Brother Jed makes his comeback: Students engage with provocative campus preacher

Corryn Brock, Elizabeth Taylor

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Condoms, counter-preaching and criticism. These were all topics of discussion in the Library Quad Tuesday afternoon.

Elizabeth Wood
Jed Smock, a member of Campus Ministry USA, preached his faith in the Library Quad Tuesday afternoon. As Smock continued to preach, students came to challenge and question his views.

Jed and Cindy Smock, campus preachers, returned to Eastern for their 47th year of preaching, and many students came to listen to, engage with and observe the Smocks.

Many of the students who attended were visibly upset with the messages the Smocks were preaching.

Christian Walls, a sophomore political science major, said he disagreed with the message from a faith perspective.

“As a Christian man and growing up in a very Christian and faith-based home, I just don’t understand how he can sit here and preach this hate,” Walls said. “As Christians, we’re supposed to uplift people and pray for everybody.”

Keith Nelson, a junior TV and film production major, said he felt the messages being preached were hurtful.

“I believe everyone should have the right to say whatever the hell they want, but when you cross this line of hurting people, words do deliberately hurt,” Nelson said.

Cameron Craiger, a freshman science education major, said she felt his message was not based in Christianity.

“I heard about this and it really just upset me honestly because this isn’t what Christianity is,” Craiger said. “This is Old Testament ‘God is this authoritative figure that is putting us all to hell if we don’t obey him,’ that’s not what Christianity is; it’s loving one another and forgiving one another.”

Jed Smock said the message was meant to be offensive.

“It is offense. Jesus offended people, so much they tried to kill him more than once before they succeeded,” Jed Smock said. “Jesus’ disciples were regularly mocked, ridiculed, spat upon and mobbed.”

Jed Smock said he believes students do not agree with what he is saying because he it holds up a mirror to what he says is their poor morality.

Elizabeth Wood
Katryna Wilkes, a sophomore majoring in political science, walks with the Pride flag raised above her head after Jed Smock, a member of Campus Ministry USA, said gay people deserve to go to hell.
Wilkes said she did not attend the question-and-answer speech to argue with the Smocks, but to protest peacefully. “I’m not straight, so it makes me really angry when they say that kind of stuff,” Wilkes added, “because old me would have thought ‘oh, well, that’s right,’ and the person I am today is like ‘absolutely not.’ We aren’t going to hate ourselves because of what someone else says, and I want that to be a symbol for other people as well.”

“Often times I hear them talking about their sexual exploits and how wasted they got last night, and I call them drunkards and fornicators and whoremongers and sinful, and they don’t like it,” Jed Smock said. “Why? Because down deep they know they shouldn’t be doing this and so I’m a reminder of maybe what their parents maybe told them.”

Cindy Smock said the reason she and her husband preach is because they are concerned for the students.

“We really do love and care about the college students, but we’re here with tough love. Hell is reality; Jesus spoke of Hell more than he did of Heaven, and so we love them enough to tell them what they maybe didn’t hear in Sunday school or church,” Cindy Smock said. “They must forsake their sins and be born again and believe and obey Jesus.

Some students felt that while the message was offensive to them, the Smocks had the right to say what they said.

“I feel like students should keep their cool because it’s just someone’s opinion and it’s not like you’re going to change anybody’s mind,” said Joseph Locascio, a junior education major. “I see both sides of the table as long as people talk in a healthy way and a respectful way instead of kind of talking like a jerk to each other, then obviously that’s not a good thing.”

The Smocks were issued a trespass warning from the Indiana University Police Department on Sept. 11, according to an article from The Indiana Daily Student published on Sept. 12.

The trespass warning applies to the west side of Woodburn Hall for a year.

According to IDS, Jed Smock said he was unaware the warning only applied to that area and that he will return to campus if that is the case.

University Police Department Chief Kent Martin said there are limited circumstances in which he would ban a nonstudent from campus.

Martin said: “I am authorized to ban nonstudents from this institution; the only way I would do that would be if it was the result of a situation that posed a danger or risk to the university, the institution as whole or to any individuals, and by that I mean a threat of a physical attack or something like that … He has the right to express his views, and people have the right also to stand here and listen to him or to walk away and not listen to him.”

Students had opinions on the ban at Indiana University and the potential of Jed and Cindy Smock being banned from Eastern.

“It’s not illegal; if you don’t agree, you can walk away. IU did a good thing to improve their daily lives. I don’t agree, but I’m not going to talk to Eastern (about kicking them off),” said Jaylon Banks, a junior corporate communication major.

Grace Osborn, a junior clinical laboratory science major, said she felt the Smocks were using hate speech.

“He can have his freedom of speech elsewhere. This is starting to really affect people on campus and hurting people on campus,” Osborn said. “(Eastern) won’t (ban the Smocks from campus) because unlike IU, we’re not that liberal. This is hate speech; it’s not under freedom of speech.”

Michae Jewell, a graduate student studying music, said she wanted the Smocks to be banned from campus.

“It is my personal mission to kick them off campus,” Jewell said. “Jesus said love your neighbor, don’t spew hate.”

Jed Smock said he has hired a lawyer to get the ban dismissed.

“I have a lawyer; she’s working on getting that ban dismissed. She thinks it will be very soon because it’s free speech,” Jed Smock said. “If they don’t dismiss, we will of course explore other options.”

Some students said they were happy to hear the reactions from the crowd toward the Smocks.

“I feel like this is definitely a mixed crowd. There are some people who are standing up for their faith and saying, ‘this is not okay and this is not what we stand for; we’re spreading love,’ and I feel like we need more of that because then there are other people who are not Christians, and that’s OK, but they should know that not (all Christians) are like this,” Craiger said.

Walls said he enjoyed seeing an encouraging message from students.

“I just love the support from everybody because people are standing up and just like going against this bullshit,” Walls said.

Nelson said seeing the students speaking against the Smocks’ message gave him hope.

“When you’re criticizing certain races or religions or branches of religion or anything like that you’re separating, you’re dividing and that’s what this country is becoming,” Nelson said. “I believe this generation is going in the right path; we are accepting people for who they are and who they want to be no matter what they were born as.”

Some students felt it was best to just respect each other’s views and move on.

Locascio said: “People should just respect each other’s views and differences no matter the differences; I mean look, I’m wearing a Trump hat, you know what I mean? I respect anyone’s opinions; it’s mutual respect. As long as they respect me back in return that’s what matters. You know if it’s a liberal, a homosexual, a Muslim, as long as we respect each other’s opinions and views that’s what matters because we’re all people.”

When Jed Smock was told “I don’t think anybody liked (Jed Smock’s visit to Eastern). I think we all liked laughing at you,” by Peter Martynowicz, a freshman music major, Jed Smock replied, “And I liked laughing at you. So you laughed at us all day and we’ll drive home back to Terre Haute tonight and laugh about the stupid things you said and did. We’re all having a good time.”

Corryn Brock and Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].