Students Pressure Preacher off Campus

When a campus preacher comes to your school, you can always hold events to rebut his nonsense. It’s happened before a number of times.

But it’s not every day you see the campus newspaper cover the event like the Southern Illinois University Alestle did:

The full article is here:

Evangelist Keith Darrell made an appearance for the third time on campus despite the strong opposition he is used to seeing from SIU students.

Darrell reserved the free speech area in the Stratton Quadrangle from 12-5 p.m. Monday. However, he chose to leave an hour early after feeling unwelcomed by the students who surrounded him at the Rock.

While Darrell was preaching, sophomore mass communications major Meredith Wright, of Edwardsville, decided to show him what she thought about his message. Wright spray-painted “We are not sinners” on the Rock, beside which Darrell was standing.

How great is it to see students fighting back against a preacher’s madness?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Conrad

    No, this is not a good thing. Imagine an atheist person trying to explain his or her point of view and being driven off.

  • Baby_Raptor

    As long as it’s the people listening that are making the speaker leave, and not someone “in charge” censoring, I’m okay with that. We can’t be hypocritical. We need to support *everyone’s* right to speak, or we’re no better than the fundies.

  • John J. Ronald

    Nice to see people willing to stand up and call him on his bullshit, IMHO.

  • Golfie98

    People have a right to free speech but location and context play a part in where that free speech is exercised. You can’t just foist yourself on people and then start ranting at them and not expect to be made feel unwelcome. People have as much right to make their feelings known to him as he has to rant and if that causes him to feel under pressure that’s freedom too. From the above report he wasn’t explaining his point of view – he was just ranting. If an atheist did that in a church I would expect them to be made to feel unwelcome.

  • Deven Kale

    From the article:

    However, Darrell said he regrets that he appears angry when
    projecting his voice, as well as some of the things he said to students.

    “There’s probably a few things that I may have
    answered differently,” Darrell said. “There was one gentleman very early
    on in the day … I told him that he was ashamed of the Gospel because he
    said he was ashamed of me. I probably wouldn’t have done that if I
    could redo that.”

    That says it all right there. Appearing angry while projecting? That’s called an angry yell. This guy wasn’t just preaching his beliefs and ideas, he was quite obviously being judgmental towards the students and getting angry (at least from their perspective) at them. In other words it wasn’t actually what he was saying that was the problem, but his actions while saying it. If a person is acting in an offensive and intolerant manner, I have no problem with them being driven out.

    If he really doesn’t mean to be offensive, then he needs to get some vocal training and likely take an anger management class (or therapy, whatever AM is). Maybe then people wouldn’t see him as just an asshole and possibly even take him seriously.

  • northierthanthou

    I used to love it when the campus preachers showed up. Those guys did more damage to the reputation of their faith than anything I could ever have said or done.

  • jlb

     If an atheist walks onto a campus and ells everyone there that if the believe in religion they are a bunch of idiots and then reads from Dawkins and Hitchens like scripture, I would hope they would kick that person out. Preferably BEFORE a news article is written.

  • Isilzha

     Did the crowd go get pitchforks and torches?  Or did they just respond to his hate and he felt “unwelcome” or that the crowd was somewhat “hostile” to his rantings?  There’s a bit of difference between being forcibly driven off and not having your ideas well received!

  • Shicklgruber

    Students drove him from the “free speech” area? 

    How ironic when you think about it.

    First they come after the preachers they don’t like, then the come after…you.

  • Shicklgruber

    Uh, what makes you think you are any better than the “fundies”?

  • Sindigo

    Ooh ooh! I know this one! Intellectual honesty and not being a bigot.

  • Coyotenose

    Try actually reading the post and comments.

    Then try grasping that no one’s free speech was being infringed on. The students used theirs to make it clear that his ideas were awful and his presentation offensive.

    First they lie about the secularists, then they lie about… everything!

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m capable of critical thinking, I don’t discriminate against people based on how they were born or based on an old mythology book (and I try really hard to not discriminate at all), I’m capable of empathy, I don’t want to make everyone live according to my beliefs, I don’t think females are stupid breeding stock…Need I continue?

  • Baby_Raptor

    What is it with christianists and Nazi comparisons? 

  • Michael

    I think it was Ratzinger started it most recently.

