confronting people in churches in the United States, Ravbar said "no response."

On Jan. 24 The Oconee County Sheriff's Office issued a warning to area churches after Ravbar and Carapella were asked to leave the Tabernacle of The Lord church near Townville, S.C.

Is this free speech or harassment?


4 years ago
Is this free speech or harassment? 1:28

Jimmy Watt, a spokesperson with the Oconee Sheriff, said his dispatcher received a report that the men were being disruptive during services at the church and were asked to leave.

The men's actions prompted the Oconee sheriff's office to issue a patrol request — essentially an order to step up patrols and notify other churches — about Carapella and Ravbar. The sheriff shared a copy of that request with CBC News.

It says the men have "also reportedly been causing some problems in some churches in Georgia as well." CBC could not confirm any incident involving the two men in Georgia.

Screamed 'vile things' at women

The incident near Townville was reported by WYFF, a NBC affiliate based in Greenville, S.C. 

Church pastor Luke Gibson told the station the men sat quietly through Sunday evening service but when it ended, went to the foyer and began to scream "vile things" at parishioners, mostly women.

Ravbar told CBC News he and Carapella were asked to leave a church service in Beaufort, S.C. Ravbar said they left willingly and complied with a request from church leaders to not return. Ravbar also said a police officer arrived at the scene, and said the men wouldn't be charged as long as they complied with an order to stay away from the church.  Ravbar denies he and Carapella did anything to disrupt the service.

As CBC News has reported, Ravbar and Carapella have been the source of multiple complaints to London's bylaw department for their confrontational style of preaching. 

The men have also been barred from two London churches for challenging parishioners and church leaders during services. 

Both men are adherents of William Branham, a U.S. preacher with ties to white supremacists and cult leader Jim Jones. 

Branham died in 1965 but recordings of his sermons are widely available online and continue to inspire new followers. 

Branham preached an ultra conservative form of evangelism. In his sermons, he argues that women should stay in traditional, child-rearing roles and not pursue careers. He also says women should not dress in any way like a man. Even pants and short haircuts are verboten. 

In London, women have complained that Ravbar and Carapella frequently call them out on the streets for their appearance. Many have said they've been called "whores" by the men. 

London Mayor Matt Brown has also spoken out against the men, calling their preaching a form of "gender discrimination" that has no place in London. In November, the city had received 18 complaints about the men.

However, their behaviour falls into a grey area between free speech and bylaws that prohibit harassment and acts of public nuisance. 


Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.


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