Many of you, who have visited the mall area this past week, have seen the “street preachers” that have been frequenting our campus. Some of these gentlemen are from an organization called “Official Street Preachers.” Surely, you know what these men believe.
For those who disagree with these preachers, I beg of you to simply ignore them. They want to be confronted. They want you to get angry with them because it attracts attention to them. Any confrontation will only make their job easier.
Dictionary.com defines hate speech as “speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Their website states “Perhaps we should be very suspicious of all Muslims in this country.”
This is prejudice in its purist form. They blatantly judge people based solely on their religion. I do not believe these “street preachers” are breaking any laws, but I do find their message and style to be offensive and harmful to our campus.
When I first saw the “street preachers,” I thought it was a joke. I kept looking for the hidden camera; they were complete caricatures of what I thought of as a “street preacher.” I decided to stick around and listen to them, mostly for entertainment’s sake. After listening for awhile, I witnessed some people attempt to confront the preachers on their beliefs. The preachers completely ignored the group’s use of reason and instead claimed that these people were going to Hell.
These men do not want to debate or to have a civil conversation about religion in this country. They want to scare people, using fear to convince others to believe what they believe.
The more I listened to these preachers, the more it angered me that this could happen on a college campus. College is a place of higher learning meant to flush out hateful prejudices like these.
I attempted to talk to one of the preachers in a private manner away from the crowd, as to not cause any more attention to their scene. I made the mistake of trying to reason with the man about the harm he could be causing students and how hurtful his words can be.
The man promptly dismissed my complaint stating that, “The primary mandate of Christ is to go forth and preach the word!”
The front page of their website even goes as far as demeaning those churches who “prioritize making sandwiches for the homeless and devoting themselves to a ‘prayer ministry’ while they totally neglect the primary mandate of Christ.”
They are insulting people for helping the homeless.
Free speech is guaranteed by our constitution, so I am not suggesting that our university make it illegal for these men to speak their minds on university property.
I admit to watching them for entertainment’s sake. This was a mistake. I remember seeing some of the preachers taking pictures of the crowd, of which I was included, but I do not want my image being used to promote their beliefs.
If you stand and watch these men you are only furthering their cause. If you truly disagree with them, do not give them one second of your time or even a thought in your head.
I do realize the hypocrisy of giving them more attention by writing this article. I believe that most people, who have seen these men or will see them, have formed their opinions of them and I do not plan on changing them. What I hope to do is persuade those people who do disagree with them to not lower themselves to these men’s level.
I understand that this is hardly drawing a line in the sand. Ignoring these men will not drive them away.
The simple truth is that they are protected by our constitution, which is a wonderful thing. However, we can respect civil liberties, while also protecting our campus from bigotry, by protecting our minds. Respect comes before judgment, not vice versa.
As a member of the higher learning community, I implore all students who disagree with these men to refrain from communications with them under all circumstances.
For those who support and believe the bigotry involved in these men’s beliefs, I suggest you take a course in ethics.