By Char Freedberg
Members of the Key of David Christian Center from Philadelphia were met with opposition when they came to demonstrate on McKeldin Mall on Tuesday, as students at this university quickly gathered in a show of defiance against bigotry and homophobia on this campus.
The Christian Center came to this university and taunted students, warning them that “walking in the ways of Jesus Christ was the only path to prevent them from eternal damnation.”
Students responded negatively to posters that said “Jesus or Hellfire,” “Stop Acting Like Children,” “Feminists Support Pedophilia” and “Cover Up Girls.”
This last sign in particular garnered a strong response from students. Some girls even took off their shirts in defiance of the “Cover Up” sign.
Students then started making signs of their own to protest the Key of David demonstrators and bringing them to McKeldin, including “Jesus Does Not Hate! Jesus Loves!” and “Don’t Be A F**king Asshole,” a quote which was attributed to Jesus.
“I think what they’re doing here is disgusting,” said Ben Cubert, a senior kinesiology major who attended the protest, referring to Key of David. “Everyone coming out today and showing their solidarity is great. This is what UMD is all about.”
Nadia, another student who participated in the protest, echoed the views that Cubert had. “We don’t want to hear this type of bigotry and prejudice on our campus,” she said. Nadia declined to share her last name with Mitzpeh due to privacy concerns.
Some students did not want to get involved at first, like freshman government and politics major Cole Alderman. “I just left the dining hall. I had a friend of mine that texted me that there was this big protest at the Mall,” he said.
When Alderman heard what the Christian Center had to say about other races, including calling them derogatory names and insulting them to the point where some audience members cried, he decided to join the protests.
“They were literally pinpointing people out in the audience, calling people these awful names, saying we were all going to Hell,” he said.
Neha Shijo, a freshman computer science major, is Christian, but does not believe in the views that this Christian Center presents. “As a Catholic Christian, it’s really frustrating to see my views and religion being warped and turned into something it’s not,” she said.
Shijo believes in loving and caring for one another and was disappointed in the way that the Christian Center was “using this religion as a way to spread hatred and ignorance and bigotry.”
This is not the first time the Key of David Christian Center has sparked this sort of controversy on a college campus. In April, Aden Rusfeldt was met with the same sorts of protests at Towson University that he encountered at this university today.
“Pastor Aden,” as he calls himself, is part of a group of “loving Christians,” according to an email to the Baltimore Sun. But this does not mean he loves everyone, like many believe his faith teaches.
According to the Christian Center’s website, people targeted for Hell include Muslims, the Catholic Church, all cults and TV preachers.
“I hope people know that this is not what we stand for,” said Shijo.
Nadia added that the signs students made showed that they do not let people like those from the Christian Center bring their attitudes down.
“I believe that we all deserve our right to be. I’m gay, he’s gay, there’s another person who’s black. It doesn’t matter. […] To have people just come onto our campus, our home, and to tell us that we’re going to Hell and that what we’re doing is wrong is just ridiculous,” she said.