Secular Alliance plays preacher bingo with Brother Jed
The Secular Alliance at IU set up a table between Woodburn and Ballantine halls Wednesday with a sign that said, “Free Thought Day!”
Alongside their pamphlets describing atheism, agnosticism and free thinking, members of the SAIU hawked Brother Jed Bingo cards.
“I represent the Kingdom of God,” Brother Jed declared.
A shuffling crowd of students surrounded Brother Jed, smiling and giving each other quizzical looks. Some filmed with their phone cameras. Many shouted questions.
“How do I find a man who doesn’t masturbate?” one girl shouted.
The crowd buzzed with laughter, but Brother Jed plowed on.
“That’s a big problem here at IU,” Brother Jed answered.
“Masturbates!” someone yelled. “Mark your cards!”
Some spaces said “I used to be like you kids” and “Tells crowd to be quiet.”
The prizes for winning included a “Free Inquiry” or “Skeptical Inquiry” magazine, which could also be obtained by trading in copies of the New Testament the Gideons International handed out.
“He’s an adorable old man,” SAIU President Jessika Griffin said of Brother Jed. “And then he calls you a slut.”
Brother Jed has been a campus staple since the 1970s. He first began his preaching at the University of Missouri.
IU was one of the first places he preached, said Sister Cindy, Brother Jed’s wife.
The pair visits different campuses five days a week for five hours a day, Sister Cindy said.
While Brother Jed and SAIU did not purposefully seek to speak at the same place at the same time, the combination assisted the SAIU, Griffin said.
“Brother Jed is always a boom to our membership,” SAIU member Ian Cunningham said with a smile.
In spite of differing ideologies, crowd members never did more than verbally spar.
A man in a wheelchair held a sign that said, “I’m gay and God loves me!” and occasionally sang lines from songs about acceptance.
“I always come over here because it’s funny, and the reaction from the crowd is always good,” senior Brandon Nallenweg said.
Free Thought Day encouraged students to ask questions about their own beliefs, Griffin said. A poster on the SAIU table posed questions for students and encouraged them to write their own.
Cunningham at one point asked Jed if he wished to participate in Free Thought Day .
“If you are thinking clearly and logically, your thoughts will lead you to God,” Brother Jed said. “If you are an agnostic or atheist, you are not thinking clearly.”
Sister Cindy debated preaching techniques with Christian students. One student explained he believed that Brother Jed needed to use a more loving approach.
“I think most students know God loves them,” Sister Cindy said. “We’re here to teach students to fear God.”
She and Brother Jed are particularly hard on the “party animal lifestyle,” she said.
Overall, the day was a success, Griffin said.
“Brother Jed is good for Free Thought Day,” Cunningham said. “He makes everyone stop and think about religion.”
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