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Campus protester doesn’t speak for all Christians

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Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

Evan Roberts

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Editors note: This opinion article is a response to Students protest campus preacher

A preacher from Consuming Fire Ministries visited Chico State Nov. 7 to preach at Trinity Commons on campus.

The impression given from The Orion news story and from my friends who heard the man on campus was that he was advocating against the LGBTQ community among other things. In the news story and in the video that reported on the event, there weren’t any truly inflammatory remarks from the man in that regard.

The most controversial statement in the video was Brother Matt saying “this is why we are going to hell in a hand basket” while pointing at the protestors with signs standing in front of him.

While Matt may very well have been saying statements that I directly disagree with like “God hates fags” or “Gays are going to hell” like those said by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, I couldn’t find anything showing that he actually had.

I’m certainly not agreeing with any such sentiments, but it seems as if students at universities are often too quick to jump to conclusions and to demonize someone with opposing viewpoints.

Last spring another preacher came to campus with a similar message. Again from the coverage, I couldn’t conclusively say if Ronald Underwood, the visiting preacher, would agree with the statement that “God hates fags,” but the coverage and the surrounding protestors certainly would lead you to believe that.

My point here is that often people desire to have an enemy and a voice to shout out against, and in that heat, people’s viewpoints can be exaggerated or completely twisted.

I wouldn’t defend the Westboro Baptist Church, but I can clearly see their direct and obvious hate. I’m not defending any statements from the speaker necessarily, but I also wish that others would be quick to listen and slower to assume what someone is saying.

And to the credit of Chico State’s LBGTQ community and its allies, they responded admirably that day. Protesting peacefully with signs and numbers was a very appropriate and powerful way to respond.

All this being said I disagree with anyone who would preach that God hates any specific group of people because of their actions or lifestyles. I am a Christian and although I consider myself a fairly immature one I’d still like to try and clear up a few things.

To Brother Matt and other such visiting campus preachers, your methods of yelling at people walking by never seem to work. Without listening to those who you’re yelling at, your words will just fall upon deaf ears.

And if you were saying that God condemns specific groups of people to Hell, then look at such Bible verses as John 3:16 or Romans 5:8 which say “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV translation) and “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (ESV translation)

To anyone who heard Brother Matt on campus or who has been hurt by a Christian, I’m sorry. A lot of people think of Christians as hypocrites and judgmental, which to be honest is perfectly fair.

But what people who actively preach judgment and hate represent is different from who Jesus is.

The message of the Gospel is that we are all broken and sinful people, but that God in grace and love sent his son Jesus to take our punishment for us so that we might be able to know God and experience his love and plan. This free gift is received through faith in Jesus Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith … not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

My biggest hope is that those in the LBGTQ community would understand that certain groups and people who garner media attention because of their hateful rhetoric don’t represent the majority of Christians well and they certainly don’t represent Christ well.

Evan Roberts can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Campus protester doesn’t speak for all Christians