By Katie Ellington, News Editor
A small crowd of students stood behind the cafeteria Wednesday afternoon as members of The Campus Ministry USA, a group of Christian protesters, shouted their message.
The group arrived early Wednesday morning and began to preach on the sidewalk running parallel West College Street. One at a time, they urged students to preach the Gospel, to abstain from sexual sin and to repent and be perfect through the grace of God.
“If you’re not perfect, it’s because you don’t have faith,” Sister Cindy Smock told bystanders. In a interview, she later defined “perfect” as turning from all known sin and loving and obeying Jesus with a pure heart. Smock believes that every sin is a choice and therefore it is possible for those who love God to stop sinning at any moment. She admitted that she had sinned in the past, though not every day, and plans to never sin for the rest of her life.
“You’ll be in hell before the whores over at the University of Kentucky,” she yelled.
Another member, Sister Kirsten Borchert, grew red in the face as she preached. Multiple times, she called students “hypocrites,” “disgusting” and “lukewarm filth” and told them, “God is grieved by you!”
Members of The Campus Ministry defended their harsh words by saying that they had lead many students at secular universities to Christ and that only the guilty can be hurt by their accusations.
Other students were directly targeted and insulted by the preachers.
“The use of these words is very important because they have sting, they bring conviction,”
Students’ reactions varied. Some challenged the speakers through discussion. Others talked privately with individual members of the group. Many watched with concealed anger or evident amusement. A few screamed back at them, telling the confrontational evangelists that they are the ones who will go to hell.
“Jesus told the Pharisees they were children of Satan,” commented junior Elijah Luikham, who told the evangelists were blaspheming the Holy Spirit. While he later reconsidered if his response had been “helpful,” he did not retract it.
“The scriptures are very clear that it is those who show mercy who will receive mercy, and it was fairly clear that these people were not showing mercy,” he stated via Facebook Messager.
While he doesn’t agree with their message of preaching, senior Wes Curtis says that he had a civil conversation with Smock and believes they are good, yet misguided, people.
“There was no yelling, no arguing. It was a good experience,” he said. “We talked about our disagreements.
Other students were directly targeted and insulted by the preachers. Freshman Elyse Mosier was called a whore based on her outfit, which included a skirt hemmed just an inch or two above the knee.
“I just had to keep walking and realize that their words don’t accurately reflect who I am,” she said. “I think they’re trying to do the right thing.
(Updated to correct that Elijah Luikham is a junior instead of a sophomore as reported.)