“Repent or pay the price in Hell!”
Sound familiar? If you have walked along Ring Mall around the Administration Building this past week, it should.
They have offended every gender, race and religion that crossed their paths. They have displayed posters condemning all categories of humans on the face of this planet, even videogamers. And they have evoked a range of emotions that run the gamut from anger and frustration to denial and amusement from their spectators. Yes, they are our resident “Crazy Christians,” as they are so often called, and they are here to stay.
These extremists spew hatred for every person who does not follow their faction (more specifically, anyone who does not agree with their way of preaching and “converting” mankind) at campuses across America, but they have been particularly prominent at UC Irvine this year. In fact, during seventh week this quarter, the campus played host to these fanatics every single day. Students could not stroll to the Student Center without being subjected to condemnations to Hell, sometimes based on the clothes they were wearing or the people with whom they were walking.
One girl was called a “slut” because of her low-cut shirt, and another was called “oppressed” because she wore a headscarf. And almost no one could escape being called a homosexual, something the campus’s gay and lesbian students took issue with. At the end of the day, everyone was going to Hell, and no one could argue with that.
What should we do about these hatemongers when they come to our campus? Though they sometimes bring their entire families, from young children to on-the-brink-of-death grandmothers who usually practice their own forms of Hell-banishing preaching, their actions cannot exactly be deemed “family-friendly.”
Some have argued that the administration should kick them off the campus, especially considering the bad reputation they give the university. After all, only a few weeks ago, one fanatical woman yelled at a passing tour group of high-school students and their parents, “Don’t bring your children to this school! The kids here are a bunch of sperm-eaters!” Not exactly the kind of recruitment we’re looking for.
However, due to free speech, the religious zealots have the right to come on campus, so these fanatics are here to stay. The best we can do is see the bright side of their existence, right? For one, many people are not offended by these extremists’ statements. Instead, they feed off of their incessant yelling as a form of morbid amusement. Come on, admit it, you are one of them.
While you may not count the days until their arrival, the first sight of their overarching “Hell victims” poster sends a shiver of excitement down your spine. Your masochistic tendencies call you to approach the zealots and be subject to their scrutiny of your sinful being and subsequent undoubted residence in the fires below, all so you can have a good laugh.
You may also use their presence to take a break from the stress of school because you believe they are just pure comedy. You may flock to them with a group of friends who share your amusement and rejoice that your faith, or lack thereof, is not being represented by these characters. However you approach them, you do it in a manner that is undisturbed by their accusations, and in that you are not alone.
The truth of the matter is that just as the acts of terrorists are not representative of Islam and the views of Orthodox rabbis do not reflect those of all Jews, these zealous sign-wielders do not represent all Christians. This was evident when a student said, “But I’m a Christian!” and the man responded, “You’re still going to Hell!”
Some people, however, do not take the positive approach and begin to argue with them. Though usually ineffective, arguing fosters intellectual thought and can be a means to analyze one’s faith more deeply. It also provokes discussion and usually promotes open-mindedness toward the people the fanatics accuse, since it is usually assumed that the fanatics are wrong in anything they say.
The most surprising outcome of these extremist’s appearances is their ability to unite the students. On a campus that is infamously known for its apathy, they wield some strange ability to bring people from all different walks of life together against a common enemy—these “crazy Christians.” Ironically, the people who get together to laugh, joke and mock these fanatics sometimes belong to groups that would never be seen exchanging a good word in public. This is a testament to the good the zealots actually do.
So the next time you see them approaching you, foaming at the mouth with contempt and what they believe is the knowledge of the numerous evil deeds you undoubtedly committed, give them a big bear hug because they are, in their own morbid way, making UCI a better place to be.
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