By Taneen Momeni
Protestors affiliated with the Key of David Christian Center were met by opposing UMD students Tuesday in front of McKeldin Library.
Four church members — two adolescent boys and two adult men — were holding signs, shouting at people and filming themselves on the mall. Normally these types of protestors are ignored, but by around 12:30 p.m., a crowd of almost hundreds of students had begun to surround them.
The church group had many hateful signs that would cite Bible verses, condemn different demographics of people to hell and list everything that makes one close to damnation. Some signs read “Jesus or Hellfire,” “Feminists Support Pedophilia” and “Stop Acting Like Children 1 Corinthians 13:11.” Another sign warned certain groups, such as “masturbators, Muslims, pants saggers” and more, that they must “obey Jesus or Hellfire.”
Their beliefs did not stop at the signs. The men were not afraid of engaging with the crowd, responding with sexist and anti-gay slurs.
One female student on the side of the crowd yelled obscenities to the most vocal Christian protestor, and he did not hesitate to respond.
“Were you raped when you were young?” he said.
He made sure to share the Key of David Christian Center’s beliefs through chants as well.
“Masturbation today, serial killer tomorrow,” he said.
Many UMD students did not tolerate this kind of speech on their campus. Students left class to gather around. Some students began pounding drums, strumming a banjo or playing a saxophone to drown out the hate speech. Others promoted different rallies and marches, such as the climate change rally in Washington. A handful of students took off their shirts in response to the sexist speech the Christian protestors were spreading.
Audrey Lenahan, a sophomore, was at the protest when it began. She emphasized how their messages against women and gay people were unacceptable. She was one of the first people to take off her shirt in protest of the group.
“I felt it was a powerful image to see women standing in solidarity together, doing what he [the protestor] felt was pedophilia,” Lenahan said.
In the back of the crowd, a man took his shirt off and danced with another shirtless man, while trying to rally all the shirtless people to go to the front together.
“Hellfire for sale!” he said, repeatedly.
Other students created posters that read “God is a gay woman,” “Don’t be a fucking asshole” and “God called he said he loves hoes too.” Same-sex pairs of students would kiss in front of the demonstrators to counter their homophobic ideas; many threw condoms, tampons and dildos into the crowds as well.
Students across the protest were confused why the protestors had come to UMD in the first place, especially because the school is mostly liberal.
“They’re insane for coming. The message isn’t going to stick to anyone here,” senior Matt Kasa said.
The police acted as crowd control. They set up “Do not cross” tape and cones to ensure that the students wouldn’t get to the protestors. Some students thought they were there to tell the church members to go away.
“When the police first got here, I was hoping they would get him to leave. Obviously people have different views, but I think this is an unproductive one,” senior Kavon Badie said.
Laura Maddock, a senior who identifies as a Christian, was displeased by how they were using God’s name to back-up their bigotry.
“It’s sad they were misrepresenting what it means to truly believe in God,” Maddock said.
“But I was proud to see that students stepped up and were all on the same side.”
At the end of the over 3-hour-long protest, the members of the Key of David Christian Center packed up their belongings and left. Police escorted the members to deter students from following them to the garage.
Although the protestors were spreading hateful messages, UMD students came together against the oppressive and discriminatory ideas.
“I was and am very disgusted, but then I realized there was literally no one on campus who agreed with them,” sophomore Ella Johnson said. “We all banded together.”
Featured Photo Credit: Students gather around the protestors. (Taneen Momeni/Bloc Reporter)
Taneen Momeni is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.