The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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Religious protestor draws crowd at EIU

Sophomore+Kenzie+Harrell%2C+a+sport+management+major+%28left%29%2C+and+sophomore+Abbey+Boyars%2C+a+neuroscience+major%2C+argue+with+Chris+Svochak+protesting+sins+in+the+Library+Quad+Thursday.
Iyanna Stanton
Sophomore Kenzie Harrell, a sport management major (left), and sophomore Abbey Boyars, a neuroscience major, argue with Chris Svochak protesting sins in the Library Quad Thursday.

Editor’s Note: This story was edited to include the full name of the protestor Chris Svochak. Previously, he had only identified himself as Chris.

A religious protestor on the Library Quad drew dozens of students to form a counterprotest Thursday afternoon. 

The man, who only identified himself as Chris Svochak, held a sign of various activities and groups of people who he believes to be sinners. 

The man told people directly that they are going to hell and that they are sinners. He vocalized these beliefs to people who engaged with him and those who were passing by.

Religious protester Chris Svochak debated with students about religious practices Thursday. He poses a sign with what he called different types of sins and activities dishonoring God. (Iyanna Stanton)

He said other religions and other sects of Christianity were fake. The man stated that he was a saint, saying God chose him to spread his message. 

The protester arrived on campus in the late morning hours. Word quickly spread about the event through word of mouth and through various social media platforms. 

Kristian Cedar, a freshman majoring in psychology, was passing by the protest coming out of class. He was curious about what was going on and went over. He had advice for Christians who want to reach out to the LGBTQ+ community. 

“I wouldn’t blame them, and by blaming them I mean saying that they’ll go to hell or they’re being punished for the way they feel,” Cedar said. 

Many students came to voice their support for the LGBTQ+ community after Svochak yelled various homophobic tropes about the community, calling them “pedophiles” and “child groomers.” 

The man also said homosexuality can be cured, saying how he himself used to be gay before repenting approximately five years ago. 

Some of the counterprotesters brought various pride flags to show their solidarity and express themselves. One protestor even bought pride-themed merchandise at the campus bookstore because of the protest. 

Many counter protesters confronted the man, asking questions about religion and various subjects relating to Christianity. Some of the counter protestors were Christians themselves, saying the man was misinterpreting the Bible. 

Tatianna Stringer, a sophomore majoring in health administration said, “I do have a relationship with God, and I feel like this is not putting the best light on Christianity. I believe it’s bringing more division among everybody else because it’s portraying something that may not be fully true.”

Sophomore Jullian Deters, psychology major (top), and freshman Evelyn Bogard, secondary education major, stand alongside other students protesting against Svochak’s sin protest. Bogard wears their LGBTQ+ flag as a rebuttal in the Library Quad. (Iyanna Stanton)

A student, identified by a secondary source as Ethan Lozada, came to the event dressed in a costume of Jesus. 

Lozada confronted the protestor directly and had a heated exchange with him about Christianity.

Many people in attendance voiced their support for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Some people in attendance voiced their support for Svochak’s right to protest and some of his message but thought his approach was wrong. 

Some attendees voiced opposition to both the religious protestor and the counterprotestors, saying that both sides were purposefully stoking division to anger the other. 

The protest drew the attention of the EIU Police Department, who monitored the event to ensure violence would not break out. The crowd was moved by police around 1:30 p.m. due to the protest disrupting students’ exams in nearby McAfee Gym. 

 

Jacob Hamm can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributors
Jacob Hamm, Reporter
Jacob Hamm is a junior journalism major and can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].
Iyanna Stanton, Campus Reporter
Iyanna Stanton is a sophomore journalism major. This is her second semester at The News.

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