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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Hate doesn’t work, preachers

The UA Mall is a wonderful place. There, students can find a good dose of sunlight, food, friends and . . . religion?

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of campus preachers. They often come during the school year and some have already been seen this semester. Armed with their amplification devices and “Ask Me Why You Deserve Hell!” signs, they easily catch the attention of the passersby, but it’s their sermons that makes the crowd stay. If you listen in, you’ll hear some material that truly does come from the Christian gospel — followed by some things that came out of left field.

Did you know that if you wear yoga pants, it’s partially your fault if you’re sexually assaulted? Or that the only book a woman should read is a cookbook? Though the Bible doesn’t touch on aforementioned topics, many campus and street preachers uphold those beliefs in the name of God.

I don’t want to steer this in the wrong direction, so let me be clear — I know it isn’t my place to judge religion. As Americans, the Constitution protects our religious freedom and our speech. The UA is unable to take action against a person for saying controversial or even offensive things, but the issue is more nuanced. Campus preachers have an agenda, and it’s not just to offend college students on their way to class.

These preachers want to get attention. They say homophobic things because they want to attract the LGBT community to their sermons. They say sexist things about females to make an audience out of women. They say we’re all going to hell to get us all to listen. And it works.

Believe it or not, I think their hearts just might be in the right place. They want an audience not because they enjoy spreading hate, but because they want to help students. Campus preachers think their approach will ultimately lead people to believe in the gospel and be saved from Hell. By saying such brutal things, they believe they will be able to alert people to their sins and help them learn of their need to repent.

Unfortunately for the preachers, the majority of the audience isn’t listening because they want to be saved; they’re listening because they are entertained by the sermons. It doesn’t seem possible that an individual who stands as a messenger between God and the masses could pass judgment so severely and easily. People genuinely question whether the preachers are being serious or if they’re just trolling students.

Whether their teachings are true or not, I can’t say (granted, I’m fairly opposed to being called a whore for no reason, but that’s beside the point). What I can say is that by preaching in such an aggressive, hateful and judgmental manner, preachers are likely turning people away from Christianity more than anything else. Why would someone want to follow a religion that is portrayed as intolerant and hateful?

It’s ironic that the preachers’ primary method is their major hindrance. Campus preachers would have greater success if they used kindness to communicate their messages. They won’t listen to that if you tell them, though — their conviction that they’re doing what’s best is simply too strong.

So what’s the point? Why say anything about it if they won’t listen and cannot be told to stop?

I think it’s important to note that if a campus preacher ever makes an accusation or a judgment about you or a group with which you identify, know that they are trying to get your attention more than anything. If you don’t like what the preachers have to say, you don’t have to listen. While these preachers may never stop what they do, they will certainly have to rethink their strategy if they never have an audience. Retaliating with anger, hate and ridicule will not affect them and it ruins your chances of being the bigger person.

Whatever you believe, I just hope you do it with kindness and compassion. We can all learn from the campus preachers that hatred gets you nowhere. At least that way we can’t say they never taught us anything.

Follow Rhiannon Bauer on Twitter.

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