4th Year CLAS / CURRY
I am writing in response to the
recent visits from fundamentalist street preachers, or “bible beaters” if you
will, to our school’s amphitheater in the last two weeks. I have had extended conversations with both
of these men, and for the sake of privacy, I will not mention names. One is from Jacksonville,
Florida, and the other from northern Georgia.
I feel that in situations like these,
the first thing our university should do is listen intently to discover one thing:
if they are speaking heresy or not. As
far as my knowledge of Christian scripture is concerned, neither of these men
were blaspheming the Bible. If you sit
down and read any of the gospels, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, or any of
the Old Testament prophecy, you will find mention of the judgment, hell-fire,
brimstone, etc. that these men are preaching.
If they were heretics, then why did the crowds grow in size on each
subsequent visit? Obviously, they struck
a nerve here in the University, and many deemed them worthy of their time.
trouble, however, arises in two things: interpretation, and style of
translation. Christians for centuries
have never been able to agree on how to interpret scripture. These men preach a message of consequence for
living in and justifying sin (sex outside of marriage, homosexual relations,
and drunkenness were the mainstays, I believe.)
They have scripture to back them up.
As for style, they preach with a degree of intolerance and
abrasiveness. “My job is yelling at
people,” “Most of you girls out here are whores, and most of you frat boys are
drunkards,” and “If you are a Catholic, you are going to hell” are only a few
of their offensive statements.
street preachers may not be heretics, I think it’s fair to say that they are
going about things in a disastrous way. They
fail to translate the bible into our common vernacular, and leave many
misunderstandings in their wake. Using
sweeping generalizations and euphemisms like “queers”, “whores,” and “terrorists” qualify them as out of touch individuals who aren’t aware of
proper decorum for civilized conversation.
No wonder the world sees the Church as intolerant.
Additionally, they fail to point
out the following: First, that they are only qualified to judge Christians, not
the rest of the world. Second, that they
used to sin just as frequently as the rest of us, but now have been separated
from that sin through Christ. And third, that Jesus offered a message of
consequence, true, but also one of unconditional love. It has to be both: Jesus condemned sinners,
but loved them at the same time.
concern rests on the shoulders of us as a student body. I witnessed many equally bigoted and
intolerant actions from these audiences in the last two weeks. From ignorant obscenities to juvenile acts of
defiance, our students have spit, cursed, poured water on and made out in front
of these men – all to prove a point. But
the only point that I see being delivered is that we are just as intolerant as
they are. If we are a people looking
for serious truth to the questions of homosexuality, Catholicism, abortion,
relativism, evolution and the like, then why are going about it with immature
sensationalism? Why are we attacking
these men like wounded animals defending themselves from predators? Shouldn’t we be sitting down and engaging in
honest conversations? Shouldn’t we be
listening, getting the facts straight, and making rational judgments based on
those facts? But instead, we are mocking
these men, laughing at our own jokes, and having a grand old time at their
everyone questions the reality of existence and the claims of dogmatic
religion. But if you do, and if these
two men have engaged you or left you questioning your beliefs in any sort of
way, I strongly beseech our student body to look for the real answers. And that comes from an empirical
investigation on both sides of each argument.
I believe the answers are out there, and the Christian Study
Center (on Chancellor street) and
many of our libraries are great places to begin. I and many of my counterparts would be more
than happy to recommend numerous resources for Christian and Atheist literature