This is my fourth year at Texas State, and over the years, around this time of year I have always paid avid attention to one recurring event in particular. Brother Jed, a Christian “missionary” is getting ready to make his annual return to Texas State. He comes through Texas and hits several schools including our own. He brings with him a small group of like-minded individuals who spew hatred and vitriol, and every single year, we the student body give them exactly what they want—attention.
The problem with Brother Jed is that he gets under the skin of far too many people. He spouts derogatory terms at everyone based on what they wear, how they look, what they are doing or the types of people they are around. Worst of all, Brother Jed is actually quite good at picking up on context clues about the people he’s talking to. He quickly jumps to accusations such as “what man in your life molested you at such a young age to make you turn out this way?” or “what positive female role model was missing from your life to force you to think homosexuality was okay?” Such remarks are designed simply to arouse pain and anger in his audience.
The biggest problem, though, is he does all of this for the singular reason of causing us to get as angry as possible. He has actually stated if he can make us angry or hateful toward him, it means we are thinking about Jesus and he has done his job.
Every single year Brother Jed comes, students never seem to grasp the fact that he wants us to yell at him and argue with him, and even to troll and insult him. He is not here to convert or convince anyone. He is only here because he has a large group of followers who pay for him to incite as much anger and pain as he can muster. These followers of Brother Jed pay him larger donations, not smaller, when we get upset that he is here. The harder we fight against him, yell at him, make signs criticizing him, and stand in front of him calling him horrible names, the more donations he gets from his followers because to them that means he is doing his job.
The only way to stop Brother Jed from having a negative impact on us and our university is simple—completely ignore him. This simple concept has eluded us for far too long. Instead, every year we have the same cycle. He shows up, he yells mean insults at people who stop to argue and other people gather to watch the argument. Then some other Christians will show up because they think he is wrong and need to convince him he is right. Shortly after, they’ll give up but still stay out around him trying to convince the now larger crowd that he is not a real Christian and they can show people what true Christianity is about. Around the same time, atheists or people of differing beliefs will also show up with signs declaring Brother Jed’s idiocy or their own love of masturbation or homosexual activities designed to anger Brother Jed. Finally, people who just want to troll the event show up and cause as much commotion as possible to disrupt the event. Every single year this same cycle occurs, and it does nothing but draw a larger crowd around him.
I get it. People think if they are not supporting Brother Jed, being there making fun of him will hurt him. It does not hurt him though. It helps him financially. The harder we fight with tactics like that, the more financial support he gets from his followers and the more drive he gets to keep coming back.
Instead, this year as the time for his return approaches, I urge and beg we try a different tactic. Ignore him. Completely and absolutely ignore his entire presence. When Brother Jed comes to stand at the Stallions and starts spouting insults, walk away and leave The Quad as fast as you can. If you see other students starting to gather, give them a quick run down about how he operates, what he is doing, why it is counter-productive to stand there, and then ask them to please leave so they do not accidentally help him in his quest for hatred. Tell everyone Brother Jed is coming soon to campus. He’s already making rounds at other Texas schools and I believe he will be here either this week or next. Let everyone know he must be ignored. New students who have never seen him before will be curious and will naturally form a crowd around him, but please inform them that giving him any sort of attention is giving him the backing and support he needs to keep being hateful. Even trolling him, and attempting to drive him off campus with hatred will support him.
Finally, keep in mind one thing. We are a united student body. You and your friends may be able to withstand his hatred and his vitriol just fine, but can you be sure there is not someone amongst our numbers that would be hurt and affected by the words he aims at them? Because if you let yourself pay him the attention he wants, you are opening the door for him to hurt someone else around you when you had the power to stop that merely by ignoring him.
This year, let us all fight Brother Jed in the only effective way we can, for ourselves and for those around us. Ignore Brother Jed completely and entirely. Let his message fall on deaf ears, and do not allow yourself to form the crowd around him that he so desires.