I stepped out of class last Thursday and noticed that the circus saw fit to bless us with their presence. There were hundreds of spectators glued to the show, quite a few monkeys yelling at one another, and I swear I even saw a few incarnations of Dumbo. Inevitably at the center of all the asphyxiating madness was the ringleader.
For those of you who missed out on this circus last Thursday and Friday, there was a street preacher here on the Plaza by the name of Matt Bourgault. Using his best shouting skills, some inflammatory banners, and even his little kids at one point, he feverishly told people about how they were going to hell if they didn't repent. He not-so-tactfully told crowds that God was angry, they would be judged for what they were doing and then would promptly be sent to hell.
One man stepped up on the rock Mr. Bourgault was standing on and asked the crowd who felt the love of Jesus shining down on them. Needless to say, not a soul raised their hand. It was at that point Mr. Bourgault, the ringleader, told the crowds he wasn't there to spread the love of Jesus. Really? He went on to say he was trying to scare people into converting; he wanted them to fear God. It was classic, ill-advised "Hellfire and Damnation" preaching.
First of all as a Christian, I was upset with and embarrassed by the ringleader. Every religion, faith, or belief, has their nutcases and fundamentalists. We can look to Osama Bin Laden, David Koresh, Richard Dawkins, and Lamb Chop as prime examples. We can also look to Matt Bourgault, who did everything in his power last week to turn people away from the message of Christ. To set the record straight, Christ did preach about repentance from sin and how the wages of sin is death and eternal separation from him in hell. That's putting it quite bluntly. However, he didn't go about all of this by trying to scare people and make them angry. He did so with love, compassion, and wisdom. The goal for Christians should be to tell Christ's message the way he did, with love, not hate.
Secondly, as a spectator and student I was deeply embarrassed by the monkeys, clowns, and the like that surrounded the ringleader. One such monkey, who described himself as a bisexual, felt that grabbing the ringleader's posterior would add weight to his arguments. I'm not sure if it worked but it was terribly revealing of that particular monkey's ethos. Another participant, who eerily resembled Dumbo, obviously felt inspired to contribute to the discussion by calling the ringleader names that are not fit to print. There were also a variety of clowns who felt, in the spirit of debate, that it would be best to shout at the man and threaten him with physical violence. I must say I was very impressed by the skills my future alumni have developed for intelligent discussion. These people couldn't match the wits of a potato.
It never occurred to these people to just smile and walk on by, or perhaps politely engage in a discussion with the man on why you disagree with his ideas and/or methods of conveying said ideas. There are others who are like Mr. Bourgault though. Perhaps you've seen them with their banners in our plazas before walking back and forth. Perhaps you've seen others camped outside our football games with signs saying, "God hates fags."
Wherever you've seen them, you have not seen the spirit of Christ. These misguided and confused souls seek to pass judgment on those around them and for some reason have the bright idea that people need to be scared into repentance.
The likes of Mr. Bourgault, regardless of their message, are not welcome on this campus yet they do have the right to speak freely. That said, if their message is inflammatory or hateful, do not lower yourselves to their level, CSU. All the monkeys, clowns, and even Dumbo himself should be ashamed by the way they were participating in the ringleader's circus. The more I think about these events, the less they resemble a circus and the more they come to embody a sideshow. Shame on you Mr. Bourgault, and shame on all the mindless participants who took place in your sideshow.
Tyler Wittman is a senior speech communications major. Information for this column was found at www.officialstreetpreachers.com.