Brother Jed’s history with Eastern


Ashanti Thomas

Brother Jed takes his turn to preach after his wife, Sister Cindy, on Sept. 13. He explains stories about his life and answers questions from students.

Rob Le Cates, Editor-in-Chief

George Edward “Jed” Smock Jr., known as Brother Jed to many college campuses, died on Monday, June 6, 2022, after 79 years of life.

Smock’s memorial service was live-streamed on his Facebook account. 

Frequenting Eastern with his wife Cynthia “Cindy” Lasseter Smock for more than nine years, the two preached “confrontational evangelism,” coined in the subtitle of his autobiography Who Will Rise Up?.

The two have gained popularity over the past few years on various platforms including Tik Tok and Instagram. A previous story highlighting the Smocks’ history on campus said their first documented appearance on campus was in 1978 published as a letter to the editor.

On May  1, 1978, Ruth Moore, a resident of Ford Hall, submitted a letter about a noise complaint in the Library Quad which disrupted her sleep and study times; an editor’s note says the letter was signed by 60 other students.

“Perhaps the worst offender is the infamous Jed Smock, who always has to preach outside of Ford Hall,” Moore wrote. “Only once has he been moved and that was under threat of arrest by security police.”

Over the years, students have had negative views of the Smocks.

In 2013, Taylor Bainter said she disagreed not only with Smocks’ message but also with their right to be on campus.

“It’s not the actual message, but how it’s being said,” Bainter said. “It’s on our campus, and they’re guests. We want to take back our campus.”

Like Bainter, in 2015, Cassidy Sullivan sat and tried to hear the preachers out but spoke out when their message crossed the line turning hateful.

Unlike those who were upset with them, some students played into the preachers’ beliefs, starting to make fun of them. 

In 2021, Maddin Herberger said he came out to see the Smocks because he had nothing else to do.

“I don’t believe anything that they’re saying. I’m just here for the homophobia and transphobia,” said Herberger, who was wearing a transgender pride flag as a camp.

The same year, Maya Walter stopped Cindy on her way back from the bathroom to get a selfie.

“She’s ridiculous and it’s funny to make fun of it,” Walter said. “I don’t take her seriously.”

In a Vice video last year highlighting the Smocks, Eastern Alumn Atlas Hennegan said they wore an outfit that would make the Smocks upset just to get a rouse out of them.

Although they aren’t happy he is gone, Hennegan said they are happy his hateful, negative messages are over.

Rob Le Cates is a sophomore journalism major. He can be reached at 217-581-2812 or at [email protected]