Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Brother Jed draws crowd during on-campus religious protest

Saturday, October 12, 2019
Brother Jed holds a crucifix staff and points into the crowd in front of Kent Library on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Photo by Zach Tate

Southeast President Carlos Vargas sent a mass email to every Southeast student Wednesday, Oct. 9, acknowledging that the appearance of Brother Jed and Sister Cindy Smock to Southeast’s campus was not a University-sponsored event.

Jed and Cindy drew a crowd of some 200 people in front of Kent Library on Wednesday, Oct. 9, by chanting offensive speech to individuals passing by.

The space is a public forum area, and Vargas noted the two appeared on campus with little to no notice.

Jed and Cindy Smock are evangelistic preachers who travel the United States visiting college campuses and spreading their message. The two lived in Columbia, Missouri, from 2004 until 2013 before moving to Terre Haute, Indiana.

According to Bruce Skinner, associate vice president for student life, this was the couple’s first visit to Southeast’s campus in at least three to five years. He said the couple visited Southeast nearly every year throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Much of Jed and Cindy’s focus was toward homosexuals, members of Greek Life and the LGBTQ community.

Southeast student Noah Coates (left) attempts to reason with Brother Jed (right) while Jed points fingers into the crowd in front of Kent Library on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Photo by Jelani Days

Other derogatory comments were made about premarital sex and abortions.

Audience members’ tensions grew with each topic the demonstration brought up. Among the Smock’s comments were explicit statements such as Greek men and women are “rapists and whores,” and those who watch pornography are “slave masters” because, according to Cindy, the women displayed in pornography are “drugged and raped.”

Throughout the religious protest, audience members shouted retorts at the speakers, mostly in opposition to them.

Southeast senior Patrick O’Driscoll was among the crowd shouting back at Jed and Cindy, but decided to do more as he entered the center of the circle with Jed.

His approach was to heckle Jed, and used the reasoning “evil cannot stand being laughed at.”

“As an ordained minister of Rose ministries, I feel like it was my duty to provide a counterpoint to all of this hate [Jed] was spewing,” O’Driscoll said. “In between the jokes I crack at this dude, I tell the crowd about how much God loves them … God accepts everyone regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation.”

Two men from the crowd met each other in the center of the circle to kiss, directly in front of Jed, who was speaking against homosexuality at the time.

Chairman of the Department of Music Kevin Hampton interjected during the protest, stating he’s “an openly gay, born-again man,” and the crowd silenced.

“We cannot affect how other people are going to behave, we can only behave within ourselves,” Hampton said. “So love yourselves, love one another, and know there are many faculty and staff here that love you, who support you and who are here for your education.”

Hampton represents faculty and staff in the LGBTQ Employee Alliance, is a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Cape and is on the PFLAG board at Southeast. His viewpoint on the protest was a peaceful one, and advised students against fighting back with hate.

“No matter how much we may disagree with those who are speaking hate against us, to react hatefully is not the way to go about this,” Hampton said.

Jed and Cindy’s protest lasted more than four hours, from around 1:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.