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The Unpreachables

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Evangelists John McGlone and Kerrigan Skelly find a less-than receptive audience at Virginia Commonwealth University April 7, their message of salvation seemingly falling on deaf ears.

"We have all perverted creation with our own sinfulness," McGlone shouts in front of the Shafer Court dining hall. "The wicked today are like the wicked of yesterday, and there will be the wicked of tomorrow. But you will repent!"

Angry students responded by cursing at McGlone, holding up signs, even a giant golden penis. Never mind the apparent disdain, says Skelly, who insists that street preaching is still effective.

"If I tell people the truth, this is how they react," Skelly says. "If I didn't love you, I wouldn't be here preaching the truth. There are false prophets who cry 'peace, peace,' and there are true prophets who cry out against sin and its evil practices."

Queer Action, a campus gay and lesbian advocacy group, voice their objections by singing protest songs and lying on the ground. To take it up a notch, two guys kiss each other to the applause of the group.

"They should at least have some better tactics to get their point across instead of shouting down and condemning people," says a member of Queer Action. "They could have passed out fliers or hand out pamphlets. But don't come into our dining area and run your mouth all day."

One student holding up a pro-abortion sign says that this kind of speech should not be allowed on campus.

"His preaching is a violation of human rights," the student says. "There is a difference between free speech and hate speech."

VCU student Scott Horner also objects.

"I'm just a student who is not happy with what is going on here," Horner says. We came to college to learn and gather ideas we can use to improve our lives. We shouldn't have to have those ideas forced down our throats. I'm educating myself to be a better person, not a bitter person."

The United Secular Alliance, a group of agnostic and fundamental thinkers, sent out a response group to challenge the evangelists. "These guys don't talk with you about their faith and their beliefs. They basically shout down those who do not agree with them," says Roy Roberts, president of the alliance.

Leigh Conley worries the evangelists are giving Christianity a bad name.

"If they want to save people, they should be more accepting instead of condemning them," she says.

One student says both groups are wrong. "I don't know what's more inflammatory -- the religious group or the group with the giant penis," the student says.



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