Facing hatred with civility and compassion at Texas A&M
In late January 2011, the vitriolic traveling campus preacher “Brother Jed,” known for his frequent derogatory comments to and about women, BGLT persons, and religious minorities, came to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He came to spread his hate-filled distortions of faith, and to tell countless A&M students (known as “Aggies”) and others that, in his view, they were going to Hell. A coalition formed to respond with civility and compassion, and to raise funds for organizations supporting those denounced most vehemently by Brother Jed. “Donations Against Damnations” raised money for the Agnostic and Atheist Student Group (AASG), the campus Women’s Resource Center, GLBT Aggies, and Aggie Allies.
Thursday, Jan. 27, several members of the UU Church of the Brazos Valley, just a block off the A&M campus in College Station, attended the counter-demonstration. While Brother Jed shouted his condemnations, and numerous passersby responded with sarcasm or theological counter-arguments, over half a dozen UUs, including Rev. Eric Posa and several members of the church’s young adult group, stood silently with “Standing on the Side of Love” flyers. The UUs joined with progressive Christians who quietly passed out heart-shaped snack cakes, and atheists holding signs with respectful slogans like, “I’m an atheist, but religious people are cool, too.” The GLBT Aggies set up a nearby table to receive the donations, shared equally by the above-mentioned campus organizations.
At least one student came to ask, “Why are you all holding the Love signs?” It was an excellent opportunity to speak about Unitarian Universalism and our values. We made common cause with several counter-demonstrators from other groups, making and strengthening bonds with social justice allies in our community. Most importantly, when so much hate and oppression was being screamed at women and BGLT students, we gave silent witness that we UUs stand against bigotry and intolerance, and stand on the side of love.
(Pictured, from left to right: Rev. Eric Posa, Julia Buck, Melissa Collins, Katherine Lenoir, Lisa Peterson.)