There are multiple preachers that come throughout the year to preach loudly on campus. One is confirmed to be the Pastor Tom Griner hailing from Carson City, NV. Earlier in the year he brought with him a construction worker from Fremont. The one who does most of the talking has been known to talk about his three virgin daughters, and to refer to claims that between twenty and thirty percent of college students have, or had, a sexually transmitted infection. (This statistic may come from a Columbia University Health Services study, Go Ask Alice, 1999).
They make quite a scene with their very large signs. Sometimes they draw a large crowd, composed mostly of students attracted to a scene and some who want to question or heckle the sign-holders. Many students pose questions on the order of, "What about dinosaurs?" and "Where did Cain get his wife?" that may be intended to sidestep the preachers' intended message. A few students are more daring and do things like distributing condoms or blowing them up into balloons. Some same-sex students have also kissed each other in front of the preachers.
From queries, their reasons for visiting Davis range from converting the students to the "correct, true, etc." path, to warn us about the what they see as student's sinning ways and the idea that there is nearing Judgment, and to provoke new thought in the students. Many students find their message to be un-Christian, homophobic, racist, sexist, narrow-minded and just plain mean, though others do not. Ultimately the message is in the eye of the beholder.
The preachers are from different groups. Tom Griner states that he is not affiliated with the man carrying the "You Make Me Sick" sign, and sees it as ridiculous. Griner's own sign usually reads, "Fear God," which he says is "controversial enough." He states that his message, though sensational, has afforded him the opportunity to pray with many students, and to have dialogue with still more. Some, he says, "are shaken and leave thinking."
Also, widely known is Brother Jed Smock, who had the most recent appearance on January 28th, 2008.
Fred Phelps is apparently coming to Davis pretty soon.
If nothing else, their actions serve as a catalyst for strong emotions and gut reactions, prompting debates and arguments among the student body and even those off-campus. The debates sparked by these demonstrations may be the strongest legacy of their visits to Davis.
April 26, 2005
The preachers draw a crowdChris McKenzie talking to one of them
April 28, 2005
The good Pastor Tom Griner of Las VegasNice shirt brah. ...just don't trust this guy.
May 16, 2005
|The Dude||With his favorite buddies in the background.||With his audience.||Nice sign.|
|Smoking?!||Fun with Frank!||Jeremiah and Frank, chillin' on the quad.|
|Frank, not in his favorite company.||Burn baby, burn!!||You make me sick!!|
January 17, 2006
Dick and Luke Otterstad, father and son preaching duo:
Counter sign: Kyuhee Baik, Emily Siu
November 7, 2006
January 28th, 2008
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2005-05-16 17:09:12 The Atheists and Agnostics had a banner out. —JimSchwab
2005-05-16 17:09:58 I noticed them (it was hard not to). One guy held a sign that detailed everything he hated. It was interesting that he included "Roman Catholics" and anyone who watched TV in the list. Another guy held a sign that said "Trust Jesus or Burn in Hell." The crowd seemed to be having a great time and at one point one of the guys put down his sign so he could arm wrestle a student challenger. It was all very amusing. —SharlaDaly
2005-05-16 17:59:52 The other flag was for the Davis Atheist/Agnostic Alliance or something along those lines when the younger of the two had mentioned that Atheists were the worst of all —JarredOral
2005-05-16 17:59:52 Let's see. To answer Edwin... I asked them to explain dinosaurs. I asked one of them if he would help me get my smog checked by sticking his mouth on my car's exhaust pipe. I asked the other if he thought God made him in one day, because it certainly looked as though god rushed it (thanks bill hicks). I also consistently yelled out contradictions to his argument, cheered for the flag people, and tried to get a bunch of people to get in on some Buddhist chanting. I think next time they come, we should get a loud stereo system and just stand in front of them, turn it up really loud, and drown out there shit. Also, would anyone be interested in getting together a group of say 100 students or so to contribute 1$ in order to create an equally big sign that says something we all agree upon. Something like, "ATTENTION: CIRCUS SIDESHOW OF OBNOXIOUS HUMAN BEINGS RIGHT HERE. COME ENJOY THE LAUGHTER" or perhaps something like "GOD HATES PREACHERS WITH BIG SIGNS." If anyone is interested, feel free to post up here. You could also send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.—MichaelGiardina
