Editorial: About That Preacher On Campus Tuesday
“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.” Ezekiel 25:17
Well, that’s not really what it says. That’s from Pulp Fiction.
The actual Ezekiel 25:17 says essentially the same thing, but Quentin Tarantino spiced the verse up a bit and Samuel L. Jackson delivered the line as though he was God’s own angry, afroed messenger.
There is an inherent judgment in the most fun Bible verses to quote because usually it’s a prophet telling a bunch of people that God is super mad, and if they don’t straighten out, he’s going to wreck house. That judgment provokes the visceral reaction many people have to street preachers.
Tuesday, some Youngstown State University students showcased that reaction by engaging a preacher who set up shop in the campus core with a variety of signs that expressed generally ignorant views and bigoted claims concerning gender roles and sexual orientation.
Later that afternoon,Jacob Schriner-Briggs, Student Government Association Executive Vice President posted sage advice on Facebook for those encountering the preacher.
“A note on the religious antagonists on YSU’s campus today — if you disagree with their views, it might do better to ignore than to engage,” Schriner-Briggs said. “They want to get you angry. They don’t want reasonable dialogue. A shouting match between two competing views makes both views look bad.”
This editorial really could end with that point, but there’s space that needs filling so a deeper look is in order.
One of our reporters went to the preacher’s demonstration and filmed some student reactions to the presentation. At one point in the video a female student is screaming at the preacher, who then offers her a Bible, which she rips from his hands and tosses to the ground.
We decided not to run that video.
We chose not to run the video because we didn’t want to give the preacher a larger platform for his message and because the interaction between the two individuals had no real value.
A student screaming objections was not going to change the mind of a man who drove two hours to stand in the middle of a college campus and tell students their values are wrong and they’ll be condemned to eternal torment for holding them. Likewise, a soapbox preacher with a highly conservative message isn’t going to sway a ton of minds on a college campus.
Engaging the preacher gives him and his message power. Imagine if students ignored him and just walked by, giving little more than a passing glance to his doom saying. He would be deflated; a crazy man shouting to the wind. There’s nothing more pathetic than a comedian performing for an empty room.
Why is it that the least-deserving voices so often capture our attention? Why does Donald Trump get so much airtime for his antics when an in-depth look at his proposed policies shows his complete inability to run a country?
Why does a preacher draw a bigger crowd than SGA meetings, where students can actually engage issues on campus? Why does he draw a larger crowd than the Board of Trustees meetings, where students can see what those in charge are actually doing with tuition dollars?
Now, this isn’t to undermine the importance of standing up for students who are members of communities facing discrimination. The show of support is wonderful. However, it takes little time to toss out an opinion, climb aboard a high horse and ride off into a sanctimonious sunset, especially when the target of one’s ire is essentially a caricature of a human.
It takes a lot more effort to actually join YSUnity and help them work toward better campus conditions for LGBT+ students.
For a bit of irony, here’s a Bible verse that offers some perspective on the issue. While giving the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Essentially, he’s saying “don’t waste my message on people who refuse to see its value.” Pigs don’t have much use for pearls.
For the sake of this metaphor, consider a person’s attention as their pearl. No one should give their pearl to people who will squander its value on hateful and divisive ideas.
The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member. The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the advisor does not have final approval.