To the Editor:
Welcome week can bring about a slew of emotions. New students feel the excitement of college, while returning students settle in for another year of academic pursuits. However, regardless of academic standing, many students share a near-universal disdain for the “preaching” of Brother Jed.
The “sermons”, if they really deserve that title, often begin with an open opposition to LGBTQ+ rights, an open opposition to science, and just for kicks, call those who stick around whores and sinners.
It is the responsibility of a university who claims to care about the safety and mental health of its students to openly and vehemently stand against Brother Jed, and to take actions which reflect these feelings. The weight of this inaction is particularly showing in this pandemic, where rather than removing an individual whose goal was to create a crowd, University Security simply instructed students to stand further apart. This response from the University is not only pathetic but showing of their desire to simply run away from conflict, even at the cost of the mental health of students.
Time after time, year after year, Minnesota State University, Mankato continues to stand by and allow these religious extremists to visit campus. Let each occurrence of this be seen through the eyes of the student body as a spineless failure of the university to create the environment of inclusion that they so desperately are trying to display.
My hope throughout this writing is to encourage an open letter from the student body president condemning the practices of Brother Jed as well as a promise from the incoming University president to commit to the refusal of granting permits for Brother Jed in upcoming years.
By no means is this letter meant to strike down any religious activity on campus, as organizations like the Campus Kitchen, Encounter, and Young Life bring wonderful opportunities for religious students to be with like-minded peers. However, it is evident that the messages of Brother Jed’s “Confrontational Evangelism” stand antithetical to the values of our University, and it is long overdue for them to be removed from campus.
By Nolan Bessler
Header photo: Evangelist Brother Jed Smock poses for a portrait in front of the Armstrong Hall on campus Sept. 2, 2020 in Mankato, Minn. Smock has been visiting the MNSU campus since the 1980s to preach his beliefs to the students. (Mansoor Ahmad/MSU Reporter)