2005-05-16 22:37:45 I think showing hate and trying to shut them up is not the most productive way to respond. —KenjiYamada
2005-05-16 23:11:01 I don't think that's Bro Jed, unless there are, god forbid, two of them out there. The Official Bro Jed has come to Davis on occasion in the past, though. Looks like he skipped us this California tour. Aw shucks. —JessicaLuedtke
2005-05-16 23:43:36 Oops. I think his name was Jeremiah or Jedediah or something, so I assumed his name was Bro Jed. Someone post his correct name. —JeyKottalam
2005-05-17 09:32:19 Nice pics, Rob...I was cursing myself for not bringing my camera yesterday, but I'm glad someone got some good shots. —KalenRidenour
2005-05-17 10:58:28 I can never decide whether I hate these guys or love em for the hours of endless entertainment they bring. —GeorgeLewis
I'm glad they exist and are allowed to speak. Diversity of thought is always important. I'm also glad that their views are generally poorly viewed, but that's simply because I don't agree with them. They aren't here to debate, they are here to convert, and that's fine. Not my cup of tea, but then I drink coffee. I'd reserve negative feelings for the small-minded people who would try to silence them. —JabberWokky
Diversity of thought is important if everyone's open-minded. Close-mindedness and diversity of thought doesn't get us anywhere, and who could be more close-minded than these folks. These guys are certainly no less "small-minded" than someone trying to silence them may be. So you might as well express your distaste with these guys... — TheShah
2005-05-17 13:47:56 What could be more up-front than the fact that "women" is listed on that sign? —AmeliaCarlson
2005-05-17 13:52:35 It's actually "rebellious women". Hey, at least they don't have a problem with homosexuals in general, just the child molesting ones, and you know, I have a problem with them, too :) We can pretend that's what they mean, anyways.... —JessicaLuedtke
It does say 'rebellious women' +but+ while other multi-word categories used a continuous type, this one did not. Seems like some point is being made...
Actually, statistics show that very, very, very few pedophiles are homosexual, regardless of whether they attack boys or girls. Pedophiles are predominantly hetero. -GEL
Perhaps I should have been clearer. I have a problem with child molesters, regardless of their sexual orientation. —JessicaLuedtke
2005-05-17 14:15:17 Man, imagine working at Kinko's or someplace and having to fill the order on that "YOU MAKE ME SICK" sign. The fonts alone would be such a headache. —MikeIvanov
I think I should emphasize something that Kris said: whether or not it sounds like it would be a pleasant arrangement has absolutely no bearing on whether or not something is theologically true. — KenBloom
2005-05-17 21:51:16 Anybody have an idea what they meant by "ankle biters" and why they make them sick? I thought ankle biters referred to children (who you'd think would do less sinning than the lot of us). I'm confused, anybody have a guess? —AbbyLawson
2005-05-17 22:12:35 An "ankle biter" as they used it was someone who quipped a comment as they passed by, but didn't stick around for the guy to attack and yell at. —JeyKottalam
2005-05-17 22:12:35 I asked him this exact question. He told me that an ankle-biter is like a little dog that just makes a lot of noise and tries to bite your ankles, that an ankle-biter is someone who throws out judgments, comments, and random words that are intended to flame the recipient without encouraging respectful conversation. Although this is, in fact, what most people do to them (harass)... it seemed to me that these guys weren't aware that this is exactly what they do as well. Another interesting point I'd like to bring up, is that one of the guys claimed that being liked was something that would very much frighten him. He cited passages from the bible, wherein jesus said that true messages must be spread through harsh resistance. He then said that if he went anywhere and everybody liked him, that he would feel quite scared. This is really interesting, if not for the message but for psychology. What would cause such a self-concept? —MichaelGiardina
2005-05-18 08:39:33 Some guy who I recognized threw a cup of water at Jeremiah yesterday. I don't know about everyone else, but that sounds like an idiotic idea. Everyone pretty much agree? —GeorgeLewis
