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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Free speech gets tested on Western campus

Evangelical preacher Brother Mykell attracted nearly 100 students to Red Square with his preaching. From homosexuals being unnatural to women not needing the right to vote, Mykell views were nothing short of controversial.

For almost two hours on Tuesday, May 8, Mykell debated his beliefs. For many students it wasn’t the beliefs that he held but rather the way in which he tried to get his message across.

One of the many students confronting the preacher.// Photo by Tyler Morris

Freshman Lauren Tierney said communication is the best way to spread ideas rather than creating you’re-with-us-or-against-us mentality.

“He needs to be having a conversation with us,” Tierney said. “Saying, ‘This is where I’m coming from’ and listen to where we’re coming from, but he’s not, he’s just yelling and pointing fingers.”

Tierney, who was raised Christian, said Mykell used certain bible quotes to help back up his statements but wasn’t taking the entirety of the book into context. This in combination with the statements he was making, Tierney believed, wasn’t going to make any difference or change any minds.

Sophomore Emily Keene said she isn’t one for religion, but how Mykell was preaching his message got her into the debate.

“Don’t call people around me, ‘Whore,’” Keene said. “Standing and preaching in a way that targets groups of people, this is not the place to say those things.”

Photo by Tyler Morris

Freshman Victor Hurtado-Ruiz spoke with Mykell. Ruiz said he was trying to figure out what Mykell actually believes. Ruiz, a Catholic, believes people who preach sometimes don’t listen to what they are saying. Some people believe they are right because their belief says so rather than walking the line between their beliefs and everyday life.

“I’ve learned to evolve both sides into my one life,” Ruiz said. “There are some things I won’t agree with and that’s fine, that’s the way humans are.”

Ruiz also believes communication is the best way to get a message across. Insulting people is not something Ruiz said is as an effective means of communication as bringing in such comments only leads to retaliation from the other party.

“You are allowed to come out here and say whatever you want, it’s your First Amendment right,” Ruiz said. “The moment you insult somebody is when people will start insulting you.”

University Police watched over the controversial but peaceful event.//
Photo by Tyler Morris

Sophomore Charles Stewart had been in the crowd for about half an hour before leaving to go to class. After another hour he had come back to find Mykell still preaching. Stewart believes in order to get the message across better, one should lead by example.

“The whole point for Jesus was that he was leading by example, not saying, ‘You’re going to Hell and you’re damning everybody,’” Stewart said. “[Mykell] isn’t leading by example, he’s just preaching his hell fire without a confirmed grasp on what the bible actually says.”

Junior Zac Freeman had spent about 10 minutes in the crowd listening to what Mykell had to say. Freeman was interested in trying to find out the reason why Mykell was on campus, believing part of the reason was to instigate conflict with students.

“I don’t think he even knows what he stands for,” Freeman said. “The way he is behaving is extremely opposed to what Christianity stands for.”

Brother Mykell declined to comment.

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