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The Signs of Small Men
by Michael Giardina

Every day we get to make a simple decision: Are we going to repent and enter the kingdom of heaven or burn in the depths of hell? I learned of this wonderful dilemma from a bunch of arrogant, impudent snobs who decided to wave around vague, shallow and obnoxious signs while acting like preachers on the Quad.

These men carried huge signs that read, "Repent! Stop breaking God's commandments. Call upon Jesus and be saved from Hell." They also wore cute shirts that read, "Repent or perish."

I cherish free speech. I believe that anyone should be able to voice their opinions without qualification. Nonetheless, when someone actively hurts others or creates a hostile environment for our fellow students, I believe they should be met with hostile resistance.

One of these boisterous evangelists held up a sign warning, "fornicators, drunkards, thieves, adulterers, god haters, liars and homosexuals" of their imminent judgment day.

Interestingly enough, the word "liars" was the only bold word and the word "homosexuals" was in capital letters that spanned the entire poster. Thanks for creating a hierarchy for us just in case we weren't sure which sin was worse than the others.

I can't imagine any religion earnestly suggesting we hurt, ostricize, or degrade others. How do you think gay and lesbian students felt while reading such a sign?

Martin Luther King was murdered, moreover assassinated while preaching peace and equality. In comparison, these men--who blindly preach discrimination and hatred--are met with blank stares, shaking heads and sighs from the student body.

Where is our spirit? We should use our freedom of speech to act out against, if not completely overwhelm these people. A number of devout Christians watched this event with clear indignation and disgust, yet most said nothing.

I am not a particularly religious guy. In some sense, this gives me a nice objective standpoint. For example, if there really is a heaven, are these guys going to get in? If so, is this where you want to spend the rest of eternity?

I don't think I have met one person I actually cared about or respected who has not fornicated, gotten drunk, stolen something, cheated, lied or experimented with his or her sexual options. If these acts doom us to hell, as the small men with big signs want us to believe, then who are we going to end up meeting in this kingdom of bliss?

I'd also like to know whom these men were referring to when they actively warned 'god haters.' What is a god hater? If they were referring to atheists, they have missed their point. Atheists are people who don't believe in a deity. It's pretty hard to hate something you don't believe in. It is, however, easy to hate people who make our friends' lives more difficult.

Amazingly, these men keep coming back year after year. Out of the three people making conversation with them, one student was probably the most intelligent philosophy major on campus, one was a Buddhist who believes in the cosmic law of cause and effect, and one was the creator of a new Davis music group, "Artists for Peace." Where was everyone else?

What do these little sign men want to prove? I saw Christians turn their cheeks while others asked these men to answer difficult questions. Nonetheless, all was generally passive.

If these men come back to our campus, I recommend serious grilling. If you feel they are stepping across a boundary, challenge them. Stand up for yourself and your fellow students. Christians, if you truly feel God's love, then speak to these men. Show them that they are misguided. Don't let them paint your religion with such disgrace and discrimination.



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