If You Give UAB a Bible Thumper…

By on January 16, 2014
Gerrie Lim

When they said college was going to be a whole new world, they weren’t kidding.

Even if I was born in armpit of America, or more commonly known as New Jersey, I was raised in the wonderful Bible Belt of the South. I knew what a Bible thumper was and that they originated from the South. For those of you who don’t know what a Bible thumper is, it is “one who uses the Bible to attack or defame others of as a guide to proper living”. The name comes about because they literally thump their Bibles as they preach, supposedly. I’d never seen one in action before.

That is, until last week.

He stood at the heavy-trafficked crosswalk between the Humanities Building and the Sterne Library, spouting sermons I can’t repeat in writing in this newspaper. But some of my favorites that I CAN write included a condemnation of “gangster-rap music”, an explanation that STD stood for “sexually transmitted damnation,” and the invite list to Hell, which included 90% of UAB.

It was so filled with hostility, I questioned the credibility of the right of free speech. I realized my racist jokes had nothing on this level of ignorance. I honestly thought the Bible thumper was actually like some comedy-improviser and then sadly realized unfortunately not all people are into satirical comedy. A cop stood nearby, on the watch for confrontations, though he himself like he wanted to knock the guy out. The cop said this thumper was apparently a scam, shouting religious bigotry in attempts to enrage someone to the point of assault and thus, a following lawsuit. Cute.

I don’t want to talk about the viewpoints this man expressed, mainly because I myself lack the religious credentials to do so, but rather, I want to talk about how UAB students responded to it, which restored my faith in humanity. While it was relatively unproductive to try to debate with this unmoving testament to blind religious ignorance, there was just something about proudly and loudly reaffirming your beliefs that attracted a large group of people together. We could have just left him alone to holler his antagonism from the street corner, instead continuing to wherever we had class next. We could have dispersed as a crowd to avoid giving him the time of day, like one student suggested. But the human mind is strange, and the urge to join a non-physical confrontation not on the internet was too good to pass up. Students of all faiths, races and other diversities gathered around this man, but all of them stood together against him and the abhorrent judgement he preached.

When he preached the perks of homophobia—yes, you read that right, the PERKS OF HOMOPHOBIA— a girl in the audience proclaimed she was “a raging homosexual.”  The crowd of students went wild with applause and laughter. When the thumper preached hatred of other faiths, including Catholicism (which he didn’t believe was a part of Christianity) and Islam, a Muslim quoted the Koran and a Christian defended her Catholic boyfriend. Students mocked or some even took selfies with him. Every time a student took a stand against whatever this guy had to say, that student was met with the reinforcing cheers of his or her peers. The point is it was nice, for lack of a more complicated word, to see such diversity in the human spectrum unite. This white adult male failed in spreading his message of animosity.

Older generations try to shame ours, which I believe is labeled the Millennials, for being too deep into technology or consumed in narcissism or trying to break all traditions or wanting to shatter the quota. What the adults forget is it’s their messes we have to clean up one day. What the adults forget is they say we can’t make proper, mature decisions as teenagers. So why does my future rely on the decisions I make when I’m a teen?  What the adults forget is they were the ones who raised us Millennials.

Thank God, Buddha or your deity of choice that character is not just a summation of the experiences we have in life, the hand we are dealt, but also how we react to those experiences, what we do with what we have. And if a group of young people like us can stand together against this testament to old, deep-rooted hatred, then I think we, as a generation, are doing okay.

For more on this topic, including a phone interview with the preacher, checkout: http://studentmedia.uab.edu/2009/11/street-preacher-condemns-students-2/

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About Gerrie Lim

Like roughly 75% of UAB's student population, Gerrie Lim was once a Biology major on the pre-med track. However, she realized she was not about that "spend the next 100 years in med school, assuming you get in" kind of life and is now the Bradgelina of all the degrees. She is pursuing a degree in Communications Broadcasting while on the pre-Physician's Assistant track, while bumping her Biology major down to a minor and adopting a Theater minor. Gerrie Lim has spent two years at the glorious institution that is UAB. She is a writer (complainer), photographer (shows-up-to-events-and-takes-pictures-if-not-their-food), and cartoonist (scribbler) for the Kaleidoscope. She can be found in front of her tiny Samsung TV on Saturday nights. You can find her on Instagram as @chopstickgirl and Twitter as @Team_Gerrie. Most importantly though, you can find her on YouTube every Wednesday on her channel, TeamGerrie.
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