Salvation preached without tact

The University is a place to exchange ideas, not spread improper table manners.

Ian J Byrne

I was on my way to Coffman Union on Monday afternoon when I noticed a man standing on a stool yelling in front of Smith Hall.

“Do you masturbate with pornography at the kitchen table in front of your mother?” bellowed Shawn Holes, or Shawn the Baptist, as heâÄôs called on his Luke Ten Two MinistryâÄôs website. Perhaps I should forward him the 2010 Etiquette Dinnere-mail invitation.

Jumping up and down, waving his arms, at times yelling, “I love you!” all the while damning us sinners to hell, Holes went on to create one of the more bizarre Monday afternoons IâÄôve spent on campus.

An article from the UKâÄôs Daily Mail reveals Scottish authorities charged the traveling preacher with “uttering homophobic remarks” and breaching peace with “religious prejudice” after police took him off a busy Glasgow street.

“Homosexuals deserve the wrath of God âÄî and so do all other sinners âÄî and they are going to a place called hell,” he told a crowd, according to the Daily Mail, which reported he denied wrongdoing but pleaded guilty to the charges.

Brad Grant, 35, of Wisconsin, was handing out fliers for HolesâÄô ministry. He approached an older woman, offering her a flier, who in turn responded, “Do you really think this works?” Even eternal salvation is a tough sell in the Monday afternoon scuttle.

I asked Grant if he thought Holes was doing a good job of convincing those passing of his ministryâÄôs message.

“ItâÄôs a method thatâÄôs been done since the New Testament,” he said.

Grant said it was his first time at the University of Minnesota. But Holes had visited before, he added. I asked why they came here.

“We know college age is a pretty simple time,” was GrantâÄôs response.

While students may mature and grow at different speeds, rest assured, this period is not “simple.” The University offers an environment to learn, but we all deal with issues that will shape the person we become and are very, very capable of choosing whether to include God in our lives.

It is insulting that anyone would come to our campus and yell, judge and disparage us. These confrontational tactics also belittle the efforts faith-based student groups make to discuss their beliefs in a civil, constructive matter, like many people of faith do.

Katie Pearson, a senior, is such a person. “God is central to my life. Christ is my best friend and everything to me. God is love, peace and kindness. They werenâÄôt talking about that,” she said. She concluded they misrepresented GodâÄôs message and turned off the very people to whom they should be preaching.

Bethany Stein, a first-year student, said Holes was trying to spread his message in the worst possible way. “It pisses people off, itâÄôs distracting,” she said.

The University is a place for ideas: scientific, philosophical, material, or in the name of Jesus, Allah, Buddha and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Holes is certainly welcome to try to spread his message, but all that IâÄôll remember him for is the guy who managed to publicly string together “masturbation,” “pornography,” and “mother” in one unsettling sentence.

Matt Murphy studies biochemistry here. If Grant is correct, Murphy, as a first-year student, must be at a real simple time in his life. Nevertheless, he still grasps a basic concept of effective preaching: ItâÄôs all in the delivery.

“I appreciate the message, but donâÄôt enjoy the screaming,” Murphy said.

Ian J Byrne welcomes comments at [email protected].