Religion in Bloomsburg: The Voices
Editor’s Note: All names of persons interviewed have been omitted.
Some voices rang out in anger, others voices in disgust, a few voiced their support, however there was little silence on the Student Service patio of Bloomsburg University.
On a normal Wednesday afternoon students usually busy themselves with daily requirements; homework, class, meetings, the gym, however today, Wednesday, Nov. 6., many students, faculty and observers added religious debate to their daily routine.
Some students held up signs, others snapped pictures and videos, some voiced their beliefs and some simply watched. In the early morning hours till the late afternoon, crowds that ranged from a few observers to a quarter of the college, sat, stood and argued.
“I think this is ridiculous, I feel like they are trying to push their religion on us and what they are saying are offensive to the students and I feel that students who pay to go to this school should not be ridiculed about their sexuality,” said an anonymous student. The student was commenting in response to the traveling Christian group that has visited the Bloomsburg University campus two previous times in the past week. The Christian group which goes by the name ‘You are Sinners,’ has attempted to preach and spread religious beliefs to students and campus residents.
Since their arrival on campus many students have come to both listen respectfully and have protested their presence on campus and their beliefs.
“I absolutely hate it that these people showed up cause they are giving all Christians a bad name. I am a Christian, but I am bisexual, and I hate it that these people give all Christians such as bad name,” said another student who spoke several times in protest of the preachers.
Many students questioned as to why they are even permitted to be on campus. “This is a public campus, they are allowed to come to the campus and preach as long as they do not threaten bodily harm,” said an anonymous Bloomsburg University faculty member.
According to the preachers they have visited several campuses around the country such as Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University, which are all public schools.
“I am a student at Bloomsburg University and I am a Christian. I am not afraid to say that. But the aspect what they are saying, you can look in the bible and what they are saying is truth. From my standpoint I see there is truth in it, but the way going about it…the bible teaches us love. And when they yell they are not teaching us about love. Do they sometimes attack an individual? Possibly. That not the most loving manner…I just want to be out here to love other people,” said another student. “I think there are a lot of people out here just to argue, like they could be up here talking about how potatoes are the best and some one else will argue about how tomatoes are the best,” the student continued. However potatoes were not the topic of discussion that the preachers have spoken about.
Topics discussed, argued and protested ranged from evolution, feminism, sex slavery, adultery, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights and abortion. At one time during the protest, one of the three preachers held up poster size photos of two aborted babies, many students that were interviewed in the crowd felt disturbed by the photos and several commented that they were grotesque and unsuitable for children to see. “There are children here under the age of 8, they (the ‘You are Sinners,’ preachers) are saying cursing is not ok for them (the children) to hear but seeing dead babies is?,” asked one student.
Two children under the age of 6 were in attendance to the preaching. It is BUnow’s policy to not release any minor’s name without the consent of the parents or legal guardians. The children were confirmed to be one of the preacher’s children. Earlier in the day, the young ones were given microphones to sing Christian hymns, quote various bible verses, and according to one witness to speak about their beliefs regarding negative views on the LGBT community.
The group made it clear to several people that they were not associated with the Westboro Baptist Church. “They preach hatred where as we preach love,” said one of the preachers who on several occasions refused to say their names. Along with the abortion signs, the preachers held up several others, including one which just simply said, love.
Students also made signs in protest of what they described as an invasion to their peace on campus. One student who identified herself as a proud member of the LGBT community made two signs saying, “If God doesn’t love you, I will,” and ” (Expletive Word) this guy.” Many have question whether this was an appropriate response to the preachings of the ‘You are Sinners’ group.’ “You are just giving them the satisfaction they want when you use curse words rather then giving a valid argument,” another student commented.
Today marks the third time the ‘You are Sinners’ Christian preachers have been on campus, when asked if they would return, they replied they would be back, but did not give an exact date.
Photo credit to A. Zoe Baldwin.