‘Love is love:’ Students band together in opposition to hate speech from religious protester


El Guo

Students surround an evangelist preaching in the Memorial Union quad on May 15.

Katie Livermore and Sukhjot Sal, News Reporters

In a mass of handmade signs with phrases such as “love is love” students gathered in the Memorial Union quad surrounding Daniel Lee, a traveling Evangelist with a sign that—in its largest, capitalized font—read “hell awaits.”

On May 15 at 1 p.m. approximately 50 students surrounded Lee who said he visited the Oregon State University campus “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ,” which is his career. 

Lee said he spends his time traveling to various universities and runs a YouTube channel which is not monetized but often generates its own donations. Strapped to his chest was a GoPro camera that filmed the students in front of him.

“If you’re a sinner, if you’re doing things like on this banner you’re willing to forsake all your sin by placing your faith in Jesus, in Jesus he’ll give you a new heart, you’ll stop living sinfully, you’ll start living holy,” Lee said. 

Elizabeth Lopez-Carrera (she/her) holds up a sign to protest against an evangelist on the Memorial Union Quad on May 15. A large crowd of students showed up to protest against the messages the preacher was sharing. (El Guo)

To describe the gospel of Jesus Christ in Lee’s terms, he read aloud from the poster he held among the students. The poster read, all capitalized, “Warning to all” and underneath, a list of groups including: “fornicators, adulterers, sodomites, lesbians, Muslims, masturbators, sabbath breakers, porno freaks, drunkards, idolaters, hypocrites, atheists, pot-heads, baby murderers, thieves, gossips, liars, homosexuals.”

Students who protested against Lee were seen holding Pride flags, handing out Pride pins and stickers, and playing songs like “Pynk” by Janelle Monae — a song that is famously about masturbation. 

Lee said he was at Oregon State University alone, though there was another religious protest happening in front of the Valley Library. 

Gathered behind Lee were about five to 10 members of Antioch House, a Christian fraternity located on Northwest 23rd Street, that arrived to display another aspect of the Bible.

Josiah Biddlecome, a senior environmental sciences student, was sitting in the grass writing verses from the Bible on a cardboard sign. 

He said some members of Antioch saw Lee protesting and wanted to show up with their own signs to share the true Christian gospel. Biddlecome did not say that Antioch House was countering or supporting Lee’s demonstration, but rather that they wanted to share their interpretation of the Bible.

They joined the crowd in the quad “to show what the gospel really is, because he is showing something that is a side of what the Bible says but it’s not showing God’s love and willingness to forgive sinners,” Biddlecome said.

Knowing what the Bible actually says about sin, forgiveness and grace is important to Antioch, he said.

Evangelist Daniel Lee holds up a large sign at the Memorial Union Quad on May 15.

“When we see someone who might be portraying Jesus and the gospel in a way that isn’t a good way to bring people to the gospel, we like to show that there’s more to it than just that,” Biddlecome explained.

Targeting college student audiences , Lee has traveled to 63 other universities since last August and will continue traveling until early June when the school year ends. 

“I lived in Oregon for 20 years of my life before I moved to Alaska and I preached at Portland State University a lot and I preached at University of Oregon in Eugene a lot, but I’ve never been here before,” Lee said.

Lee was within his rights to be on campus without a permit due to OSU being a public university rather than a private university and protections to free speech under the first amendment. 

In OSU’s Freedom of Expression statement, it states that “differences and dissenting viewpoints are not only tolerated but encouraged as part of the educational process. As a community, we recognize that from time to time, freedom of expression is a right that may raise strong emotional responses when put into practice.”

“We all kind of just gathered here,” said Carter Trinidad, Pride Center leadership liaison and fifth-year student studying women, gender and sexuality studies in regards to bringing Pride flags, signs and speakers to counter Lee’s presence. 

A large crowd of students gather to protest against an evangelist on the Memorial Union Quad on May 15. An evangelist preacher showed up multiple times during the week of May 15 to share his messages to OSU students. (El Guo)

“We’re just trying to see if folks will be active, and be able to fight back at this moment,” Trinidad said. 

According to Trinidad, the religious protester was targeting queer and transgender individuals, among other marginalized communities.

“It is pretty upsetting that we have this protester here and it of course has to be the students that get them out,” Trinidad said. 

The protest can be viewed here. 

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