Mon. May 16th, 2022

Throughout the semester, we have played host to a small group of religious speakers. Routinely setting themselves up in the academic quad, the group has attempted to “enlighten” students and faculty about the sins members of our community have committed.

In their opinion, the only way to save ourselves from eternal damnation is to beg the Lord for forgiveness. According to the First Amendment, this falls under the category of free speech. The basis of that amendment was to provide an avenue for all ideas and opinions to be heard.

That’s all well and good, but the avenue these speakers have chosen to present their viewpoint is considered by some to be controversial. Surrounded by a crowd of amused yet disgruntled students, the members of this group take their time to belittle the audience they’re trying to “save.”

From bashing gay people to damning promiscuity, the words that are spoken can easily be taken as insulting. One of the older boys that was with them held a tall sign, which had a list of various sinners who would be going to hell. Among the comprehensive list was non-Catholics, homosexuals and gamers, just to name a few. The list may seem comical, but those that comprise it are likely to take offense.

On the day I observed them, I noticed three small children sitting within the center of their enclosed space. Nowhere near the age to have a stance on the issues presented, they sat silently drawing and reading. Clothed in shirts that had strong political and religious messages on them, they were subjugated to spreading a message for which they (likely) have no opinion. The adults had similar designs on their shirts as well, all aimed at addressing issues which to them are plaguing humanity.

At first glance, the reaction I had when observing these insensitive individuals was anger. To knowingly hurt and disregard people who are different than you isn’t acceptable on any level. Even under the guise of religious faith, it’s unethical to spread an agenda through the use of slut-shaming and condemning opposing opinions.

Many of the students present during the religious tirade shared the same sentiment, retaliating with a chorus of slurs and derogatory comments. Others chose to take humor in what was being said, with one student in particular shouting “Don’t look into her devil eyes” at one of the speakers. Personally, my favorite was an individual who dressed up as the Easter Bunny and paraded around the area with two signs which displayed humorous (yet inappropriate) jokes.

What is the lesson that can be learned by this experience? At the end of the day, we all channel the same blood through our veins. Regardless of race, creed or gender, all of us are equal to one another. Every person that steps onto this campus, whether it be students, faculty or even local residents, makes our community unique.

While many are up in arms about what this religious group is saying, we should instead take their message and learn something from it. Instead of living in a world where division is widely accepted, people should choose to encourage unity and togetherness. The world we live in has its fair share of good and bad, but ultimately, it’s up to us which side will prevail.

Grant Mannis is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in journalism and creative writing. He can be reached at GM832239@wcupa.edu.

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