On my first week of college in the Fall Semester of 2018, I sat outside my biology class waiting for the previous class to exit the room before my class began. A person then walked down the hall handing out papers folded in half. Since this was our first day of class, I thought that maybe they were the TA, and were handing out a syllabus or other document important for the class. I took a paper from them, said “thank you,” and then unfolded it as they continued to pass them out to the rest of my classmates. Much to my surprise, this had nothing to do with my class, but was instead a hateful document handed to me by a member of a discriminatory church in our college town.
Less than a week later I would be aggressively handed another one of these papers when I didn’t take it right away. The cynic in me finds it humorous. People like this have no power over my feelings, and are incapable of invalidating my identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. However, the Christian in me is saddened by their complete lack of understanding of the way Jesus lived and loved. The aggression and clear bigotry shown in this document does not correspond to the message of love Jesus preached. I also find it a bit paradoxical that one of the “deadly sins” they list is anger. They seem pretty angry to me.
I do not think it is right to push your religion on anyone else. Faith is an incredibly personal thing, and should not be forced on another person. The last thing anyone is going to do when reading this paper is want to join their church. As a queer Christian, and progressive person, I find it incredibly hard to identify with other Christians. So many of their actions are the exact opposite of what I believe in and feel is right. The anti-catholic rhetoric is also incredibly unhelpful, and leads to even more divisiveness within the church.
My college is very progressive for being located in Texas. If you are a hard-core conservative, you are in the minority at my school. This has lead to street preachers targeting our campus two years in a row with a similar (yet much more vulgar and aggressive) message. While many members of the student body have loudly protested these hateful messages, it still leads to students feeling unsafe on campus. Many students came to my college to flee their conservative and unwelcoming Texas hometown. It deeply saddens me to think that they would feel unsafe here because of people like the street preachers, and the group who handed me that paper on my first day of class.
These hateful actions need to be called out, but disruption and arguments are often the goal of these groups. It can be difficult to find ways to rebuke the ideologies of these people, without giving them the emotional response they are seeking. As a Christian, it is my job to speak up when groups discriminate against others in the name of Christianity. While I am proud of the student bodies response to messages like these, I hope we can progress to a time where these messages are not sent in the first place.