Wednesday afternoon students gathered in front of the Lory Student Center to listen and debate with a religious speaker, and with each other.
Jed Smock, known to friends as “Brother Jed” has been preaching on campuses for 30 years, according to his friend Lori Halbach. Smock is the founder of Campus Ministry USA, an organization he started in 1983.
“I want to get you thinking, especially about spiritual matters,” Smock said. “What is the purpose of life? What are we doing here?”
Brandon Goodell, a junior math major, said he feels what Smock should be doing is opening people’s minds instead of preaching to them.
“I think he thinks his main point is to discuss religion and politics with hedonistic college students. Really he’s here to lecture us like an angry parent,” Goodell said.
Goodell’s response came after Smock’s assertion that college has robbed students of their dreams and the initiative to support themselves.
Among other things, Smock addressed issues of alcohol, sex, masturbation, economic stability, war and politics.
Smock’s speech prompted students to not only argue with him, but with one another. Students who felt strongly about issues voiced their agreement or disagreement with Smock’s comments.
Ian Overton, a sophomore political science major, found much of what Smock said regarding politics to be hypocritical. Overton also questioned what the motive of Smock’s speech was after he admitted being paid by his “rich republican friends” to tour college campuses.
“(Smock) is an extremist with no real foundation aside from a faith. He’s blinded by a system that has not worked,” Overton said.
Kara Larricq, a freshmen open-option major, supported Smock expressing his beliefs.
“He’s interesting. We may not agree, but it’s good for him to get his issues out in the open,” Larricq said. “He’s just expressing what he thinks in a public place.”