Students make signs in effort to counter protest


Olivia Swenson-Hultz

Elizabeth Wilson, a freshman 2d studio art major examines her winged sign which reads ‘Love is love’ which she made in preperation for a visit from Father Jed, whose controversial campus preaching tactics cause negative feelings. “i just think that we need to spread more love around so he dosn’t hurt anyone. I’ve been personaly insulted by Brother Jed and I know it hurts people to be told that their lifestyles are wrong” says Wilson

Loren Dickson, Entertainment Reporter

As the weather is warming up, many students are anticipating the return of Brother Jed.

Brother Jed is a religious preacher known for appearing on Eastern’s campus and shouting crude comments about women and members of the LGBTQ community.

In preparation for this, students, faculty members and community members got together and crafted signs Tuesday night.

Elizabeth Wilson, publicity chair member of EIU Pride, could be seen making wings out of a poster board expressing rejection of Brother Jed’s message.

Wilson said the inspiration to make wings was from counter protests that occurred across the country against the Westboro Baptist Church.

Protestors were seen wearing large wings and circling around the church members to block their appearance and their signs, which are deemed hateful to most.

“Your hate can’t stop me from soaring” and “Love is love” were colorfully printed on the back of the wings Wilson made.

“Like the Westboro Baptist Church, Brother Jed does things out of spite and hate rather than protest for something. They don’t really get their point across,” Wilson said.

Brother Jed previously yelled “whore” as Wilson walked by wearing an Eastern T-shirt that had rainbows printed on it.

“You don’t know me, so I don’t know what your presumptions are,” Wilson thought as Brother Jed yelled it out.

Brother Jed isn’t the only preacher who makes appearances at Eastern. Other churches make appearances to spread the word of their religion in a peaceful manner.

“I think that’s great if you want to spread your religion. That’s fine, but doing it in a way in which your Bible follows is what you should be doing,” Wilson said.

Although the community is not sure when Brother Jed will make another appearance on Eastern’s campus, it is expected that he will return at some point.

Others were also making buttons for people to wear around campus in support of everyone no matter their religion, race, gender or sexuality.

Judy Looby, a member of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG), was present Tuesday night to help put together these buttons.

“God loves everyone,” “Black lives matter,” “I am equally valid,” “Love is a many gendered thing,” “Trans lives matter” and “Not ashamed” are just some of the slogans that were printed on these buttons.

“We will support whomever Brother Jed spews his hatred towards, whether it’s women, blacks, LGBTQ, transgender or anyone else,” she said.

Looby was wearing a T-shirt with the message “Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie.”

“We can’t stop Brother Jed; he has free speech rights to come on campus and say what he does,” she said. “It hurts me when he does; my son is gay. So personally, it hurts and I hurt for everyone else as well.”

She said she hopes she can make a difference by being silent and wearing the buttons and shirts and holding up the signs.

Sue Dhermy, a PFLAG member, was helping a student work on a sign that read “Just because my skirt is short, doesn’t mean I want it.”

“We come out to help the student’s deal with Brother Jed’s hate,” she said.

Although Dhermy said she has not personally been a victim of Brother Jed, but she has been a victim of another church’s hatred.

“I know exactly how it feels,” she said. “There’s this whole controversy with free speech, but what he spews is hate speech. That’s how I personally feel about it.”

Dhermy, like many others, have family members and friends who identify with the LGBTQ community, and they are personally affected by the words that are spoken by Brother Jed and his fellow church members.

Several PFLAG members encouraged the Eastern community to remain peaceful and productive if Brother Jed returns to campus this semester.

Loren Dickson can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].