Our View: Respect Yields Understanding


Last Wednesday, between Bracken Library and Pruis Hall, a lone preacher stood, touting the word of God and the merits of faith while students passed through.

Several students stopped to listen. A few others spouted disparaging remarks in the preacher's direction. Some even felt insulted by the preaching. Many just ignored him and walked by.

Still, he preached on.

He discussed ancient history. He discussed Scripture. He pointed out examples of sin in the lives of students. He pointed out how students can find salvation in God. He preached for a good portion of the day, fluctuating between adamant proselytizing and reflective sermonizing.

On a page where individual expression is paramount, we would be remiss to say there's anything wrong with that.

Sure, many passers-by didn't agree with his preachings. He probably offended a good lot of people who just weren't in the mood for a good witnessing. But that doesn't mean he should stop.

More importantly, that doesn't mean students should walk by and tell him to shut up. There are simply better ways of disagreeing.

When anyone (be it a preacher, convert or raving lunatic) steps onto a campus and preaches religion to passers-by, that person is using his First Amendment right of free expression. To disagree is fine. To disrespect or discount is to no one's benefit.

As passing students have the freedom to choose a religion under the same amendment, they also should be mindful of the free expression of others.

Whether we support the preachings of another or not, we are not obligated to listen, but a certain level of respect may yield a certain level of understanding. Every person's message has value in society in some way.


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