Controversial preachers return to campus

Philip+Winslow+preaches+in+the+Library+Quad+on+Wednesday+afternoon.+Winslow+is+an+intern+for+Brother+Jed+Smock%2C+who+travels+to+various+college+campuses+to+preach+his+message.+++

Corryn Brock | The Daily Eastern News

Philip Winslow preaches in the Library Quad on Wednesday afternoon. Winslow is an intern for Brother Jed Smock, who travels to various college campuses to preach his message.

Ryan Meyer, Staff Reporter

Brother Jed Smock and his fellow campus preachers set up camp in the Library Quad on Wednesday to spread their faith to passersby.

It wasn’t their first time visiting Eastern, and it likely won’t be their last.

Austin Slotnick, a senior trombone performance and music technology double major, brought his trombone to the North Quad to lighten the mood.

“I’ve come out here before, almost every year when he’s here, just to kind of cover him up, bring some light to everything with all the argument,” Slotnick said.

Slotnick was frustrated by Smock’s methods, he said.

“It irritates me, as I would hope it irritates most people. Mostly because it’s taking a religion and giving it a bad name,” Slotnick said. “I know how important religion is to people, and how useful it can be, and when it’s taken like this, and turned for hate, it’s just disgusting.”

Slotnick said he thought students’ reactions were warranted.

“I think a lot of the students are being very respectful in the way they’re kind of defending themselves and reacting to him,” Slotnick said.

Smock himself said that students’ behavior determines his provocative approach in communicating.

“We’re trying to take it to the rational level, but most students aren’t really governed by reason and they don’t know the laws of logic. They don’t know how to form an intelligent argument, and so they just come out here and emote. So of course we start it off not so much appealing to the rational factor but appealing to their conscious because that’s what gets people’s attention.”

Kennedy Tozer, a junior vocal performance major, questioned why Smock and his associates not only still visit Eastern, but also why the university continues to allow it.

“I just don’t get the point why they still come here, even though everybody hates them,” Tozer said. “I don’t know why the university still allows them to come honestly … I get that it’s like freedom of expression, but there’s also the part where they’re hating on people, and that’s not really something I think the university should allow.”

Tozer also wondered whether or not giving them attention was productive.

“Are we really making a difference by just standing here and yelling at them, or are we giving them what they want by giving them attention,” Tozer said.

Emily Becker, a senior psychology major, was against Smock’s stance on women’s place in the workforce.

“I was extremely offended by their tirade about how women should stay silent and never be in a position of authority over a man because Eastern teaches us that women can be leaders,” Becker said.

Liam Gardner, junior history major, was disappointed in the message that the campus preachers were spreading.

“I kind of look down on them,” Gardner said. “I’m not angry at them, I just think they’re kind of stupid … I guess ignorant is the right word.”

The students in attendance played music, sang and yelled at the preachers, which Gardner said he appreciated because it prevented the preachers from getting their message across.

“I think they’re doing a good job drowning them out. There’s two ways you can handle this. You can either ignore them and not give them any attention and maybe they’ll go away, maybe they won’t,” Gardner said. “But I think that drowning them out so no one can hear them is also a great thing.”

University President David Glassman said that if the preachers’ words bother students, the option to ignore them is always available.

“I certainly encourage any student that this bothers to certainly just walk past,” Glassman said. “He is not going to be effective, or his wife or his other associates will be not effective at all if there’s no audience to engage.”

Glassman noted that students can unite over their disagreements with Smock’s repetitive message.

“It’s pretty much the same every year, but what you often see is the solidarity of the EIU students coming together, where people are standing together,” Glassman said.

Although the crowd of students gathered around Brother Jed’s temporary area bothered Glassman, he was optimistic about the amount that were wearing masks.

“The problem that I’m having right now is that our students aren’t keeping social distance from each other,” Glassman said. “All of our students are wearing masks; I can’t see anybody not wearing a mask.”

“We’re here, we’ll probably be back,” Smock said. “We’ve been coming regularly to this campus.”

 

Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]