Editor's note: This letter is a response to an article written by Managing Editor Hannah Pollock titled "Religious demonstrators tell students to 'confess their sins,'" which was published online at theslateonline.com Oct. 24 and in print Oct. 29.
As a 2013 graduate of Shippensburg University, I also read your story headlined, “Religious demonstrators’ tell students to ‘confess their sins.”
Contrary to my fellow alumnus in his Letter to the Editor from 11/19/2019, I did not find the initial article to contain rampant anti-Christian bias riddled with hypocritical assertions. Instead, I saw clear and accurate coverage of what occurred on campus that day.
There is nothing derogatory about calling these particular Christian Evangelists “protestors” or “demonstrators”. The fact that labeling them as such is liable to cause offense is no reason to refrain from it, especially when that very label is an accurate representation of what they do. As anyone who has engaged with these very individuals will tell you, we know what their purpose is: they want to proselytize those who do not espouse their own Biblical worldview. They are, in essence, “protesting” the secular environment and teachings of the University.
What is derogatory, however, is referring to the University administrators as “two faced” and the university as some sort of liberal echo chamber without providing any evidence to the claim. Are there individuals at Shippensburg University with liberal beliefs? Yes. It does not follow, however, that the University stifles or ridicules the beliefs of those with opposing viewpoints. That accusation is empirically false.
I can speak from personal experience when I say that these protestors are people who will gladly shout at you, over you, and make defamatory remarks on one’s personal character, as they did to me a decade ago. They insinuate that anyone that doesn’t agree with them are inherently bad people and that what we learn regarding the Theory of Evolution in biology class is false. This type of rhetoric is dangerous and only seeks to further enhance post-truth ideology.
While I believe these protestors have every right to express their beliefs on public property, there are more appropriate ways to civically engage with those with whom we may disagree. Shouting at individuals in order to perform a polemical tirade is not one of them.
-T.J. Thomas, Master of Public Administration Candidate