Brother Jed returns to UK bringing controversy

By Judah Taylor

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Since 1975 the controversial campus preacher known as “Brother Jed” Smock has been to UK’s campus too many times to remember.

Smock has been featured in Rolling Stone, ABC News, NPR and other nationally acclaimed news organizations.On Wednesday, students anticipated his visit and many prepared for the event.

Some students, like political science sophomore Sara Wood and art studio freshman Emily Danielscame to the free speech area in-front of the Student Center between classes looking for entertainment. Wood said Smock was making a joke of his religion by the way he was presenting it, and Daniels said it was “very funny,” and “good fun.”

Not everyone was there for entertainment.

Knowing there would be a crowd, the UK Secular Student Alliance took the opportunity of Smock’s second visit of the week to hold a tabling and spread their own message. They passed out condoms and flyers, and what members said were “good vibes.”

“We’re here to let people know that not everyone believes in hell, and thinks the way these people do,” said Alex Wright, secondary history education senior and member of the UK SSA.

“These are no mainstream Christians,” Wright said. SSA does not actively hold tabling or other events near other Christian events such as those put on CSF, but made an exception for Smock as they thought he was “very offensive” he said.

The SSA held a sign mocking Smock’s sign “You Deserve Hell” with one of their own that read “You Deserve Condoms and Flyers.” Greg Botzet a student and employee of UK held a sign reading “I’m a virgin, I’m a Christian, I deserve Hell and so do you.”

Botzet described his message as the same as Smock’s, even saying that he was joining them in preaching, but said that he as presenting the message in a friendlier way. Comparing hell to being hit by a semi-tractor-trailer, Botzet said

“If I see someone in the middle of the road and I knew a semi-truck was about to hit them, I would do what I can to get the out of the way of the semi-truck.”

“I’m here, because how could a loving God let you destroy yourself without warning you first?” Botzet said.

Smock was not surprised that students crowded around him, held-up signs of their own and protested. Admitting that his campus visits are “virtually always heated,” Smock said.

Some students broke off into splinter groups during Smock’s preaching. Some debated the morality of belief systems and others shared their beliefs with others in a more intimate setting.

“Brother Jed” is widely known for his controversial preaching style known as “confrontational evangelism” in which he condemns students and audiences. He is known to condemn homosexuals, feminists, fornicators, masturbators, liberals, “EVILutionists ” and Rock ‘n Roll listeners.

“I don’t doubt that I turn most people off,” Smock said. “But when it comes down to it, Jesus turns most people off.”