Negative preaching distances students from religion

Many students on campus may have attended church or some other religious service regularly before college. You may not have even had a choice: Mom would barge into your room and throw a dress or button-down on you if you failed to wake up at the appropriate time (which always seemed too early).

But then college life arrived, and you were 100 percent in control of your schedule. And suddenly, sleep became more important. Studying became more important. Or other nameless college activities became more important. Spare-time became more precious; church-attendance fell by the wayside.

But this does not necessarily mean that we stopped being religious or decent people.

Personally, I have a very forgiving view of the Bible, and I interpret it in a modern way, with some verses I consider outdated. So when people take it into their own hands to tell us we’re going to hell, well, I just don’t buy it. Or appreciate it.

Take Jed Smock, for example.

Better known as “Brother Jed,” he travels to universities across the country (but concentrates in the Midwest), preaching the Gospel to college students. His mission is “to see men and women reconciled to God through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” as stated on his website.

And how does he go about spreading his beliefs? By calling girls in sororities “sluts,” labeling guys wearing tight clothes “homosexuals” and naming military members “baby killers.”

Last Wednesday, Brother Jed made an appearance at the University. Walking by the north end of the main Quad at noon, a friend of mine alleged that Brother Jed was in an argument with a female, and he was saying something along the lines of “women must not be heard.” OK, Bro Jed, we’re way past the times of the Nineteenth Amendment. Are you trying to be ignorant and a misogynist?

Students are known to get into arguments with Brother Jed and to mock his speeches.

Why? Because his message does not connect with us.

Some may argue that his speeches, although hateful, generate meaningful conversation about religion and faith.

My response to that?

Bullshit.

Regardless of Brother Jed’s intentions while preaching, what he’s really doing is pushing students farther from the church. It’s similar to what the Westboro Baptist Church does or what street preachers with picket signs do.

These groups conservative values and hateful ways of preaching them do nothing but create negativity. These groups get labeled as crazy, and in turn, students view the church as something rigid and unforgiving.

Accusing students of sinful behavior is wrong, and saying we’re going to hell for it is false. College students are not angels. We’re going to make bad decisions and learn tough lessons. But that’s part of life — we live, learn and improve. And that’s why, if you believe in the Christian faith, we are forgiven for our sins — not condemned to hell. And some of what Brother Jed believes are sins are not sins at all. In my eyes, homosexuality is not a sin. This is one example of where the Bible may be outdated. Not everyone believes that, but it is a statement that has grown traction in recent years and will continue to in years on. One man yelling hurtful words on campuses is not going to change that.

Brother Jed is scheduled to be back at the University Sept. 23-24. It is best to ignore him. Sure, stop and listen to him for a few minutes if you want. Ask him some questions if you really want. But don’t get into an argument. It eggs him on and creates a scene that probably wasn’t worth the effort in the first place.

Religion should be something that is welcoming and forgiving. Don’t let Brother Jed tell you otherwise.

Kirsten is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]