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    Hm, in the article, there’s a point when Darrell had to make a decision on whether or not to leave.  I think his thought process says an awful lot.
    “‘These people hate everything I have to say. They hate God. Pack up and leave.’ ”
    Innnteresting… so this guy apparently speaks solely for his god and if people don’t like what he has to say, even when he’s spewing hateful, pompous, holier-than-thou speech, then they *must* hate his god, too.

    I’m personally amazed at the selfish hubris expressed by the religious, that they just *know* without a doubt that they’re saved and everyone who just happens to disagree with them is going to hell.  *shakes her head*

  • Rab Simpson

    It’s projection. All right wingers do it.

  • Greg Gauthier

    At the risk of being accused of a “nothing is ever good enough” standard, I have to say after reading the full article, that I’m not all that encouraged. They hounded him off campus, because:

    * Being told I’m going to hell makes me angry.
    * Why can’t we all just get along.
    * He’s not a true Christian.
    * He thinks he’s smarter than everyone because of his Bible.
    * H’es too negative and pessimistic.

    Not a single rational argument. In fact, in most quotes it was just “my version of the insanity that is Christianity is different from his version of the insanity that is Christianity.” 

    Why would anyone rational be frightened or offended by the statement “You’re going to hell”? It’s tantamount to being told that you’re being banished to Mordor. Whoever said it would be pitied for his obvious mental illness.

    I’ll be ecstatic the day I read a newspaper article that says, “Lunatic ranting in quad ignored and dismissed for entire weekend.” 

  • Indorri

    It likely isn’t “appeared”. Consider the last line you quoted. His word IS the gospel! If you’re defying him you’re defying god! How dare you defy him!

    He’s angry because he expects people to obey him. Authoritarians absolutely hate it when you don’t obey them.

  • RobertoTheChi

    Because we don’t force feed our views on people, discrimate and we aren’t a bunch of bigots. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

  • Indorri

    Now that’s very unfair. No generalizations.

  • RobertoTheChi

    If you consider people not appreciating being yelled at and told ridiculous things and therefore not being very welcoming as driving him off then you really need to get a grip on reality.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Because nobody wants to listen to lunatics ranting for an entire weekend.  That’s actually more cruel to the lunatics. They can work themselves up into a tizzy and then they go nuclear.  It’s actually more kind this way, for everybody.

  • Sapphirestar

    When did freedom to speak become freedom to deliver a public monologue to an unwilling audience of people who are denied the right to interrupt.

  • Nospam

    I confess to feeling some satisfaction from a loonie preacher being driven off campus,

    BUT such satisfaction is completely overshadowed by the ghastliness of anyone’s right to free speech being monkeyed with. The students tried to silence him, they talked over him instead of politely arguing or carrying signs or doing their own parallel event.  He was in a free speech area. He had reserved the space and the time. Silencing and harassment are troglodyte behavior. Shame, shame on those students.  The First Amendment is NOT about giving free speech to reasonable people that we agree with. The students acted like a crazy mob.

    Firsts they come for the loonie fundies, then they eventually come for you.

  • TiltedHorizon

    Here is a hint,  “fundies” don’t usually speak to their own and say: “We can’t be hypocritical. We need to support *everyone’s* right to speak…”

    But I would not expect someone who appears to pay tribute to Hitler (Shicklgruber) to understand such distinctions.

  • TiltedHorizon

     Google “Shicklgruber”, I think this commenter has a Nazi fetish.

  • Brian Pansky

    He was not pushed out, he felt unwelcome due to vocal opposition, so he left.  I suspect “unwelcome” is also the feeling many students may get when this nonsense occurs without vocal opposition.

  • TCC

    Somewhat off-topic: I was on the editorial staff of my college’s newspaper, and when we would go to the annual Illinois College Press Association convention, we would always remark at what a weird name that newspaper has. (If you didn’t figure it out yet, it’s a combination of Alton, East St. Louis, and Edwardsville, the three campuses.)

    It is encouraging at least to see the message of this preacher summarily rejected by students. I don’t think that anything unfortunate happened: the students made it clear that the preacher’s message wasn’t welcome, and the preacher decided to leave because he wasn’t getting anywhere. That’s not censorship or stifling free speech; that’s one example of speech overcoming another (repulsive) speech.

  • curtcameron

    No one’s free speech was messed with. The preacher had a right to go there, the students vigorously objected, he felt unwelcome and left. That’s free speech in action, not the suppression of free speech.

    Free speech doesn’t mean that you have to listen to crazy bullshit politely, and quietly nod. 

  • Gabriel

    You need to study more. You don’t understand what free speech is. Or you do and you are being dishonest.

