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Credit: Eunice Lim

For the last 10 years, Hank Essex has protested against the “corruption and demoralization of America” at the corner of 36th and Walnut every week — right in front of the Penn Bookstore.

He stands with a giant sign on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with a new, controversial message about American politics and society, trying to convince passersby of the importance of Christianity in society.

The Daily Pennsylvanian interviewed him last Friday about his beliefs and why he protests on campus. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Daily Pennsylvanian: I see your sign says “Vote Godly men and women.” What exactly do you mean by that?

Hank Essex : Our constitution was put together to protect the treasure that’s in the declaration — the blessings of liberty and God-given rights based on the bible. We are going to lose this treasure if we keep putting wicked communists in the White House and atheists in the courts. We need to replace them with God-fearing American leaders.

DP: Do you think there are any good leaders right now in the two political parties?

HE: We don’t have good leaders in either party except Ted Cruz. I think he’s a hopeful.

DP: Why do you protest at Penn?

HE: Fifty years ago, when I was about your age, I had friends who went to college here so I am familiar with this place. Also, Ben Franklin was one of the founding fathers who gave our nation its Christian foundation. I’m trying to present the truth to us who have been deceived, including myself. I’ve been deceived all my life by the same communist professors you have been. They think they’re good, but they’re just obeying their own evil minds.

DP: I just want to clarify, are you calling Penn’s professors communists?

HE: Yes. Not only Penn. Harvard’s been corrupted. Yale’s been corrupted. All these schools that were started by Christians are now corrupted by atheists and communists. Atheist counselors. Atheist professors.

DP: You said you had friends who went to Penn. Did you go to school near Penn?

HE: No, I am a high school dropout.

DP: So you disagree with scholars who say Franklin was a deist?

HE: It’s nonsense. Universities keep this nonsense going. Franklin worked hard to maintain a Christian society based on the bible, otherwise we’d base our laws on man, and 6,000 years of man’s history demonstrates it is destructive when you get away from God.

DP: Why do you sometimes hold signs with derogatory messages about LGBT people when you protest in front of the Penn Bookstore? Don’t you know that Penn is an LGBT-friendly environment?

HE: Homosexuality wasn’t around when I was coming up. Matter of fact, the word gay meant something else. It meant being happy. Nobody used the word gay as something to do with sex. All this nonsense has been going on for the last 100 years and it has got to stop, because America is being destroyed by the atheists and communists.

DP: Do you know others who are doing similar protests?

HE: I don’t know any directly, but I know there are many others like me who are independently trying to save our nation.

DP: Do you think others share your beliefs? Does anyone come up to you to talk?

HE: Yes. Lots of college students, older people and strangers come up to talk to me. I’ve had people driving by see me and drive back and talk to me. There’s no one else that speaks for them because the media is on the other side, with the communists and the atheists. People don’t hear their own opinion in the media, so they’re afraid to speak. They’re afraid of being ostracized or being called names like racist or homophobe.

DP: What do you ultimately hope to achieve through your one-man campaign?

HE: My effort has been to bring as much truth amid the lies that have been perpetuated in my lifetime upon the American people, and help us restore our nation to the foundation that was given to us by Franklin, Washington and Jefferson, whom the university’s professors and politicians lie about. Many of them are atheists.

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