They are an exotic, quirky breed. Now the New York Times offers this look at some of them:
The graffiti has been replaced by advertising. The tokens have been replaced by MetroCards. But the subway preachers are a constant. They were there before I was born and will likely be there after I die — unless, of course, their occasional prophecy of the exact date that the world will end turns out to be accurate.
Some hand out leaflets quietly while others shout passages from the Bible. Some have a strict schedule; others show up whenever they are moved to do so. There seems to be little uncertainty of mission, no sign of existential angst. Most are Christian, servants of Jesus, but there is the occasional Hasidic Jew wandering the concourses. These proselytizers do not, generally, ask for much. You don’t have to give them money to buy a sandwich, and you’re not really obliged to feel guilty if you look away. If you take a tract or ask a question, you’ve gone well beyond your civic duty. Most riders ignore them. Over the past few months, I did not.
And for more entertainment and enlightenment, there’s this visual and audio presentation, so you can hear these folks for yourself.