Open-air preachers use Compass as makeshift pulpit

Ashley Chapman
Contributing Writer
VCU’s public, diverse campus is open to students from all cultures, backgrounds and religious beliefs. This freedom, though, also extends to on-campus visitors.

Traveling preachers come to VCU to preach the Christian message to students. Student reactions to the presence of these preachers are mixed. Some find the preachers annoying but harmless, while others appreciate the message. However, many students find the sermons offensive and hurtful.

Most students resent the preachers using VCU as a makeshift pulpit and are uncomfortable with the sermons.

Dapo Kasali, one of the preachers that frequent VCU’s campus, says he chooses VCU because it’s logical to spread the word of Christ where the most people congregate. He also says students are the best audience.

“There are a lot of students who are lost,” Kasali said. “Christ can find them. If I touch even just one soul – and send them to God – I have done my mission.”

Many students, however, don’t warmly welcome this “mission.”

VCU student Corey Scott says he agrees a college campus is an effective place to spread a message, though the sermons are not inspirational to him.

“Many students are looking for something,” Scott said. “For some, religion fills that.”

Not all of the preachers send the same message. For most students, the content of some of the sermons is offensive. VCU student Paula Wallace said she thought she was being attacked when one of the preachers criticized her race.

“The sermons make me very uncomfortable,” Wallace said. “Telling me I am going to hell for being biracial. I almost cried when he said this. My race is so essential to who I am as a person. I was appalled, confused, angry and upset.”

Wallace and other students said they resent being attacked based on lifestyle and they shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable while trying to get an education. A college campus should be a safe environment.

VCU student Stephanie Herman agrees with Wallace. She says the preacher’s messages are inappropriate for a college campus setting.

“I have heard men from the sermons say the words ‘slut,’ ‘faggot’ and other extremely offensive terms throughout the course of their sermons,” Herman said. “This is not an appropriate setting anywhere, much less a setting where there are young and impressionable adults.”

Other students are not offended by the presence of the preachers … only annoyed. Perla Corona, VCU student, says the preachers should stay on the outskirts of campus because they are distracting.

“I think of that man as an obnoxious vendor,” Corona said. “If I want to buy your product, I will go to your store.”

Scott says he thinks having the preachers here is a testament to the level of freedom of speech and expression that exists on campus.

“The fact that there are evangelists who come to campus only enriches the already diverse environment,” Scott said. “It makes me proud to know that I can go to a university where men stand in the heart of campus trying to preach their message. Many universities would publicly frown upon this type of behavior.”

Kasali says he is here because this is where the Lord has told him to go.

“The Lord says go into the world and preach the gospel,” Kasali said. “So that’s really my goal; to tell people about Jesus. I’m kind of like an advertisement booth for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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