An organization called the Bible Believers antagonized students while preaching their views in the Student Center quad and later in front of Alexander Kasser Theater on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Capt. Kieran Barrett, the group of about five non-students were on campus trying to bait students into verbal arguments with signs saying “Women belong in the kitchen” and sweaters that had “Fear God” written on them.
The Bible Believers, originally from Philadelphia, travel to various colleges and universities on the east coast. Their goal is to spread their faith and make students “repent their sins.”
“Oh, we love students,” said Pastor Lowelo, a member of the group who declined to give his last name. “We are warning them about hell to come because of their sins, and Jesus is the answer. People should read the Bible and stop sinning.”
Students were seen visually upset with the comments of the organization. Several of the female students were angry and offended by their views on rape and a woman’s place in society. Other students were enraged by their homophobic comments.
“I think it is wrong that other people try to force their religion on other people because not everyone is Christian or [has] the same love of Christianity,” said sophomore English major Admiral Ozochiawaeze. “And to blame victims about rape is blasphemy in my opinion. It is just infuriating [and] it’s kind of funny to yell back, but I don’t know how that makes us look.”
The University Police Department kept students a few feet away from the demonstrators as they protested and created a circle around the group. The organization preached their various opinions on topics of women, LGBTQ people and even different religions.
“According to my understanding, [the Bible Believers] came to discuss issues from the Bible and they have a right to do so,” Barrett said. “Therefore, we are here to make sure that the people at this university are kept safe and that they have their constitutional right to discuss things.”
A few students led a counter protest to drown out the message of the Bible Believers. While many students were displeased with the protest displayed by the organization, they agreed that everyone had the right to express their own opinions and belief.
“So much of the things he is talking about is not in accordance with the Christian mission or Christian philosophy that I was exposed to,” said junior political science major Bo DePaul. “Part of me is having a little bit of fun, and another part of me really hates hypocrisy, but he is engaging in his free speech and so am I.”
Junior humanities major AJ Nichols, who stood in front of the group and chanted back responses, wanted everyone to know that Montclair State’s views were separate from this organization.
“Honestly this demonstration is not what this community stands for,” Nichols said. “The fact that we’re all coming together to speak against this kind of hate is powerful and important. Spread love. That’s all we need on this campus.”