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SIU students swarm far right preacher on campus
November 28, 2022
Editor’s Note: This article has been revised to better reflect the event that occurred outside Faner Hall on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022 and the reactions from students who were there.
On Monday evening, a woman’s shout could be heard clearly all the way on the east side of Faner Hall, drawing onlookers from all over campus to the forefront of the most visceral protest the campus had seen in months.
Drawing nearer to the northern end of the Student Center, jeers and combative shouting could be heard, rasping from raw throats in a distorted call-and-response. A circle of students formed around a gaunt older man wearing two signs as a vest, one on front, one one his back. Plastered across the face of his sign were slogans accusing homosexuals of being child molestors, calling students “pot smoking little devils” and condemning lewd women, among many other things.
His voice, which was barely audible over the commotion of the crowd, was strained after hours of constant yelling.
“These pedophiles are among you. Every sodomite, every sodomite is at least a potential pedophile,” Brother Matt shouted.
His sign was mostly obscured by rainbow flags and LGBTQ+ positive signs that students crowded around him waved in front of his face and between him and the crowd.
“Wicked and evil. This is the normal operating, the standard operating procedure for SIU students. You’re ugly inside and outside,” he said.
Brother Matt yelled that students needed to ensure the safety of their souls before the return of Jesus Christ and the final days of the world.
“This is the most argumentative it’s been, the most crowd-jeering it’s been, for a while,” said Cordell Alsbury, a student at SIU. “I’m surprised that this isn’t a noise complaint, especially right here in Faner with classes going on.”
Alsbury expressed concern that the students’ reaction may impact the atmosphere for free speech on campus.
“I think students who are religious and conservative probably find this a little intimidating,” Alsbury said. “…There’s no way you could talk to him if you were a conservative student.”
With each new proclamation about homosexuals, sex addicts, or impending doom, the crowd yelled over Brother Matt, attempting to drown him out. Several students walked directly up to him and screamed that they hated him. At some points students chanted the words “women” and “gay,” but some students resorted to screaming incoherently to prevent him from being heard.
Throughout their protest of Brother Matt, many students shouted at him to shut up and go home, as well as beg the police to remove him from campus.
One student told Brother Matt, “I love Jesus, I just don’t love you.”
“This is like the most students I’ve seen come out for an on-campus event all semester,” said Alsbury as a chorus of rollercoaster screams filled the air.
Brother Matt visited SIU campus last year in October espousing similar hate speech, blaming homosexual students for campus safety issues and accusing female students of being ungodly lesbians. Last year, he told the Daily Egyptian he was from a church in Mississippi called Bible Holiness.
Regardless of the protesters’ behavior, Jasiah Draper, a black student at SIU, says Brother Matt was not civilized last year by any stretch of the word, “I went up in front of everybody. ‘Oh yo guys, like, don’t give him that attention.’ Dude told me – him – he told me to kill myself.”
Students at SIU are held to a student code, and can be disciplined or even expelled if they don’t live up to the school’s standards of decency. If a student protester were to say the things that Bother Matt said, there would be consequences enforceable by the school. Many of the students were unaware of any process by which they could report campus visitors to campus police for violations of the school’s carefully curated atmosphere of safety.
Some students twerked in front of Brother Matt, others tossed inflated condoms around the crowd. Many students posed for photographs with him while holding pride flags and handmade signs.
“I know he’s preaching what he thinks is true,” said an anonymous LGBTQ protester, “we’re doing what we think is true. I think it just reflects that it’s kind of emotional right now, and we’re a little bit angrier than we need to be.”
Despite the extremity of this particular campus protest, some students did foresee consequences to the event.
Draper believed that Brother Matt was obstructing the flow of work on campus and antagonizing students by telling them they were going to hell, but did concede that students at the event were also approaching the same line, some students making comments about his sexuality and sex life.
“I draw the line at telling people they’re going to hell for doing x, y and z,” said Draper. “Then again, I guess you could say that the way people are treating him is bad. It’s a weird line.”
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