2005-05-18 09:17:04 Well, I can see why someone would throw water on him. He thinks he's preaching about God, but instead he's preaching hate towards others not exactly like himself. Personally, a person walking around with a big sign telling me that I am going to burn in hell b/c I am catholic that to me is a reason to perhaps "cool" this lunatic off with a glass of water. Who does he think he is after all to say others are going to hell when he is the one preaching intolerance and hate. —AshleyOrsaba
2005-05-18 09:21:18 Well, he is clearly wrong. But I am wrong about a lot of things, you don't throw water on me. Actually I am never wrong, that was just an example. Also, doing crap like that makes them feel really good about themselves, makes them feel justified, almost like martyrs if you will. That feeling of satisfaction would prefer not to let them have. That is just sinking below their level and completely uncalled for. You have to remember this is coming from the president of AGASA! —GeorgeLewis
2005-05-18 12:53:18 I don't think it's fair to claim that they're preaching hate. These preachers don't hate (for example) homosexuals—they love homosexuals, and want them to go to heaven. But according to the preachers' own beliefs, the homosexuals CAN'T go to heaven until they stop being homosexual, so, out of love—NOT hate—the preachers try to convince the homosexuals that their behavior is wrong. Of course, I disagree with their assumptions here, but I do think that they honestly believe it themselves. Disagree with the preachers if you want, but don't call them hateful. Furthermore, I don't recall ever seeing Brother Jed (the guy who's so proud of his three virgin daughters) with a big sign, so I'm not sure he should be listed here. I like Brother Jed. He dresses nicely, speaks eloquently (although rather loudly), and occasionally makes good points (although his "facts" often could use a bit more research). I once chased down a thief who stole Jed's Bible and convinced him to give it back; in gratitude, Jed gave me a copy of his book <i>Who Will Rise Up?</i> I disagree with Jed on many issues, but he's a pretty cool guy nonetheless. AND he rejects the doctrine of original sin, which gains him a LOT of points in my book. —BarnabasTruman
When he was here a few years back (I guess it must have been 1999), one of his daughters, who was about 10 at the time, was there with him. She was an amazing speaker, especially considering the hostility of the crowd. I don't agree with their theology, but still found her very admirable (as well as quite friendly and ordinary when talking one on one), and I've wondered since then who she'll grow up to be. —JessicaLuedtke
2005-05-18 15:55:51 I disagree. The preachers (May 16) are preaching with hate and malice. I really don't see how a sign that says "You make me SICK" could possibly convey love. I think it certainly had a different tone from the April 28th appearance despite the fact that it's some of the same guys. The earlier signs only said things like "WARNING" as if the preachers were trying to help sinners get to heaven, not insult them. —AbbyLawson
These were different guys. On the 15th (I think) there were two groups of preachers here but they didn't come together and didn't really know eachother. They didn't play to be here on the same day. Pastor Tom Griner and company are not nearly as extreme as Jeremiah and Frank. That is why the signs are different. Also, the signs are merely to attract attention. Jeremiah admitted he didn't really have a problem with some of the things on there, for example non-christian tattoos (as long as they were blasphemous or offensive. Either way, anyway you look at it, they are pretty much wrong about everything, regardless of their attitudes or motivations. -GEL
2005-05-18 18:19:18 Do these guys have jobs? How do they eat? Where do they live? —ArlenAbraham
2005-05-18 21:53:33 They don't eat... or sleep for that matter. That's why they're so successful. Gratz to all who yelled at them. Just a warning though: engaging in debate with these guys is a bad idea because they don't come to convince people intellectually, but rather to provoke. If you want reasoned debate, I invite you to check out the Agnostic and Atheist Student Association. Anyway, I like having these guys around because it provides for an entertaining lunch hour. —JustinKhoo
