There is a man in the free speech area on campus preaching. He sounds like he belongs in a mega-church, under fluorescent lights, and with intermittent hearty applause from the already converted. He is young, and is wearing a button-up and tie. He is shouting (“Has God sanctioned Alcoholism? Fornication?”) and the sound is violent and desolate–like swearing loudly in an empty room. The free speech area is mostly empty though, and the few that pass by are indifferent. Except for me. I am acutely embarrassed. I want to turn on the mute button and send him back to the late-night TV satire he came from. I want to stamp him with a huge disclaimer: “This is not what I believe. I am not one of those Christians.” (Honestly, I am a terrible and ambivalent Christian, but that’s another post.)
He is a Christian of some sort. A few people near him are packing up signs plastered with the name of Jesus. I didn’t stop to investigate, but the truth of the matter is so probable that it hurts.
I am embarrassed because I abhor this rhetorical style. I don’t think it does much good. I think that it gives the worst possible impression of God. I know that it hurts, offends, and angers people.
As much as I dislike what he is saying and how he is saying it, I would never question his right to do so. He does not represent the best argument, but he still has the absolute right to speak. If he were some righteous Imam, crying for Jihad–I still would not question his right to speak.