  • TheExpatriate700

    So you’re ticked off that liberal Christians are standing up to the fanatics? If you read Sam Harris and other hard atheist authors, their main complaint about the liberal Christians is that  they don’t stand up against the wingnuts. I would think you would want to encourage this.

  • TheExpatriate700

    You don’t understand what free speech means. All it means is that the government won’t arrest you for a view. It has nothing to do with people accepting your views or treating you with respect if you deliver them in public.

  • Darrell Ross

    Your interpretation of free speech is a bit strange. 

    Is it supposed to protect someone from being vigorously disagreed with?
    “Silencing and harassment are troglodyte behavior.”
    And yet you suggest that the crowed should be silenced by the preacher and only demonstrate peaceably. 

    “The students acted like a crazy mob.”
    Um, no. They did not lynch the guy. They didn’t beat him up. 

    You seem to think that peacefully demonstrating would somehow send a message to a the preacher that his message was not getting through. I think that’s naive. If the crowd was quiet, he would assume they were listening and only preach louder. Any report on the “quiet crowd” might gladden the heart of a few pacifists but would also embolden more preachers since this “flock” was suffering from a guilty conscious.

    There has to be a threshold somewhere. I don’t think any violence should be doled out but hate speech is hate speech and should be vigorously countered, not quietly allowed to continue. Even silent protest would appear apathetic in the face of such bigotry.

  • Gus Snarp

    I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. I don’t feel particularly bad about it, but I’m not one hundred percent happy about it either. From my college experiences with campus preachers, there’s usually a lot of yelling back and forth, and I don’t think students are wrong to yell back when hate is yelled at them, I do think there are better responses (the bingo game was brilliant). What’s not clear in the article is what he was really saying. The campus preachers I’m familiar with say some truly hateful, vile, and disgusting things that tend to merit yelling as a response. This article makes him sound like that kind of preacher, but it’s not clear and there are no specifics. There are also no specifics about student behavior that make it sound particularly inappropriate. They are noted for yelling mocking statements that mirrored his, they are noted as surrounding him and getting very close, but no where does it say they threatened him, or showed any intention to engage in violence.

    So I tend to think that the campus belongs to the students. In all honesty, I don’t think just anyone has the right to speak on campus at all. Students do, and some campuses require people who are not associated with the University to have student group sponsorship before coming on campus. But let’s grant him the broader free speech right to speak since it’s a public school. Even then, the students have a right to speak and make it clear that his views are unwelcome and not commensurate with what they and the University stand for. As long as there’s no violence, or threat of violence, they seem well within their rights, too. If he felt unwelcome, good. He should. If he thinks he’s courageous for speaking his mind, he ought to have the courage to speak it while confronted by thousands of people who disagree and do so loudly. But a line should be drawn at threats of violence, and the only question is whether their volume, proximity, or words constituted a reasonable threat. I’m not convinced that it did, in spite of campus police taking a precautionary stance.

  • Rab Simpson

    It’s not a generalisation. All right wingers project their own nasty shit onto the left, it comes with the territory.

  • NoDoubtAboutIt

    I bet he has a big collection of Nazi memorabilia that he fondles tenderly every night.

  • b33bl3br0x

    I must comment that I think the young lady was wrong spray painting the rock.  That rock never called her a sinner. Why does she feel the need to bring the rock into the situation?

    I mean there it was just sitting there minding its own business not causing anyone any problems and BAM! now it’s got words all over it.

  • Eric M Boucher

    This is why we have freedom of speech, this guy can preach his message of hate to everyone, and we are all free to tell him how much we disagree right back.  When it becomes clear his message is unappreciated he can leave on his own.  I hope the school leaves this demonstration area open as long as these kinds of events remain free of violence.  Thank “god” for the First Amendment.

  • ZenDruid

    Where are all the rotten vegetables when you need them? 

  • jdm8

    As I understand it, and according to the linked article, he left in part because no one was listening. Free speech doesn’t guarantee anyone will listen.

    Free speech doesn’t mean you can’t be protested, you know, another part of the first amendment.

    Free speech of someone that’s yelling their message doesn’t mean opponents can’t yell back. Free speech doesn’t mean anyone has to respect what you say. It only means that you can say what you want to say without being arrested. Other laws protect him and others from bodily harm. I didn’t read the entire article, but I didn’t see anything where anyone was threatened in any way.

