Outreach outrage

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Jonathen Ruesch / THE FLARE || Open Air Outreach preachers rile students up through fire-and-brimstone messages on Oct. 9.

Shouts of anger and messages of repentance echoed through Lee Mall last week as students crowded around a group of street preachers. The tension was high as students tightly packed around the man who called for all to repent of their sins, yelling that they were going to go to hell, placing judgment by calling students homosexuals and saying that gangsters don’t go to college.

“Many of you are in trouble with God. Many of you will party hardy on the weekend, bump and grind and dirty dance at the club,” said Jesse Morrell, Open Air Outreach preacher.

This message was one of many that did not sit well with some students. Students started to use Bible references to counter Morrell, some students getting heated as they did so.

Morrell goes around the United States, usually to post-secondary schools, to preach.

“This guy goes all over the country doing this,” said KD Chief of Police Martin Pessink.  “You can go to his website, you can Google his name, you can find pictures of him posted on several sites of university campuses throughout the U.S.”

Some students, including Aubrey Iski, Longview sophomore, took matters into their own hands and contradicted Morrell.

“God clearly says that God loves you but he doesn’t want you to sin,” Iski said.

Other students were not as gentle about their approach, kicking over Morrell’s sign and even one case of a student who made an obscene gesture at Morrell.

“We believe that all have sinned. The Bible makes it clear that sin is transgression of God’s law. If you take a look at the Ten Commandments you can really easily see what sin is,”  said Chris, an Open Air Outreach preacher who refused to give his last name. “So we see the signs of our world and we believe that most of the world has committed sin. The only hope for a sinner is to be born again.”

Jonathen Ruesch / THE FLARE || Aubrey Iski; Longview sophomore; Allyson Clark; Kilgore sophomore; and Sharon Brown; Hallsville sophomore; launched a counter-devotional about how God loves everyone during Jesse Morrell’s devotional.

Some of the things that the street preachers were opposed to, according to a sign that Morrell was carrying, are fornicators, drunkards, sodomites, pot smokers, gangster rappers, immodest women, Darwinists, gamblers, feminists, socialists, abortionists, pornographers, homosexuals, Jihadists, dirty dancers and hypocrites.

A sign held by Open Air Outreach preacher Chris LePelley listed Muslims, thieves, liars, druggies, adulterers, unbelievers, church gossipers, atheists and whoremongers as others going to hell.

Some students went to Pessink, asking if Morrell were allowed to be on KC campus in the first place.

“He knows exactly what he can say because he’s been to jail before. He knows exactly how far he can come up on the property. This is a First Amendment freedom of religion issue,” Pessink said.

Students asked why Morrell’s message was so harsh and hateful, and Morrell said he gave them the harsh message because he loved them.

With the uproar, some students asked how to keep Morrell off campus.

“They can draw a crowd. One or two people may believe what they are buying and support what they are doing from here. But this guy will make rounds and do this stuff,” Pessink said. “He agitates crowds, whips them up and then he will disappear. If they would go away he (Morrell) would quit  coming.”

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