On Quad, Brother Jed’s rhetoric is hateful and ineffective

The great thing about strolling down the Quad on any given day is that you never know what you’re going to see. There are always the tightrope walkers, the Frisbee players and the nappers. In addition, on Wednesday, Brother Jed was back on campus for his annual ministering.

At this University, it’s not uncommon to see religious speakers and teachers preaching and passing out pamphlets on the Quad. However, in the two years that I’ve been here, I’ve somehow missed the famous Brother Jed. Like any journalist who sees a crowd forming, I stopped to see what the stir was about.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with him, Brother Jed Smock is the leader of the Campus Ministry USA. He travels to different college campuses across the country trying to encourage students to live a holy life. Nothing’s wrong with that, but I was concerned with the way he tried to do this.

The next hour and 30 minutes took me by complete surprise. Brother Jed and other members of his ministry were preaching the word of God in what came off as judgmental, theatrical and ineffective elements, opposite of what Christianity aims to prove. He preached about sexual immorality and the differences between living right and wrong. However, I became turned off when they start condemning individual students. They kept frequently labeling girls who have had premarital sex as whores and condemned others for homosexuality. One student was even told that they were going to hell.

While many students genuinely tried to question their methods and sources of information, the majority of students only perceived Brother Jed as a joke. There were Brother Jed bingo sheets being passed around with some of his most memorable and disturbing logic in the squares. These included ideas such as: “All girls with short hair are lesbians,” “College girls should focus on finding a man and not studying,” and “Listening to rock music dooms you to hell.”

Students would then claim their candied prize. Brother Jed’s acts were appalling. I understand the idea and need to spread the messages and teachings of God; however, I don’t know which was more shocking: the method and logic of Brother Jed or the fact that students had taken the time to create bingo sheets about this guy. As a Christian, I don’t agree with the outrageous methods being used. In fact, Brother Jed and others like him are achieving the opposite of what they try to do.

When he seemed to be calm and a bit less theatrical, I asked him how he felt about the reactions of the students and what he hoped to accomplish. He stated that students reacted angrily because they knew that he was right and didn’t want to stop living the way they were living. He also went on to say that many Christians stay behind the church walls, and his goal is to get out in the public.

Do you see how logical that sounds?

If Brother Jed were to sit and talk with students in a more calm and deliberate manner, maybe people would start to take him seriously. Many students would probably still disagree with Brother Jed, but serious conversation would allow students to at least see where he’s coming from. The dramatic method of shouting, outrageous ideology and the passing of judgment may only capture the attention of an audience, but religion is not something you should joke around about. If you are going to minister to people honestly and genuinely, that’s one thing, but to criticize and essentially play around is disrespectful.

How can I take that seriously?

Overall, religious speakers should not condemn or pass judgment when trying to spread and convince people of their religious beliefs because ultimately it is not their place to do so. It also discredits the religion and shuns people. They should also maintain seriousness and keep an open mind. People seem to be more receptive and at least understanding of your point of view when partaking in a conversation in a respectful and legitimate manner.

If Brother Jed wants students to believe in something, then he has to spread his message in a way worth believing.