2005-06-04 09:33:24 I respect most of these people and in fact, downright admire them. Although I completely disagree with what they are saying, look at what they are doing. These are real people, with real families, real homes. They are not getting paid to do this and are probably not supported financially at all. Within their framework, within how they think, they don't hate jewish people, or gays, or what not; for the most part. Moreover, they are there with the signs to attract the unsaved. They want to save us from our sinful ways so we don't go to hell. They are out there because they want to help us. That is why I respect them although I disagree with them. And oh yeah, the people out there from the LGBT center - total and complete assholes. —ChristopherMckenzie
2005-07-22 00:29:45 You may be right that they don't "hate" gays or Jews, but they certainly hate Mormons. Are they really deserving of any accolades for yelling at people, telling them they're going to suffer for eternity, and telling Mormons they hate them? —JustinKhoo
2005-07-22 01:50:45 JustinKhoo... The answer to your question is: no. —MichaelGiardina
2006-01-17 16:09:43 That's pretty clever, to connect MLK to anti-homosexuality. Kudos. —RoyWright
2006-01-17 21:12:27 The best part about Dick and Luke on the 17th of Jan... this guy ran up while they were mid-protest to announce he was going to go home and "Tonight I'm going to assfuck my girlfriend!" —AdamGhazi-Tehrani
2006-01-17 22:49:07 I walked through the quad today, late to class, and I saw the signs and a man yelling at the man with the sign. Did anyone stick around to hear the whole bit? And that sign that read "MLK [does not equal] Tolerance"? WTF? —KarlaFung
2006-01-17 22:55:22 I thought it said MLK (not equal) Intolerance, as a protest back at the preachers? —AllisonEriksen
2006-05-15 00:34:09 Isn't Racism and Sodomy bad things? —CarlosOverstreet
2006-10-10 14:32:51 Hey, they were here today, anyone got pictures? The abortion guy joined in so it got rather fun. —DavidPoole
2006-10-10 14:35:06 They were there today, but they got outclassed by the fire department demonstrations. At least at the noon passing time, no one seemed to pay them much attention —ErinBadillo
2006-10-10 14:35:53 Actually I am glad these people exist. —DavidPoole
2006-10-10 18:39:28 They live to yell at people, I'd say they're addicted to the thrill. One day, everyone should all decide to ignore them and they wont have any fun. —KarlMogel
2006-10-22 10:43:17 They probably are making such inflammatory signs to get a response of anger and hate. They feel probably that by being virtually crucified and mocked by the populace that it makes them like Christ on the cross, and therefore, a better Christian. A martyr of sorts, despite the fact that they're just acting obnoxious, and are thus getting mocked and attacked. —MatthewTom
2006-10-22 15:04:54 I think these guys are funny, and it always puts me in a philosophical mood when I see them yelling their absurdities. Not because of what they're saying, but because people crowd around. The other day there was a guy with a religious sign getting tons of attention and a girl on a skateboard with an "I give Free Hugs" sign that was getting no attention. Why? Anyway, if someone were to come up with a "GOD HATES PREACHERS WITH BIG SIGNS", I'd totally pitch in a buck. You could probably get more than you paid for the sign if you put out a hat and a small sign saying "help me pay for the big sign". —AmyGoogenspa
2006-11-01 16:33:14 Well at least all the majority of homosexual who are not childmolesters aren't going to hell —BrianTrott
2006-11-13 16:52:38 I wish these guys would go away. They just hurt my religion. Unfortunately every group has their nut cases (right-wing nutjobs, terrorists, etc.) and the nuts are always the loudest. These guys do not represent the whole of Christianity, in fact they don't really represent any of it. They don't convert anyone and they are actually driving people away from Christ. Jesus never stood in a public place and screamed at people with a big sign telling them they are going to burn in hell. He visited the homes of the people who were hated the most in his day (prostitutes, tax collectors, Romans) and told them that God loves them, forgives their sins, and wants them to come to heaven. The message these guys preach is completely different and I appreciate them making a mockery of my religion about as much as a Muslim appreciates a terrorist going on TV saying that it is the will of Allah to kill innocent people. One more thing, I saw a sin-list sign that had 'football fans' on the list and I thought, "Football fans?!?" —JamesHaile
