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Students protest religious demonstration

Serveral members of the Bible Believers Street Preachers organization came to the Tempe campus Friday afternoon wielding signs and wearing t-shirts in protest of the Muslim religion and homosexuality. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo)
Serveral members of the Bible Believers Street Preachers organization came to the Tempe campus Friday afternoon wielding signs and wearing t-shirts in protest of the Muslim religion and homosexuality. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo)

Sustainability junior Tommy Verderame and Jeremy Santos, a U.S. missionary for the Bible Believers organization, get into an argument about homosexuality and sin during a religious demonstration Friday afternoon on the Tempe campus. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo) Sustainability junior Tommy Verderame and Jeremy Santos, a U.S. missionary from the Bible Believers organization, argue about homosexuality and sin during a religious demonstration Friday afternoon on the Tempe campus. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo)

A group of preachers stood outside Hayden Library on Friday holding signs that read things such as, “Muhammad is a … liar, false prophet, murderer, child molester (and) pervert,” while many students surrounded them.

Some students yelled and others tried to discuss Biblical scripture with the protesters, while a group of Muslim students prayed next to Cady Fountain.

The group, known as the “Bible Believers,” arrived on campus at 1 p.m. and stayed for almost four hours. Passers-by said they saw them stomping on the Quran. Soon after they arrived, almost 50 students, many of which were Muslims, approached them.

The leader of the organization, Ben Israel, said he and other members had gathered at the Tempe campus, because ASU had a problem with religion and sex.

“We wanted to clarify everything, that God does not like the sin of homosexuality and that if you’re a Muslim, that it’s not a religion of peace,” he said. “It’s really hard to be nice people when their religion is violent.”

ASU Police officers stood close by in case they were needed.

A woman was arrested after throwing her coffee at the preachers, Israel said.

“We’re going to provoke God, just as this campus provokes God,” he said.

A religious studies junior at UA who asked to be called “Brother Dean” said he came to ASU to win souls for Christ and make religion an issue on campus.

Dean, who has been part of the “Bible Believers” for a year, engaged many students and repeatedly told them they would go to hell if they did not become Christians.

“The response we’ve had is great,” he said. “We hope to get people talking about truth and get people talking about God.”

Courtney Salamon, who attends the University of Phoenix and works at the Wells Fargo on the Tempe campus, approached Dean as he told a group of students that the way to have a successful marriage was to be a “real man.”

When Salamon protested, Dean told her she was a feminist and she said she considered it to be a compliment.

“I am a humanist, you know?” she said. “I think everybody should have rights.”

Salamon said the preachers probably enjoyed the attention that students had given them Friday. She said she was surprised to see how people reacted, because normally students try to ignore preachers.

“(All the preachers) look very different,” she said. “I would help them at the bank and would never know that they feel. … I should be a servant to my husband.”

Microbiology senior Ameer Thamer talked to the preachers for almost two hours. He said he likes to discuss religion with them, because he feels the information they have has not been fully developed.

“They think that Islam is a faith about killing and murdering other people,” he said. “(Dean) saw one Arabic girl, and she was wearing her Hijab, and he pointed her out and said, ‘She’s Muslim, and she’s going to hell.’”

Thamer said his religion teaches him to love and respect everybody, but it is difficult not to engage people who are so hateful.

It’s not possible to have a rational conversation with the preachers, because they are not willing to listen to the other side, Thamer said.

“We are a diverse campus,” he said. “We are all divided. We are Hispanic. We are black. We are white. We are brown. We are from different religions and different backgrounds. We should respect that.”

 

Reach the reporter at dpbaltaz@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @dpalomabp

 


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