Yesterday at Purdue University there was a counter-demonstration to traveling preacher Brother Jed Smock. If you are not familiar with Brother Jed, he is a "fire and brimstone preacher" who has many views that are somewhat hateful. He tends to be very homophobic, and sexist. For example, Jed believes that gays are going to hell and women should be baby machines (in his own words). Why don't we view a quick sample of Jed from today:
I'll be the first to admit Brother Jed is a bit tough to hear. So here's another video you can watch if you need a second opinion. So, any video I have seen of him online seems to fall into a similar trap. They all take the bait and engage him directly. He's only been doing this for 20-30 years, and probably has heard every logical argument inside or out of Christianity. There was a Christian student who tried to argue verse-for-verse with Jed, but he wouldn't give up. So what do you do? He almost seems bulletproof.
Well here's why Purdue grads make the big bucks. Our goal was not to engage him directly. We knew that engaging him indirectly would be something he has rarely seen and would be embraced by other groups (religious or not). So what we did was dress up like Pirates and preach the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster By letting Jed speak, we would draw attention away from him. As he preached his beliefs, we just kept holding our signs, and our ground. In fact he tried to bait us a number of times, we didn't quite fall for it. So over time, we got creative, and here's what we did:
It only gets better. We ended up getting on the Boilermaker Special and drove right by him. He only looked back with a very confused and slightly disgusted look. We were given a standing ovation by the crowd surrounding Jed. On a conservative campus like Purdue has, there was still a lot of animosity for Brother Jed, and it wasn't coming just from the Non-Theist students.
Overall I think this was an extremely successful demonstration. I think we have done something that other demonstrators have been unable to do and that is protest religions and get a positive response. As silly as we may have looked, I think we did this tactfully, but most importantly tastefully. The Non-Theists Society at Purdue may have set a precedent for other Non-theist groups. The one person we really need to tip our hat to for this is Jennifer McCreight. She is the President of this club and was a leader in our demonstration. She brilliantly got this to work. Most importantly I want to also thank fellow demonstrators. We did this together, and hopefully this leads to bigger and better things when it comes to religious equality. I am proud to have been a part of this!
UPDATE! Jen's a blogger too, and she wrote her take on this demonstration. You can read it here.
ANOTHER UPDATE! Mark "Gato" posted a blog about the event here.
11:52 PM Mike Brownstein