“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” according to Mark 16:15. This scripture drives Free Speech Plaza’s most vocal speakers. However, the methods they use to “preach” have many students riled up. Free Speech Plaza is meant to be a place where students, faculty and campus organizations can effectively deliver any message. This is not the case. Free Speech Plaza is a disaster which enables people to make a mockery of Christianity. This nonsense has gone on for too long.
Although Free Speech Plaza has its issues, it’s not all bad. There are many organizations that use the area to peacefully present whatever message they desire. Their actions and methods give Free Speech Plaza a ray of hope, but this is the one place where actions do not speak louder than words.
The plaza’s most prominent speakers don’t limit themselves to handing out flyers. Their main method is yelling at students about why they are sinners.
“We want the students to realize they are miserable, wretched and never did anything good for God,” said Sister Pat, one of the presenters. “We do it this way because the Apostles Paul and Peter did it. Jesus basically did it this way.”
Sister Pat said she has been preaching on college campuses for over 35 years. Their message is meant to be a mixture of preaching, entertainment and the gospel weaved in. Not only do these presenters preach, they also hold signs saying things such as, “Be gone thot.” Sister Pat said these types of signs do seem to disturb the students, but they won’t stop showing them because they get students’ attention.
Although these preachers get the students’ attention, they, along with the University, need to be concerned about the students’ reactions. Crowds of students form around these speakers and yell profanity at them in protest.
“The only thing they have been effective at doing is unifying people against them,” said political science freshman Ethan Lauvray. “I don’t appreciate how they try to impose this view on everybody else in an aggressive manner.”
“If you sin at all, you’re going to Hell. If you break the ten Commandments, you’re going to Hell. If you hug someone before you are married, you’re going to Hell,” said communication studies freshman Madeline Holmes, mockingly.
Obviously, students overwhelmingly feel these religious speakers’ methods are offensive. Sadly, it looks like there is not going to be any change. Students are not going to turn the other cheek when they feel they are being insulted. Most likely, the people who preach at Free Speech Plaza feel it will be disrespectful to God to stop preaching his word. While all this back and forth is going on, the integrity of Christianity is taking the major blows.
“We disagree with the methods of groups that will come and yell at students,” said Steve Masters, director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the University. “It’s rude and discourteous, and we don’t see Christ as rude and discourteous.”
Masters is an example of how to deliver a Christian message. Many students may not have noticed, but Masters comes to Free Speech Plaza to deliver the word. Instead of yelling at students and shoving religion down their throats, Masters takes a different approach. He says his method is to establish a relationship with a person and to earn the right to share Christ with them.
“If someone wants to know about Christ, we want to be respectful of their decision to accept him or not to accept,” Masters said.
No matter how you look at any situation, there is always room for growth, reflection and improvement. These three values need to be associated with Free Speech Plaza. There are many students who view these interactions as entertainment, but as a Christian, I can’t stand for people de-branding Jesus’ final commandment.
Donald Fountain is a 21-year-old mass communication sophomore from Saint Francisville, Louisiana.