Commentary: Open-air preachers missing big picture

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Religious zealots are walking a thin line.

“Turn or burn” is the first thing you hear as you walk by the Green on your way to class while the open-air preachers attempt to convince students they are going to hell.

They scream, push and antagonize students to believe in a God who is portrayed in the Bible as forgiving and loving. But their efforts are contradictory.

If they want students to embrace a loving God, then maybe they should show some love themselves by dropping the large signs and intense language that turn people away from God.

Right now all the open-air preachers are doing is giving God a bad reputation at UNF.

“I don’t believe in what the open-air preachers are doing because they are bringing a bad name to God,” said Jessica Lopez, a junior sociology major who is actively involved in on-campus ministries. “If someone from out of town were to visit UNF on a day they’re here, they might see Jacksonville as very extreme.”

Some Christians are too extreme. It seems as if they have a checklist of the number of people they have to bring to God, and it’s a major turn off.

I agree with what Casting Crowns has to say in its song “What This World Needs.”     The lyrics read: “We can be passionate about what we believe. But we can’t strap ourselves to the gospels, because we’re slowing it down. Jesus is going to save the world, but maybe the best thing we can do is just get out of the way.”

The preachers on the Green are missing the big picture.

Reading the Bible, praying and going on mission trips are all worthwhile things to do if Christianity is your religion. And it’s great if you want to share your beliefs and opinions with others. But don’t be so pushy about it.

Not once have I see Buddhists or Hindus aggressively pursuing students on the Green saying you’ll turn into a rock if you wear a short skirt or don’t accept their religion as your own belief.

But I have met some who are always willing to discuss their beliefs in a relaxed manner.

Maybe we should learn something from them.

One of the most important things the Bible says in the New Testament is that Jesus loves us so much that he died for us.

Christians are supposed to follow in his example, but some religious zealots have lost sight of the core value God possesses: love.

And they are putting an awful taste in the students’ mouths.

E-mail Heather Furey at [email protected]