Mixed messages: clown, preachers meet on mall

by Douglas Rojas

God created french fries on the third day to be dipped in ketchup. Or so Ronald McDonald said on Tuesday on the Mall in front of Northrop Memorial Auditorium.
Three students placed a plastic statue of the McDonald’s character dressed in a suit and tie as a way to disrupt the preachers that meet on the mall. The event brought about 100 people to hear what both preachers and the statue had to say.
The statue had a portable radio under its arm that played a recording that jokingly explained how Chicken McNuggets are natural aphrodisiacs and apple pies were created to make people happy.
The recording was amplified by the shouts of one student while three preachers from the Maranatha Christian Fellowship were preaching the gospel and quoting the Bible. The students responsible for the statue refused to reveal their reasons for bringing it to campus.
“It’s a very theatrical thing,” said Guy Wegener, a senior in theater, regarding the idea of having a statue of Ronald McDonald near the Maranatha preachers.
The event, Wegener said, was a subtle way to protest religious ideas that spread conflict in communities.
“They don’t preach the word of God; they preach of word of hate and intolerance,” Wegener said.
The preachers on Tuesday said people, particularly students, ignore what the Bible teaches about various social issues, especially drugs and alcohol.
Psychology sophomore James Zak said these protests can stir debate among students about issues of religion, but still students have to choose.
“I think it is good — a clown versus a clown. Which clown would you rather listen to?” he said.
On the mall, members of the Christian group often debate students who challenge the group’s beliefs and even make fun of the preachers. Still, the statue evoked discussion in the student community, and that’s what the group wants to achieve.
“Obviously they are trying to say that preaching is like a circus,” said Johnathan Bislew, a pastor with Maranatha Christian Fellowship.
However, “bringing the clown brings more people. I believe it makes it a greater opportunity for young people to hear the word of God,” Bislew said.
Preachers often address issues of homosexuality and gender, and yesterday was no exception. Some students said the preachers address the topics unfairly.
For Melissa Vette, a sophomore in environmental sciences, preaching about traditional roles that women have had in the past and criticizing the way women dress today are not positive ways to spread Christianity.
“Being a woman, I found that disrespectful,” she said.
Still, Bislew said women play active and equal roles in society. The issue is not about what women should wear, he said, but what message they send with their clothes.
“I believe people can dress modestly. They should not be dressing seductively,” he said.