    I think the real problem is the evangelist who makes a habit of knowingly ruffling feathers, couldn’t take a taste of his own medicine.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    In your fantasy, where they belong.

    In real life that’s going too far, because it’s a physical assault.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    Hmm. How long before Christians start whining that the students infringed on his free speech with their free speech?

  • Aaron Scoggin

    You don’t have to imagine.. Just go to Youtube. There are dozens of examples for you to view.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    He has free speech. So did they. No government official forced him to leave. So why are you randomly talking about free speech?

  • Aaron Scoggin

    They just happened to be practicing their free speech at the same time. Can you cite for me a law that had been broken here? No? Move along.

  • Deven Kale

    When adding in the context of Randall’s own statements, such as telling the reporter “he regrets that he appears angry when projecting his voice,” and:

    There’s probably a few things that I may have answered differently[.] There was one gentleman very early on in the day … I told him that he was ashamed of the Gospel because he said he was ashamed of me. I probably wouldn’t have done that if I could redo that.

    Along with the students actual comments of ““I don’t want somebody’s morals being smashed in my face at school,” it starts to become fairly clear this is not simply a case of free speech. To me, reading the entire thing in context, it seems this man was deliberately offensive to his audience and tried, unsuccessfully, to play it down to the reporter.

  • kaydenpat

    Who would care?  Christianists are always whining about how they are being persecuted, even though they make up 80+% of the US population. It’s amazing.

  • wmdkitty

    I thought the name “Schicklgruber” looked familiar…

  • wmdkitty

    Sure, he has a right to spew his views all over the place.

    He does NOT, however, have the right to an audience.

  • Artor

    They have the right to interrupt, and by the article, it sounds like they exercised it pretty well!

  • Artor

    I think his point is that it’s better to present well-reasoned arguments to support your position, rather than “I don’t like what he said.”

  • Elisha Colter

    I attended a very liberal women’s college, where the “Pro-Life” club didn’t exactly have a huge fan base. One year they brought in an outside group to set up a display and give a talk on the horrors of abortion. Of course, their display was the usual giant posters of “aborted” fetuses (fact check: most of those pictures are from late-term miscarriages) and they really pushed everyone’s buttons by then standing in the middle of campus preaching that homosexuality is a disease, on a campus at was at least 25% gay. The kicker was that this happened to be on National Day of Silence, which at least half the school observed. So what do a bunch of pro-choice lesbians who have taken a vow not to speak for the day do? Obviously, you start making out right in front of the podium while a huge crowd of rainbow-ribbon wearing supporters claps for you. Needless to say, the club that sponsored their visit apologized (saying they didn’t know what this group was going to do) and the fundie whackjobs were never invited back to campus. Some people later saw them counter-protesting at a rally many of us attended and you can be sure that with the vow of silence no longer an issue they got a big piece of everyone’s minds!

  • SuburbanCommando

    Perhaps this is just a biased piece of journalism and the students at Edwardsville are the ones that were out of control, as the preacher indicates it is the worst campus he’s been on.  Here is another story that seems to paint a radically different picture.  The different factor, as far as I can tell, between the two days was the culture of the campus:

    Also, here is a story of him being arrested:

    Watching those videos, although they are rather brief, it seems that folks are offended by what he says, but there is nothing in there indicating “hate” or “anger,” but I’ve realized, as another poster pointed out in this thread, people aren’t really interested in rational arguments, but ad homs.  Unfortunately, emotivism is the ethic of the day, so “hate” and “anger” create the emotion people want.

  • Deven Kale

    You obviously didn’t read the comments on those. From your first link, one of the (misquoted) students (allegedly, of course, it’s the internet) said this:

    First of all, I never said it was fun to ask him questions, I said it was fun to troll that ignorant ass. … [S]econdly, you made this person look like he actually cared about his message by pointing out how he was nicer than most people. I could point out how he’s more polite than the Westboro Baptist Church, but that doesn’t mean that he still isn’t a greedy person out here antagonizing people so that he will get hit in order to sue the school. This man … was constantly shown to be an ignorant prick who knew little about what he was talking about. He singled out people from other religion and called them immoral. … [He said] women deserve to be below men, and claimed that evolution isn’t real when he didn’t know a thing about evolution. The guy was able to make a few points, but overall, he was a jerk who tries to cause anger in people with his ignorance and hatred.

    In regards to your second link, he was arrested because he was Trespassing and, yet again in the words of a commenter who was actually there,

    [H]e was visibly agitated, wide-eyed and shouting about how all women are whores and denigrating many other members of our campus community. His behavior was erratic and anything but peaceful.