2006-11-16 00:25:12 To speak for the reasonable Christians, they do not represent the teachings of Christianity. Christianity is about love for all people in the world, regardless of what wrong things they do. Another principle teaching is that judging is not something that you should do because we all have done bad things and therefore cannot judge others because if we do we are hypocrites. So I apologize on behalf of reasonable Christians who do not support the way these pepole preach their message. If you want to really know about Christianity, not be trying to convert you, but just a conversation, feel free to contact me. —ChrisDietrich
2007-02-14 02:43:30 These guys are cool. I welcome them as well as equally cool ultra-liberals. —GregWebb
2007-02-14 11:24:15 Last october they gave me a "sin test" I failed and was judged a bad person...I love free speech, it lets nutjobs bring signs to campus and lets everyone else have a laugh —AndrewPeake
2007-02-14 11:43:49 You should have taken that Internet Dante's Test, it's the only true way to know. —SteveOstrowski
"For some, this issue raises the larger question of what really constitutes hate speech. They wonder, is it necessarily hateful for a person to express a moral conviction that calls into question another person's behavior? In their view, the answer cannot always be yes. Otherwise it would be considered hateful to speak against such things as greedy CEOs, deceitful government officials, theft, or murder, things that social consensus finds abhorrent. On the other hand, they contend, the issue cannot turn only on social consensus. Then the question would become, at exactly what point, in terms of the ratio of public opinion, does it become “hateful” to express a contrary conviction? What do we do with such dissenters? And if the dissenters later become the majority, what then? Therefore, they argue that social consensus alone is an ineffective and unreliable guide for either moral behavior or classifying speech. They claim that the current method of classifying hate speech is inadequate because it categorizes people (for example, preachers) as hateful simply because their message may be offensive, even though they may not actually feel hate toward anyone.
This problem became all too clear in a January, 2007, round-table discussion aired on National Public Radio, wherein panel members and callers struggled unsuccessfully to answer the question of whether certain “hate” words were ever considered appropriate to use, and if so, under what circumstances. Some guests argued that racial epithets such as the “N word," or words that are targeted at a person’s sexual orientation, were never appropriate and always qualified as hate speech. Other guests pointed out that very many people groups use such words amongst themselves in affectionate, playful contexts, and have in fact appropriated them for legitimate use. For example, many gays frequently refer to each other using the “F word," and African Americans often use the “N word" amongst themselves. But the apparent rules become fuzzy because those words are also used affectionately by people across boundary lines. Close friends of different races and/or sexual orientations frequently use “inappropriate” words with each other in an irreverent, playful manner, in contexts where neither party becomes offended. The program’s guests and callers disagreed on whether society should attempt to arbitrarily prohibit or discourage this sort of speech.
Some argue that arbitrary systems of speech classification ultimately fail because the question of what qualifies as hate speech really turns on what the hearers believe about the speakers’ thoughts or intentions.
Some people look to genetics as a possible guideline. If certain behaviors are hardwired into a person’s essential framework by evolution, they argue, then it can hardly be appropriate to call those behaviors into moral question. For decades, there has been an effort in many quarters to find a genetic basis for sexual orientation. Some scientists claim their work on this front has begun to furnish answers, though other scientists disagree. A possible problem for those who seek to explain sexual orientation on the basis of genetics is that scientists also claim to have isolated genetic origins for behaviors such as lust, greed, theft, racism, promiscuity, and adultery. (How convenient, say moralists, that everything our forefathers taught us was immoral, can now be defended on the basis of our genes.) Still other scientists claim to have identified genetic sources for traditionally “good” parts of the human experience, such as faith and love. If everything can be explained on the basis of genetics, then, of course, all moral bets are off. But then offensive speech must receive the same protections, along with speech that is often merely uncomfortable, such as public preaching.
