What started as a quiet, windy Monday on Southern Utah University campus quickly turned into a contentious one, as a man with a large sign that read “Jesus Saves From Hell” planted himself in front of the Gerald R. Sherratt Library.
With one hand holding the sign in the air and the other holding a book that read “Holy Bible” in holographic letters, this unidentified man preached for SUU students to repent.
The backside of his sign included the types of people who will, presumably, be damned to Hell without repentance. “LGBTQ,” “Weed smokers,” “Sports nut,” “Immodesty,” “Lukewarm Christian,” and “Haters” to name a few.
After mounting his position on campus, students quickly began to retaliate with arguments. Some attempted to reason with the man. Others made signs of their own.
“I was the first person to stand up with a sign. I was walking to go home to study, but this was worth not studying for,” freshman Catianna Kirby said while holding the corner of a rainbow flag.
SUU Campus Police set up metal barriers around both the man and group of students protesting. Students cheered “Love is love” and “God is love,” which was met with applause from those watching.
Although the encounter never turned violent, the man was heard chanting remarks at students.
Freshman Savannah Haidinger claimed the man shouted “Young lady, close your legs” and “If God wills you to be raped, you will be raped.”
According to a statement made by President Scott L. Wyatt in June, SUU has a history of supporting First Amendment rights. Thus, administrators on sight did not stop the man or any students from using their voice.
“All of the administrators that have shown up, they’ve been really supportive because our campus is very inclusive towards people… I’m just here because I feel like this should be a safe space for anyone to be anything they want to be. And we all pay to be here, so I’m just trying to get him off of my campus.”
Eventually, the man left campus and crowds dispersed, leaving the library plaza as it was before.
“I mean, my Bible is like, pretty thick and his is about a third of that. So I don’t know if he’s only highlighting certain points but the whole ‘Love One Another’ is definitely not in his Bible,” Haidinger concluded.
Story by: Amanda Walton
Photos Courtesy of Christopher Dimond