    In other words, crazy wide-eyed lunatic rants on campus for five hours before finally being arrested. It’s no wonder they came at him from behind.

    Seriously SuburbanCommando, you really need to pay more attention to your links. They sure as hell don’t say what you think they say.

  • SuburbanCommando

    Devan, you are a perfect example of what is wrong in the world, because you can’t have a conversation with a guy like you, but you just try to play a game of gotcha.  You either don’t have many friends in real life or you don’t treat people in real life like you do in a comments section.  You are clearly irritated by this guy and have some anger towards him, and apparently agitated with me as well.   

    Lets see what I wrote: “PERHAPS…”  I didn’t say that it was, I simply said perhaps…The article states, “He was definitely more polite that other preachers we’ve had,” Morris said. “I’ve seen Preacher Bob twice when OSU police have been working the crowds to make sure nothing went down… This guy was really respectful.”

    So, what do you do?  You go to the comments section.  You say, “They sure as hell don’t say what you think they say.”  Why?  Because you went to the comments section where anyone can post whatever they want? Again, because you had difficulty grasping it the first time due to your own bias and hatred, I started things off with “PERHAPS…” and was referring to the respective articles.  Please note: I said, “Paints a different picture.”  What did? I was referring to the two articles not the comments section. Seriously, Devan, you really need to pay more attention to what you are reading and responding to.  I sure as hell didn’t say what you think I said. 

    Watching those videos and the audio conversation off that link, I will say that it simply doesn’t align with what that guy claims in the comments section.  What was my point?  “Watching those videos, ALTHOUGH THEY ARE RATHER BRIEF, it seems that folks are offended by what he says, but THERE IS NOTHING IN THERE INDICATING “HATE” OR “ANGER,” but I’ve realized, as another poster pointed out in this thread, people aren’t really interested in rational arguments, but ad homs.  And, well, you fall right in.

    Not sure where you get “trespassing” from, as I don’t see that in the article.  The article only states, “Limited to comment pending investigation, Sgt. Dennis Godoy of the YSU Police said Darrell refused to present identification to arresting officer Dominic Fabrizio.”  

    Anyway, I’ll let you respond and won’t respond further, because you are clearly irritated and agitated by this guy.  It is sad that there is so much hatred in the world and that seek to fan it rather than peace and love.

  • Deven Kale


    All that ranting about your one word, “perhaps,” and all because you completely ignore my own word, “allegedly.”

    Am I irritated or agitated by this guy? No more than I am at any other guy wandering around telling everybody they’re going to hell, or somehow worth less because they’re just as human as he is. Otherwise there’s really nothing special about him to make me more upset than all the others.

    Am I irritated or agitated by you? A little bit, because you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about but act like you do. In the case of his arrest, you have to know something about the situation they didn’t mention. On all of the University campus’ that I’ve ever been to, there are approved areas for outside speakers to use. The walkway between two buildings is, I guarantee you, not an approved speaking area. This means he was Trespassing, which is confirmed by one of the commenters on that story.

    I find it surprising that you think a short clip of a five-hour rant is going to give you any idea at all of what the rest of it was. Is it not possible that the clip was the only bit where the guy wasn’t spewing anger and hate and calling women whores to their face? Could it be that, during the remainder of the time he wasn’t nearly as nice as he was there? These are things you cannot know, so making a full judgement based off of that brief clip is impossible. Otherwise I don’t know you, so I have no other reason to be irritated with you.

    I tend to use the comments section of most news articles to try and temper the spin inherent in the writing of most news writers. I admit, it’s not always accurate to do so. Sometimes it even leads me to the wrong conclusion, but so does always taking the original stories at face value.

    Also, I don’t just go around looking for “gotcha” moments. My goal is to correct people when I know that something they’ve said is wrong. Generally speaking I ignore it, but when somebody makes a big mistake like taking the spin of some news writer while ignoring the words of those who were actually there, I can’t help but point it out to them.

  • wmdkitty

     Devan, you are a perfect example of what is wrong in the world, because
    you can’t have a conversation with a guy like you, but you just try to
    play a game of gotcha.

    You… you don’t know him very well, do you? *muffled laughter*

  • SuburbanCommando

    No, I “don’t know him very well…”  I am, however, a Christian and saw him at my campus and, yes, I am trying to give a different perspective, but…

  • kboehne

    Your exactly spot on.