The first time I witnessed the preachers that come out and scream about Jesus in public was my sophomore year of college. I was walking to my next class when I heard yelling and saw giant signs that advertise repentance. I thought "how could these guys come out here and preach the word of God by forcing it on people?" Last semester there were preachers rambling on about abortion and had giant billboards set up with images of dead babies. This was weeks after I had learned that my sister was pregnant. I cried in class that day because I was sitting in my classroom with bloody and cut up babies visible through the window.
Last Tuesday I went to get pictures of people slacklining near the student union. Instead, I was met by a massive crowd of angry students facing a man screaming about Christ. I don't usually listen to what screamer preachers have to say since it can usually be chalked up to "all college students are going to hell." But that day I wanted some good pictures for a photography assignment, so I stayed, and I was sickened by what I heard.
This pompous man dared to preach about the love of God while showing nothing but hate. He told us all that we were nothing but a bunch of porn-watchers destined for the fiery gates of hell.
He said that all of us women were sluts and needed to get our acts together in order to find "a Godly man like him." He was sure to let us know that he was married and off the market, so we shouldn't get out hopes up. When his screaming was met with protest he said, "this is why I sent my daughter to a real college." Eighteen thousand students gathered together at a university for the purpose of education, yet we're not a "real college."
Appalachian is a generally accepting and tolerant community. When they say "Appalachian family" they aren't exaggerating. Everyone is able to live the life they choose without much judgement. Then this guy comes onto our campus and tries to tell us that we're wrong for that. That Christians are the only people worth loving. When we rejected his views he said, "I thought this was a tolerant school." We told him that we don't tolerate the intolerance of others. He responded to that with, "God was the most intolerant person in history." I guess he skipped the part of the Bible that said God loves everyone, even those that do not believe in him.
I'm a Christian and I always have been. But what these people preach on my campus is not my religion. It is not representative of my beliefs and I think that it's important that people know that. Christianity is not what these men are saying. My God loves all of us. My God forgives our sins, and blesses all of us regardless of our wrongdoings and flaws.
I am not here to preach, as that is definitely not where my talents lie. However, I am here to tell everyone that will listen that Christianity is not the religion of a God that will smite us with every mistake. God is not here to condemn us, but to save us. He is not here to turn us away. We sin everyday and are imperfect in every way, but God knows that and loves us anyway.
So to the man who keeps coming to my campus, the place that I call home, to tell me that I am going to hell for not being a squeaky clean girl that has aspirations to live in a nunnery, take your hate somewhere else.
And to the guys holding up the signs that said "bong rips for Jesus" and "d***s out for Harambe," I'm not sure that I agree with your methods of protest, but thank you for standing up to intolerance.
If anyone wants to talk about God, leave me a comment or check out a church near you. Don't let people like these aggressive preachers turn you away from a religion that could change your life.