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Ignore offensive preachers on campus, refuse to give them attention

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the union, having a particularly bad cup of coffee and wondering why I bothered waking up to go to an intro-level biology class when I saw a small herd of people gathered around near the union oval.

At first I thought little of it, but as the crowd began to grow larger, I looked up from my breakfast to see what it was.

Rising above the mass of people was a woman [though it’s usually a man] holding a sign that said “embrace Christ or burn in hell” in one hand and a crucifix in the other.

I couldn’t hear what she was saying through the glass, nor did I care enough to bother trying to read her lips, but the fervent glow of her dark eyes and the wild but resolute tilt of her razor-like eyebrows erased what little of my doubt remained.

Yes, the “turn or burn” preachers were back.

Every year I’ve been at the University, I’ve seen the student body react to the presence of “Bible Bob” or others of his ilk in very much the same way.

Some shout back, thinking their haughty notions of “reason” or “tolerance” will convince the preachers to step down; others [like me] pass idly by and pay them no mind whatsoever, and some – whether for want of a spectacle or because they have nothing better to do – just stand close by and laugh.

Although I’m amazed at how many students would squander a perfectly good opportunity to play Candy Crush with Lucifer in his sulfur Jacuzzi, I think most people, especially those who attempt to argue with, badger, discredit or otherwise dissuade these roving troupes of zealots misunderstand their aims entirely.

After seeing these sad scenes go on for four years now, I think I can make the following assumptions with some certainty.

They are not here to be convinced; they are here to proselytize.

There is nothing any of us can say to any of them to change their minds any more than they can change ours.

I understand that many students will feel an obligation to defend their faith from being grossly misrepresented in front of the whole student body, but any attempt to challenge them on the grounds of piety will almost certainly end in a theological debate, which is what they want.

Any kind of attention – positive or otherwise – is ammunition for them as well as an incentive to come back to a campus that has reacted to their message.

Trying to convince any of these people that they’re wrong would be like expecting congress to pass a law, or expecting President Mazey to pay the adjunct professors real money and elevate them beyond the status of the University’s Wal-Mart employees.

Nice as they might be, I highly doubt any of these things are going to happen, so we shouldn’t hold our breath. More importantly, we shouldn’t give any of these bible-thumping radicals the time of day.

Let them speak their lunacy into nothingness and be forgotten— otherwise they’ll be back for as long as the sun rises in Bowling Green.

Respond to Ian at

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