Public sermons, freedom to speak obscenely on campus

Lauren Bana, Contributing Writer

Most people have either seen or heard about the public sermons given by local radical ‘Christian’ Brother Emmanuel. I, myself, have had the opportunity to witness several of his ‘rants’ on campus. The first encounter was probably the most shocking.

On my way to the Gold garage, I noticed an older gentleman in suspenders firmly holding the Bible in his right hand. At first, it seemed as though he was just shouting obscenities, since he was solely yelling about fornication and masturbation.

But once I stopped to listen, it was clear that he was attempting to preach the ‘word of God’ to passing students and faculty. He allowed people to ask questions, but he seldom answered them. Instead, he would interrupt them, and call them masturbators, homosexuals, and fornicators. He would address people by certain aspects about them that he deemed inappropriate in the eyes of God, such as ‘short-shorts’, ‘cameltoe’, and ‘tight pants.’ Even people from several of FIU’s Christian clubs, who were attempting to counter his rants were not excluded from his bigotry.

I watched as the crowd of people enlarged, and the public sermon became a public spectacle. Students would run up to him to take pictures as he continued with his speech. They would yell, “I’m a masturbator and proud of it,” in his face, and his only response would be, “You’re going to burn in eternal hellfire!”

This was probably one of the most verbally violent events that I have ever witnessed.

This display of radical ‘Christianity’ has been around for years, and with the First Amendment readily available, it’s going to stick around.

Freedom of speech is an important piece of American history that makes this country great, but should we stand for verbal abuse on our streets and on our campuses?

“I think he’s entitled to talk about whatever he wants, but he shouldn’t be verbally abusing people,” said junior English major, Jake Moffett. “There should be a rule that eliminates public verbal abuse from freedom of speech.”

As the First Amendment states, we as Americans are allowed the right to speak freely without censorship, but when does freedom of expression become verbal abuse towards the public?

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, many universities across the country have adopted codes for prohibiting speech on campus that degrades or offends any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

In the case of Brother Emmanuel, he has crossed several of those lines, and if he were on any of those campuses that have incorporated this rule, he would not be allowed to give his sermon. As a nation, shouldn’t we reinforce this rule?
I believe Brother Emmanuel has overstayed his welcome at FIU being that he cannot refrain from offending students in their place of study. If he is going to preach his own idea of what the Bible states, then he should do so without verbally abusing other people. Freedom of speech may be a right but if people cannot put it to use without misconstruing its purpose and insulting others, then it should not be available to them.