OPINION: Adding fuel to the fire: Students versus preachers


Amarah Din

It’s early afternoon, and you’re walking to your next class when you notice a crowd ahead of you. You get closer and realize it’s the infamous campus preachers drawing the attention. They come to App State’s Sanford Mall almost every week. They picket with signs listing groups of people who are “sinners” that will be condemned to hell if they don’t repent. These groups of people include “drunkards,” “pot smokers,” “homosexuals” and more. 

The preachers’ claims are blatantly bigoted and discriminatory, and students have shared their frustrations with the people holding the signs. Students gather in large crowds around the preachers, asking them questions or pointing out flaws in their logic and playing music at full volume. Some students will even kiss each other to spite the preachers.

While all of the chaos is entertaining, none of it deters the preachers from continuing on with their preaching. The preachers have been coming to our campus for over a decade. We can’t kick them off our public university’s campus since they’re protected under the First Amendment. If we want them to leave, we have to take a different approach: ignore them.

We’re giving them exactly what they want by protesting. They crave the attention of students. They love a large audience because it means more people are listening to their message they try so hard to spread. But if students on Sanford ignore them, we eliminate any significant reason for the preachers to come back. 

App State should feel like a safe, loving and accepting environment. As someone who was told that being Muslim meant I believed in a “false god,” I want them gone as much as the next guy. However, as much as I’d like to think I can be the one person to change the preachers’ perspective, it’s not that simple. These are not people who are willing to compromise on their beliefs they’ve held onto for decades.

The next time you see a preacher on your way to class and are tempted to confront them, ask yourself: why give them what they want?