Whether students like it or not, everyone has the right to showcase their own propaganda in LSU’s Free Speech Alley. Recently, self-proclaimed “campus preachers” have taken to the alley to preach the good word of fanatical hate.
Just as the College Democrats have the right to set up shop outside of the Union, these radical Christians are authorized to do the same. As long as they don’t instigate or encourage physical harm, they are protected by their First Amendment rights.
Additionally, not a single soul takes them seriously, other than themselves. And since the preachers aren’t physically intimidating, they are nothing but comic relief for students between long lectures and labs.
Sometimes the height of your day can be to get some Chick-fil-A from the Union and engage with the preachers for entertainment. These extremists are willing to debate with anyone, even the girls in Nike shorts that they slut-shame.
But this debate is exactly what they want. According to a website run by Brother Jed, a long-time fixture at the University, they pointedly practice “confrontational evangelism.” On the website, you can also find a 2-hour long video teaching others how to handle a crowd of sinners, accompanied by an off-brand Stevie Nicks soundtrack.
One of the saddest things to witness is the elementary school field trips visiting the University, where kids have to walk past an old man screaming about "gays going to Hell." Similarly, it’s disappointing to see prospective LSU Kickoff students experience this kind of hate as a first impression when walking to the Union.
For a school that prides itself on diversity and inclusion, these preachers create an Islamaphobic and ableist space in front of one of the biggest meeting grounds on campus. It’s kind of funny to look down at your phone and see that the LSU Student Health Center created an Instagram post on emotional wellness, only to have someone on the same campus yell that mental health and depression is fake.
In addition to this, the preachers also denounce the consumption of alcohol and the act of “fornication.” Not to mention, most of these preachers love President Trump as if he were the second coming of Christ himself. Despite his multiple sex abuse allegations and divorces, they compare themselves to him and admire his ability to be “unafraid” in politics.
They not only discredit Christians worldwide, but they specifically hurt other evangelical organizations promoting themselves in Free Speech Alley. Students walking past these religious outcasts will tend to immediately invalidate other campus ministries as viable options, associating religion with these people.
While there’s not much the University can do to dismantle the organization from protesting on-campus, there is something that students have the ability to change. They can simply quit giving them the attention they want. Without attention or people caring, then their mission boils down to absolutely nothing.
Gabrielle Martinez is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Gonzales, Louisiana.