Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Observation As I sit near a flowerbed in Buchtel Commons, almost directly across from the Bierce Library, the gloomy dismal day seems to evaporate by the plethora of shiny, smiling faces of the many students walking by. As I sit down, two Christian activists preach aloud, holding signs reading, "You are born a worthless sinner, headed for hell" and "He who loves his life shall lose it." Two little boys, handing out pamphlets that explain their purpose for being there, accompany both women preachers. The older of the two women is wearing a black jacket, light-colored jeans; her blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. The other woman has dyed blond hair, a plain green shirt, and dark blue jeans. When they move and walk around, I move with them, following them until they meet up with each other. When the two women begin talking to each other, a group of guys (four black and two white) storm up to them because, when they were walking by, the older of the two ladies tells them they are going to hell.

"How you gonna tell me I'm goin' to hell? I've been saved. Man, what you talkin' is nonsense," one of the black guys yells at the pitiful looking white woman. Words then become mixed up and undecipherable as she tries to justify her beliefs and simultaneously the other five guys are yelling and screaming at her. The groups of guys soon become tired of her and leave just as fast as they appeared. The woman, acting as if nothing had ever happened, goes back to her preaching, and in a broken voice yells, "Jesus is not religion. He doesn't love you. He doesn't care for you. All Jesus wants you to do is to correct all of the sins you have been born with; the sins that you inherited from your parents." She breaks from her yelling to take a drink of bottled water and then states, "Just because you go to church doesn't mean you know God or Jesus. Nor does it mean that they love you. Going to church also doesn't make you a Christian or being saved doesn't wash away all of your inherited sins." She stops yelling and talks to the little boy who is accompanying her. They walk over to a sign set up in the middle of the commons that reads, "Seek out Jesus, Not a "˜Church' to find true salvation." I watch for another minute, and it does not take long for their next victim to come along. Their victim is a black man in a motorized wheel chair. I get a little closer (thinking it might be interesting) to hear what they have to say to him. The younger of the two women asks him, "Do you go to church?" He then lifts up his left arm and tries to flick the woman off as he continues along his bumpy journey along the uneven brick pathway. The younger woman appears to be unaffected by this and walks right back into my line of sight, as a mixed girl, dressed in a red windbreaker jacket, blue jeans, and pulled back hair, walks right up to the older preacher and says, "You need to change your sign," as she continues on her way. The woman turns to the girl, who now has her back to her, and says, "You need to change your heart." As soon as the woman says that, a group of guys, who are accompanied by a girl, sit on a bench near me and discuss the conversation they had with younger of the two women moments ago. One of the boys, who is wearing a black, backwards baseball cap, yellow skater shirt, and dark green windbreaker pants, smoking a cigarette, says in a joking and funny sounding voice, "As soon as the young dude came up to me, I told him I was an atheist and the older bitch said "˜Who is your god then?' I told her that the Devil is my god." They begin to laugh and I soon find myself laughing because his voice is crackly, almost like static, and in a tone that I have never heard before. He proceeds with his joke, loud enough so the older woman could hear him, "Last night I made a girl say Jesus, does that count?" I look back as they begin laughing and, instinctively, I respond with a smile and a slight chuckle. Right in the middle of their laughing, the girl's cell phone rings and she picks up with a predictable "Hello?" She begins to tell the listener what the woman, who is still in front of her, says, and she recalls the events that I had just heard. The girl then grabs her bag and walks off and her guy friends follow soon after.

The preacher woman and the boy accompanying her walk over to meet up with the other girl again. I grab my bag and walk away so that the young boy cannot have a chance to come up to me and hand me a useless pamphlet. As soon as I turn around, a taller brown haired student, wearing blue jeans and a sweater tied around her waist, walks past the older lady, who states, "You not a Christian!" The girl turns around and gets into the preacher woman's face and yells, "You don't know shit about me. You can't judge me. You don't know where I've been. How can you tell me I'm not a Christian?" I begin having feelings of nervousness because I thought for sure that the preacher woman was going to get hit. However, before she can respond to the girl yelling at her, the girl walks over a little bit closer, only to find that the preacher woman is turning her back to her and trying to return to her job. I then grab my backpack and get ready to leave for fear of what might happen, but get stopped by the little boy who asks me in a soft voice and slight lisp, "Do you want to know Jesus?" I knock the pamphlet out of his hand, turn my back to him, and walk away. As I am walking away, there are many students still discussing what is going on. I hear many comments like, "This is the kind of shit that makes me not want to go to church," and "Oh man, she's at it again." I try to get what everyone is saying, but the voices dwindle as I begin to approach Buchtel Hall.