Podium preachers prompt students to speak out
Don Harman of JeremiahCry Ministries speaks into a microphone surrounded by students on Monday Sept. 30.
By Lauren Mineau
A spiritual visit has become something of an annual fall tradition at the University at Albany. JeremiahCry Ministries, a religious group based in New Jersey visited UAlbany on Monday, Sept. 30 and remained on the podium outside the small fountain for at least three hours.
In years past, the groups visit stirred reactions from students, but this year attracted a larger crowd than the past two visits. Members from other ministries accompanied the group this year including Don Karns, a minister from Virginia.
The religious group tours college campuses throughout the country and preaches their word. The group believes all who commit sin await death and God’s judgement, and those who do not accept Jesus will go directly to hell.
Many students disagreed with the group’s message and made it known. One student, Sarah Shug stood on the small fountain holding a sign that read “My Vagina, My choice.”
“They’re trying to preach their religion but they’re doing it in a rude way. They’re saying that I deserve rape because of a sin I committed and that homosexuality is wrong according to the word of God, they avoid questions. I don’t think it’s right and I want to stand out against it,” said Shug, a UAlbany student.
“I believe everyone has the right to their own body but don’t hate on other people because of what you believe,”she said.
Mike Stockwell, from crosscountryevangelism.com, said the group travels to spread the word of the Lord and show there is hope that is only found in Jesus Christ.
“We want to come out here today to tell people the truth and the truth is what will set them free,” he said, adding that the precondition for truth is God.
The group believes evolution is a lie and God created all. Their website, youaresinners.com, states:
“Evolution is a lie. There is also a glimpse of truth here. And something within the nature of man opposes the use of this word incorrectly. The soul or conscience can’t be settled when this word is used with deceitful intent. ie. the sky is green,
2 = 2 is 5, a man is immortal or is capable of knowing everything, a man is able to exist and not exist simultaneously, slavery, murder, rape is not always wrong if the strong, rich, powerful, or wealthy believe the good and pleasure of the strong justify the abuse of the weak. Because darkness is not light, and evil is not good, and man is not God
and God IS the creator of all things and therefore there is a good and a evil and a light and a dark.”
Stockwell said his beliefs on homosexuality stem from God’s word, saying that if God’s word says it is wrong, then what homosexuals do is worthy of death. He also added that heterosexual sex of any kind outside of marriage is sin by God’s standard.
“We come here to show them that without God, they can’t know anything, you have to start with God,” Stockwell said.
The group had a podium and microphone where one member was answering questions and preaching and various other members were around the fountain as well.
Many of the students who gathered were against the groups preaching, especially their thoughts about homosexuality.
“The homosexuals on this campus starting pointing at us, we didn’t come here with that intent,” Stockwell said.
“I’m not religious but I don’t like anyone telling me what I have to believe,” said one shirtless student who had “I’m not gay but that guy’s a dick,” painted on his chest.
“Just because he has a microphone, he thinks he has more power than everyone else. You can’t tell one person what they believe is wrong you have to consider everyone, we are all human,” said another student who added that the group was being subjective.
“I’m really disappointed that the UAlbany campus would allow this group to come in and spread their hate like this,” another student said.
However not all the students felt angry about the group’s presence.
“It’s not hard to have an intellectual discussion, it’s interesting to see another point of view. It’s perfectly fine to have a discussion and a debate, you can debate a topic without attacking a person,” said Ben Ousselo, a religious studies major.
At one point, Karina Anderson who is interning at UAlbany’s Gender Sexuality Resource Center began handing out condoms to the crowd.
“It’s fine that they are here spreading their beliefs but I think the best way to prevent more abortions is to give out contraception,” she said.
Members of the university administration and university police were present to keep things under control, but were unable to comment on the situation. The group did fill out the necessary permits to be on campus despite the outcome and have done the same in years past. Last year the group visited on Sept. 11, 2012 and created a similar stir and they visited in 2011 also.
(Students and members of a visiting ministry on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013)
“They should be allowed to be here and we should be allowed to be here, another loudspeaker would not be necessary we can be loud enough on our own,” said one student who identifies as Phoenix.
“I wish that one time when these guys came here that everyone would just ignore them so they wouldn’t have an audience,” one student said.
“The demonstrators have the right to say what they want to be. College students will generally blow something like this out of proportion and the demonstrators are being a bit extreme. It doesn’t really help anyone to come out on one side or the other. It’s a beautiful expression of the first amendment either way,” said Skylar D’Angelo, president of the University at Albany Young Americans for Liberty.
“I think it’s important to have public debate. People are free to come and go as they please and that’s how the marketplace works,” said professor Tim Taylor who brought his Current Constitutional Issues course to the podium to explore.
For more information about Jeremiah Ministries visit youaresinners.com.
Student from UAlbany’s broadcast journalism course contributed to this report.