Students squared off with sign- and Bible-toting evangelists in the Arbor yesterday, eventually resulting in a UCPD response to the incident.
Three men holding signs with slogans like “Jesus Saves” and “Repent Sinner Trust Jesus” drew a crowd of approximately 75 to the Arbor yesterday, prompting angry shouts from several spectators and ultimately, a visit from UCPD officers. The self-described “confrontational evangelists,” who were preaching controversial Christian ideals and listing groups of different people “God would judge,” were eventually asked by officers to leave the premises after the situation provoked complaints about noise coming from the Arbor.
Several students expressed outrage at the slogans on the signs and the rhetoric of the evangelists.
“When I walked up he was talking about gays,” undeclared first year Dani Sangster said. “I have a cousin who is gay, and it really hit home. The things that these guys are preaching is just hate.”
UCPD Officer Mark Signa said he asked the preachers to leave after receiving several calls from people in the nearby Davidson Library complaining about excessive noise coming from the Arbor.
Signa said though he had to request that the men leave because of the excessive noise the demonstrators were provoking, they were generally respectful during their appearance in the Arbor.
“[These speakers are] very good at knowing their limits,” Signa said after the men left. “We try to respect the right to interact between students and these groups.”
Kevin Farrer, one of three demonstrators, said his group was demonstrating on campus in hopes of stimulating thought and conversation among passersby.
“People say to us, ‘we talked about you in class for three weeks,'” Farrer said. “We want to get Christians to be bold, and hope people really see a contrast between what is right and what is wrong.”
Farrer said he advocates a philosophy called confrontational evangelism, which specifically focuses on sin. This philosophy has not been popular with Christian-oriented campus groups because it sees the world as a hostile place for Christians and advocates confronting sin, he said.
“Most campus groups want more of a love and friendship approach,” Farrer said.
Second-year biochemistry major Eric Danner engaged in a conversation with Tom Griner, one of the evangelists. He said their preaching does not bode well with those who do not believe in God.
“They think that they’re speaking God’s words, and unless we believe that God exists, we draw into a defensive shell,” Danner said.
Students often cannot associate with this kind of rhetoric, Danner said, but it does serve as a valuable lesson.
“It enrages everyone out of our happyland stupor,” Danner said. “People see how awful ignorance is.”
Griner and Danner had an encounter earlier in the afternoon, when Griner asked him if he had sinned.
“If you’ve sinned against God, God will destroy you because you’re unholy,” Griner said.
According to Farrer, these types of demonstrations often become heated, but are rarely violent.
“Sometimes we get stuff poured on us,” Farrer said.