Picture this: It’s noon on Sept. 29, a beautiful fall day with the perfect amount of crisp air and sunlight. While walking from Bentley Hall to Baker University Center, your peaceful stroll is interrupted. On the corner in front of E.W. Scripps Hall is the infamous “Jesus Guy” preaching to literally no one and his apparent colleague sitting on the grass behind him.
By 12:30 p.m., a small crowd has formed, just a few people standing by listening. As Taylor Swift once said, you’ve seen this film before: someone will start arguing with the man in no time.
Like clockwork, by 2:45 p.m. there is a swarm of people both waving and wearing various LGBTQIA+ flags. A subgroup of individuals going face-to-face with Jesus Guy have formed a half circle around him, each taking turns firing off their opposition to what he’s saying.
This is a phenomenon that Ohio University students are very familiar with, whether they’re the ones protesting against Jesus Guy, seeing memes about him on social media or they’ve merely walked by one of his sermons, he is not a stranger to this campus. They may also be familiar with Brother Jed—the husband of the Sister Cindy—who started making evangelist appearances in the ‘70s. Whenever Jesus Guy makes an appearance, word spreads quickly and people rally accordingly. While there are plenty of things about his speeches to laugh at, it’s worth taking a moment to simply tear them apart.
I have to clarify that the name “Jesus Guy” is purely my own nickname for the man. Hailing from Columbus, his actual name is Jerry Mawhorr and he has been making appearances at college campuses across Ohio for at least seven years, according to a Sept. 2015 report from the Athens News. He and his friend John Lengacher, at least at the time, spent three days a week visiting Ohio colleges to spread the word of God, the report said.
If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered why Mawhorr keeps coming back to OU when he is met with anger and protest every time. It’s almost as if he enjoys listening to himself talk and arguing with people! As it turns out, that isn’t too far off from the truth. The Sept. 2015 Athens News report says Mawhorr exhibited “almost joyful acceptance of student anger—and on occasion apparently deliberate efforts to provoke it,” because of his opinion that it is a privilege and honor to serve God by spreading his word.
Not to use an arguably too obvious play on words, but I will be playing Devil’s Advocate here. Point blank, I see little to no point in these visits. The only thing they actually accomplish is providing an outlet for people to expel their anger. With the understanding that my perspective is limited, I have yet to hear a story about Mawhorr’s spiels actually converting someone to their faith.
What I have heard is blatant disrespect and bigotry towards the people that Mawhorr and co. are trying to sway. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? I’d also argue that it’s further proof that they enjoy pissing people off. Today alone, I have not only heard of students being told homophobic, antisemetic and even anti-Christian remarks passed off as things God would stand for. From my understanding, there is an emphasis on loving and being kind to one another in the Bible. Additionally, presenting people with new ideas that you want them to be receptive to has never gone well when it’s done aggressively. Unless I’ve been looking at an inaccurate thesaurus, I don’t think that “kind” and “aggressive” are synonymous.
The bottom line is that nothing but wasted energy comes out of preaching to college students that they need to subscribe to your exact religious beliefs or they’re going to Hell. Assuming that every person does and should believe in a particular religion is ignorant and just further makes people want to resist what you’re preaching. “Love your neighbor,” except for when you don’t want to, right?
Tate Raub is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Tate know by tweeting her @tatertot1310.