A group of evangelical street preachers sharing anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ and anti-evolution messages drew a crowd of student protestors to the Rock on Wednesday, April 24 just before noon. About 20 student protestors gathered in disagreement with the preachers despite the rain.
Although a preacher from their group can usually be expected to be on the Quad every Wednesday, this time they held signs advertising their website, “Sin Awareness Day.” According to the site, Don Karns, who was present, is “a born again believer,” and street preacher. Members of the group can be found weekly with a sound system, which allows them to be broadcast to more members of campus.
Geoff Kirkland, another preacher present at the Rock, shared his beliefs with the crowd of protestors.
“The Bible declares there is only one way to escape hell, and that one way to escape hell is not your religion. It’s not found in yourself, [and] it’s not found in how good you think you are,” Kirkland said. “The only way to heaven is to come on God’s turf, and God has declared that there is salvation in no other name. There is salvation from eternal hell in no one else.”
Students involved in the protests expressed their anger over the preachers’ words and beliefs. Nate Finn, a freshman anthropology major from Chicago, said he believed most student protestors were there because of the preachers’ words against the LGBTQ community.
“I think it’s great they have the ability to come and preach here, but, as soon as they come here and put other people down, that’s when I don’t think it’s OK,” Finn said.
Freshman anthropology major Emily Halasey, of Collinsville, Illinois, said she has been upset in the past by the preachers’ words.
“I have a problem because there was one day when I was walking by, and I’m going to change a little bit of the wording, but he said, ‘God fates hags.’ I’ve heard him say that,” Halasey said. “As a bisexual woman, I was really upset, especially with a bunch of transgender people here. So, when I saw this was possibly a protest, I got really excited because I’m so tired of him just spreading hate on campus for no reason.”
The preachers, who also included Mike Stockwell, held signs that said “Evolution is a Lie” and “Saved?”
Junior applied communication studies major Kenzie Miller, from Troy, Illinois, said she believed the preachers’ views were misrepresenting Christians. Miller was not a part of the protest but offered her comment to The Alestle after passing by.
“Whenever I pass by, it seems that the guy preaching says some crazy/judgmental things. I just wanted to say that, as a Christian, it hurts my heart to think that he may be misrepresenting Christians. So please don’t shape your view of Christianity/God off of him, [because] God is love,” Miller said.
As The Alestle previously reported, similar protests have developed in the past, although it is not believed the preachers from past events are part of Karn’s group.