It's is also important to remember that the term "hate speech" is purely subjective, and therefore defies formalized definition or classification, which makes it a dangerous and unpredictable focus of litigation. All speech that carries a viewpoint is, and should continue to be, protected free speech, from Larry Flint to the Amish. That does not prevent a person from judging somebody else's views as abhorrent, but their ability to voice their views is one of our first liberties and a cornerstone of a free and equal society. The fact that extreme views of intolerance can exist is a, perhaps strange, but certainly eloquent confirmation of the tolerance and freedom of our society. As a result there are people who support their activities and condemn their views. " Eric Robinson
2007-02-26 15:13:02 After being referred to this page by the 'COTD' entry, all I can say is: At least the Otterstads' Christianity is real, not the sugar-coated, trendy 'coffee shop Christianity' that the majority of 'Christians' emulate. Hold those signs high and keep up the good work, Dick and Luke! —MarieGruca
It is great to see the unbiased opinion of an indivdual from out of town, welcome to the wiki? ~DavePoole
2007-02-28 13:48:00 Out of curiosity, why do they need to be countered? —EricRobinson
Political gain, personal satisfaction and amusement. But when it comes to these types of issues it's best to make a game out of it. The fact of the matter is that Preachers with Signs gives conservative Christians a bad name, but there is also the opportunity to take the high road and dismiss these guys. —SteveOstrowski
2007-03-01 11:28:16 Christians probably can't do much to avoid earning what many people consider to be a bad name. People want to sin, and they want to try to feel good about themselves anyway. Some Christians believe that if they love people, they have a responsibility to remind them of the truth, even if it means enduring a predictable backlash. Except for a few fruitcakes, most of these Christians do not relish the response they know they will get, but they accept it. After all, their Leader warned them to expect people to hate them, just as they hated Him—that is, Christ. As one Christian famously put it, "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." — John the Apostle. I respect some of these Preachers with Signs. They make me ask myself if there is anything I believe in strongly enough that I would stand with a sign, surrounded by a crowd of mockers, just in case I might be able to reach one or two. —EricRobinson
The fact of the matter is that there are churches and Christian organizations already in place here in Davis and at the university. These preachers come down for a day, cause disruption and leave. That isn't anywhere close to the hours and dedication the other Christian organizations put into ministry to students. And as for the Bible, if one is disruptive to the congregation by causing factions and leading people away then those Christian organizations can biblically refuse to associate themselves with these preachers. —SteveOstrowski
2007-03-01 15:05:11 Judging from the smiles and bemused expressions on many faces in the pictures, I'd say the disruption is harmless. As you personally stated, you like to screw with them for amusement's sake. As for the Christian organizations on campus, more power to them. My daughter is heavily involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I can easily see both perspectives. Sometimes it is good for outside parties to come in and stir things up. It gets everyone's blood pumping a little faster and makes people think and talk and get creative. If the campus organizations are smart, instead of complaining, they'll figure out a way to springboard off these events without denigrating the preachers involved, some of whom are good men. —EricRobinson
2007-03-01 15:48:35 That is a good point. I know a few campuses that have folks pledge to pay five bucks for every hour these guys are on campus. The money goes to the QSU or LGBTIQ center. It would be kinda fun to tell them they are "fundraising" for us. —AndrewPeake
That's the spirit because every gay pride parade on UC Davis increases donor support for conservative groups on and off the UC Davis campus. Generally displays of any nature are used by the opposite organizations for exploitations. In reality activists (unless collecting money or influence) are pawns for the other side. —SteveOstrowski
2007-03-01 15:55:14 See, now there you go. It could be a symbiotic relationship. My guess is that these guys would not mind a bit to know about the fundraising program as long as they get to preach. Everybody wins. :-) —EricRobinson
Thanks for adding to this discussion, it has been really positive I think. Honestly it would be kinda nice to do even more to make these guys a positive experience, because many see them so negatively, and I personally am glad whenever they come, not because I wish them to convert people, or spread a message, but that it does indeed make people think, though some will get angry, they are not harmed, and they will think about it, and why we allow people here to yell and shout their beliefs, I am honestly glad that these individuals can come to show us what a great land this is that it allows people the freedom to express themselves and act according to their heart and passion, does anyone know when they are coming again? ~Dave
I agree to a point, but I would say that events like the Christian/Muslim debate have more knowledge content and inspire more thinking than these guys. Anyone can shout out stuff and be obnoxious. However, if one is theologically inclined you could get a decent debate going. —SteveOstrowski
2007-03-01 23:05:51 Rather than debating, I want to be a person of conviction with a clear message and simply trust that those with "an ear to hear" will hear. That's mainly how Jesus worked. A small % of his audience "got it," and the rest were either ambivalent or angry. He didn't debate much with the latter two groups. He just stated the unvarnished truth and let the chips fall. When he did "debate," his zingers were so cool that his opponents' jaws dropped, but the evidence suggests that these came extemporaneously from the Father, not from clever argumentation. Interestingly, it does say that Jesus raised his voice loudly and shouted stuff in public places. His critics probably considered him arrogant, obnoxious, and narrow-minded when he said stuff like, "All you who are weary and weighed down, come to me and I will give you rest," and "No man comes to the Father except by me," and "I am the Good Shepherd. All who came before me were thieves and robbers." —EricRobinson
There should only be one united Church where there is only one message. Preachers with Signs divides Christians and disrupts their operations. There is the carrot and then there is the stick. You will find that the stick doesn't usually work on a university campus. Your morality may be sound, but the tone and body language equate hate to people. It means you need a better PR department, not necessarily a new message. But I think that generally people like Preachers with Signs divide Christian denominations into smaller denominations and sects, and this division is not helpful. -SteveOstrowski
2008-11-20 15:02:37 The "You make me sick" sign makes me sick. But "People that talk to pets more than god" made me laugh. Hey, if 'God' is omnipresent, aren't pets 'God'?
