Hiding behind religion

There are three things in this world that I won’t touch with a 10-foot pole: nuclear waste, Pamela Anderson and religion. All for obvious reasons, the latter being perhaps the most volatile and hazardous to your health. That being said, religion was the furthest thing from my mind a little more than a week ago as I made my way past the library to the Davis Center and couldn’t help but overhear a man call me a sinner as I walked by. “What the (insert expletive here) did you just call me?” I asked. He replied, “You’re a sinner; an evolutionist that does not believe in Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior!” While all three of those statements are true, this man had no right to call me a sinner just for the simple fact that my beliefs differ from his. The last I knew this was America and I could believe what I wanted to believe, so what if I’m an evolutionist? However, I’m not a religious man; if you want to preach out of a book, go ahead; if you want to worship a tree, do it; if you think your cat is the second coming, power to you, but try and back me in a corner and force your beliefs on me and things won’t be pretty. It’s one thing to preach, but it’s an alltogether different monster to call someone a sinner or Satan worshipper, or a plethora of other demeaning things I heard that day. I stood by, taken aback, as this preacher called an openly gay student a sinner and that they “would be damned to hell” if they didn’t change their ways. I am shocked that the University would let such audacious behavior take place on our campus while it tries to promote itself as an open, diverse and welcoming University. Where do we draw the line between preaching one’s belief and spewing hatred wrapped in religious undertones? Would the University let the KKK stand in front of the Davis Center and preach? The American Neo-Nazi movement? How about an anarchist group or some other radical religious group? I don’t think they would because their messages are so openly full of hatred. The only difference between them and Mr. Hate Preacher is that he candy-coated his hatred with a promise of redemption if you chose to conform to his beliefs of what is “right.” I walked away that day disgusted, not wanting to give him any more of my attention than he already had; disgusted with him and disgusted that the University would subjugate me and other students, to this kind of mockery of our freedom to choose our own beliefs. I may not be a “Believer,” but if there is a Holier-Than-Thou out there, I’m sure they love each one of us equally, even Mr. Hate Preacher who told me and everyone else we were going to hell because we didn’t believe in the same things.