Demonstrators say they were offering a message of love

This story was originally published in The Sylva Herald.

Photo by Ashley Kairis. Three religious demonstrators stationed themselves in front of WCU’s Alumni Tower Oct. 5.

On Oct. 5, three religious demonstrators bearing signs were stationed in front of Western Carolina University’s Alumni Tower, proclaiming, “live holy and be perfect” and “fear God.”

The signs condemned “all liars, drunkards, thieves, fornicators, filthy-minded, hateful and unrighteous” people. Permit-holder Buddy Fisher, who said he lives somewhere in Western North Carolina, described the demonstration as an opportunity to “preach the gospel to as many people as we could reach in one day.”

WCU students gathered around the demonstrators, some protesting their presence.

Observers said the demonstrators had GoPro cameras attached to their picket signs.

One WCU student protested by dressing in a nun costume, high heels and eating a Bible.

Max Ringenbach, WCU sophomore and president of the campus’ Sexuality and Gender Alliance organization, said he knows the individual.

“I personally feel that he went too far with the eating the Bible part,” he said. “His message, in my personal opinion, was to upset the protesters, not the students and faculty here.”

Ringenbach said the Alliance does not condone the behavior.

“We are accepting of everyone and do not wish for the WCU community to feel as though we do not agree with Christianity,” he said.

Ringenbach said he was walking to class when the demonstration first started.

“The demonstrators were not getting any kind of message across,” he said. “I have seen them multiple times at different Pride events around North Carolina. This is what they do.”

Fisher said the demonstrators attend sporting events, street festivals and stage events at other college campuses.

The goal is not to quantify how many people were saved, but to reach as many people as possible and have one-on-one conversations with them, according to Fisher.

“All we can do is preach the goodness and the severity of God and people will either accept it or reject it,” he said. “As long as we preached the gospel and proclaimed truth, we’ve accomplished our goal. People can do with that whatever they want.”

Fisher said they don’t demonstrate because they’re angry – they do it out of love.

“We’re not lunatics or hatemongers. We want to help Christians be stronger in their faith,” he said. “It’s loving to warn them – like you would warn someone about a possible cancer.”