2009-01-16 22:13:29 Our very own preachers with signs made it onto holytaco.com The preachers with signs have become an internet phenomenon! Link:
2009-02-27 14:37:18 I saw someone trying to debate with one of them a few weeks ago. He just yelled at them and talked so loud that the other person couldn't say anything. I'm pretty sure then he proclaimed himself the winner because the other person walked away. —WaylandLee
2010-03-24 01:48:07 I was pleased to find that God had not permitted the Westboro Baptist Church folks to make it out of Kansas this year; apparently they had car trouble. The would probably blame the devil, but I suppose that's besides the point. My name is Mike; that's me holding the "God does not hate you (and I think you're pretty cool)" sign in Chris's final pic. I suppose that if God needs us to tell people how evil and vile they are, then he isn't God.
There was recently a priest in Russia, Fr. Danil Sysoyev, who preached that any religion touting a God who requires blood of those who disagree with Him is but a demonic lie. Fr. Danil was murdered by an Islamic extremist shortly thereafter. His final sermon offers a healthy and non-judgmental correction to these self-styled preachers of the God who "so loved the world": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unIrR38NHf8 . What kind of twisted love places such impossible conditions on its intended recipients? "Love me or I will kill you" is not the love which Jesus reveals in the Gospel.
The preachers have a right to free speech on a public campus. According to the constitution, unless they are infringing upon public health, safety, or morals, then they can say whatever they want. I happen to be a big supporter of the constitution.
Nevertheless, there needs to be a deliberate and conscious response on the part of the Davis community and specifically the Christian subset of that community. The university cannot, and I believe, should not involve itself, so I guess it's up to us.
I am pleased with the growing response from the local Christian community. I believe the best response it can make is twofold: one, that it should offer an alternative voice to onlookers without offering any attention to the visiting preachers, and two, that it should provide some positive distraction. The worst response possible would be to offer any attention to the itinerant preachers. I have heard that this past year there were plans for the Davis Swing Dancers club (which has a large overlap with the local evangelical Christian community) to have a prolonged dancing event on the quad for the duration of the preachers' visit to serve as a distraction. I have been told the event was still a success despite the preachers being absent, and I hope it will continue to be a success in the future when they are present.
On the whole, I believe that the Davis community is intelligent enough to know that that the name of "Jesus" is not a weapon, and that the sign-wielders do not offer a fair representation of the Christian message. For those who would like to chalk it all up to a blanket category of "organized religion," a social phenomenon, I would suggest that the same kind of hateful speech can be made without religion, and that the arts as a non-religious social phenomenon could be just as easily implicated as being a vessel of hate if in the hands of the wrong persons, e.g. Josef Goebbels. I doubt there are many anti-religionists who would suggest we do away with the arts as a solution to our social ills.
To conclude, you don't have to be straight, calvinist, biblical inerrantist, anti-feminist, or even pro-life for God to love you. You don't even have to believe in Him, if I may use the masculine pronoun. All you have to do is be. That's enough. How you respond to that love is completely up to you, because love is found only in freedom.