The group of Christian preachers who riled campus on Sept. 15 returned again for another hours-long demonstration Monday afternoon on College Green.
Chanting barbs against the “homos” as well as Catholics and Jews, four preachers assembled next to the Benjamin Franklin Statue in front of College Hall around noon. Within an hour, they met a fierce, organized resistance from a group of LGBTQ-identifying students, who displayed signs and played songs from Kanye West’s album, “The Life of Pablo.”
One preacher, Pastor Aden, had previously spoken on College Green on Sept. 15. He was joined by “JK” and his wife, “Evangelista,” who were new to campus.
“We use the shocking parts of the Bible to draw them in. And it works every time,” said JK, who wore a green shirt emblazoned with “Hell is horrible. No warning is too strong.”
“I don’t understand why this is allowed on campus. It’s hate speech,” said Thalia Parr, a graduate student in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World program, who assisted other students in holding up pride flags and drowning out the preachers by yelling, “Love wins, no hate!”
She added, “Just seeing this on this campus makes me feel like it’s not a safe space for me.”
Three open expression monitors attended the event as part of an initiative run by the Division of the Vice Provost for University Life.
“Our role is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to have their voices heard,” said Jenna Tesauro, one of the open expression monitors at the event, who is also a staff member in the Wharton Undergraduate Division.
College senior Titus Adkins, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian opinion columnist, engaged in a heated argument with Evangelista while she preached.
“I don’t know why these people keep showing up and spreading hate speech,” he said. “I can’t tell what they want.”
One target of Aden’s vitriol was College sophomore Zahraa Mohammed, a Muslim who was singled out because of the scarf around her neck.
Shortly before yelling at Mohammed, Aden chastised another student for dressing like she came from a “prostitution house.”
Mohammed said Aden told her that “Your prophet is a pedophile for having married a young woman.” Mohammed didn’t take personal offense to it, though, because “he’s spewing hate on every religion, so it doesn’t really matter.”
“He isn’t really looking to have a conversation, an educated conversation,” she said. “He’s just looking to scream and shout.”
As for any advice Mohammed wanted to give Aden, she said, “Honestly, the next time you come here, give out pamphlets, give out something, but don’t just sit here and scream ‘You’re going to hell!’ because that doesn’t attract an audience, that attracts hate.”
Reverend Fritz Fowler, the pastor at University Lutheran Church near 39th and Locust Walk, also attended the protest and said he was “sorry” to see hate spewed in the name of religion.
“God is a diverse God and welcomes all people regardless of sexual orientation [or] gender identity,” he said. “I’m sorry to see that there are people proclaiming anything less than [a] God who is loving.”
The preachers left just before 4 p.m. As they collected their signs and walked away, Aden said, “We’ll be back!”
Staff Reporter Jacob Winick and Sports Editor Will Snow contributed reporting.
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