|Students Clash with Christian Activists
by Angela Bacca, staff writer
APRIL 16, 2007 6:54 PM
|About 100 passing students gathered in the Cesar Chavez Student Center’s quad Monday afternoon to protest a small, independent, unnamed, Christian group which was there to spread what the members called “the word of God”; which included angry, taunting speeches against homosexuality.
The crowd only continued to grow as students came forward to fight back against what many considered hurtful and inflammatory messages.
As Kevin Farrer, a roofer from Fremont, preached to the crowd, students gathered together to protest against what he was saying.
“Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay, Born-Again Bigot Go Away!” the crowd chanted as Farrer continued to taunt the crowd.
“You’re not safe from the wrath of God!” he yelled back.
According to Farrer, the school gave his group permission to be on campus. In the last week they have visited UC Berkeley, Stanford and UC Davis. The group’s next stop will be Chabot College in the East Bay.
He said that of all the campuses they have visited so far, the biggest crowd and the angriest reactions have been at SF State.
The group cited freedom of speech as a valid reason for them to be on campus and spreading its message.
“I am for freedom of speech, that’s why I came out here,” said Marisa Castro, a sociology major and lesbian who held a poster reading “I am Gay and Jesus Loves Me” alongside the group’s sign reading “Warning Judgment; Fornicators, Drunkards, Thieves, Adulterers, God Haters, Liars [and in bold capital font] HOMOSEXUALS.”
The crowd gathered together to mock the group and refute the anti-homosexuality messages it was preaching. Demonstrations included a public lesbian make-out session and condom offerings.
John Wattson, a 30-year-old history grad student, said that he offered the condoms so “he’d have safe sex and wouldn’t breed more intolerance.”
Other students taunted Farrer by yelling things at him like, “You just need to get laid.”
“We’re just preachers and they’re just listening,” said the Christian sign-holder, who would only identify himself as “Norman.”
“He’s condemned the crowd to death like 20 times,” said Tim Guichard, a graduate student in women’s studies. Guichard put in his word to Farrer by yelling back at him, “Jesus gave me herpes.”
“I’m gay and he is here at one of the few places I shouldn’t have to feel judged,” said Chris Wiebe, a 19-year-old undeclared sophomore, “He is sitting here screaming at us ‘You’re going to Hell!’” said Wiebe, who volunteers at a gay and lesbian center downtown. He said that he felt as a gay student he was being attacked.
The group continued to ignore pleas from students to leave the campus. “I don’t even know why he is still here,” said Jennifer Glass, a 19-year-old freshman business major, “[Farrer] is a disgrace to God.”
“This is an opportunity to reinforce ridiculous stereotypes,” said Brandon Bravo, a devout Roman Catholic cellular and molecular biology graduate student, “The Bible said we should avoid giving nonbelievers the opportunity to blasphemy. [Farrer is] turning something that is sacred into a joke. I’m not the person who is interested in hating or oppressing anyone.”
Bravo continued to try to stop the group and speak with them peacefully, even as they were being escorted off campus by University Police.
“I am finding this effective,” said “Norman” to Bravo as they were walking up Holloway Avenue with UPD. “[College students] are the next generation of people. These are the people who are being trained to be the doctors and lawyers.”
“I don’t force my views on people,” Bravo said. “It is just wasted words unless people want to hear it.”
Before being escorted off campus, students began to crowd even tighter around the group and chanted, “No Hate at State,” along with more public displays from gay and straight students.
As the crowd swelled, a heated argument arose between group member Tom Griner and 23-year-old marketing student Rachael Gero. Gero, a bisexual, was walking from class when she encountered the protestors.
“I was the first to say ‘take your homophobic crap and go home,'” Gero said. “That’s not God’s love. I can’t believe [Griner] is here at State.”
“They are the ones hating,” Griner said of the crowd. “We’re just telling them about right and wrong.”
The group brought along a video camera “for protection,” Farrer said. The group films all of its events, should students become violent.
Farrer and other group members were pressured to leave as the crowd circled around them and an unnamed faculty member whispered something into his ear.
Perry Shirley, Katie Peoples, Khari Johnson, and Daniel Hug contributed to this story.
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