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Street preachers condemn the sins of curious crowd

September 21, 2006

Two street preachers made their presence known last Wednesday as they stood in front of the Student Center advocating their religious beliefs, compelling students to listen and refute those statements.

“If you listen to rock and roll, you will lose your soul,” preacher Michael Leisner shouted to the crowd of students gathered around the ash tree in the Student Center lawn.

Many students witnessed the scene made by the street preachers. Some stopped, listened and scoffed at Leisner and George “Brother Jed” Smock, while others took a more offensive standpoint.

“I think he’s very weird. He’s very hypocritical,” senior Ben Crawmer said about Leisner. “He’s telling us not to do things he’s done.”

Street preacher
Michael Leisner, above, along with George “Brother Jed” Smock, preached to students on the UWRF campus last Wednesday. Looking on is senior Matt Svendsen, center. (Photo by Helen Clarke, Student Voice)

Crawmer said Leisner informed the audience that the reason women are short is so they can be closer to the sink. He said men should be the providers and women should be the housewives.

Leisner preached to students on several religious subjects, including pre-marital sex. After asking the gathered crowd a sequence of questions, Leisner made a broad statement about those who attend UW-River Falls.

“Let the record show there are numerous fornicators on this campus,” Leisner said as he was ridiculed.

Some statements made by the street preachers were antagonizing and intended to cause student reaction like what was seen Wednesday afternoon.

“We expect them to be angry with all the things going on in the world,” Leisner said. “We don’t expect them to call us intolerant.”

Leisner and Smock also had some choice words about sexual orientation to share with passersby.

“God will take you by the testicles and throw you into the rectum of hell,” Leisner screamed, commenting on homosexual lifestyles.

Some students took what Leisner and Brother Jed preached with a grain of salt, while others were offended by what they had to say.

“He’s misrepresenting Christians,” sophomore Richard Franta said.

Other students understand what their mission is trying to accomplish, but say the preachers are going about it the wrong way.

“He’s coming off really wrong. He’s stirring up anger and hatred,” junior Natalie Hanken said about Brother Jed.

Some students were released from a diversity class to go listen to the street preachers.

“We’re learning about the real world,” senior Jeff Olson said.

Olson said that according to what the street preachers were saying, he should “go for the girls that smoke because they like to put a lot of things in their mouth.”

Leisner occasionally joins Brother Jed on his journey across the country, visiting campuses and preaching to students.

Leisner’s full-time job is in real estate, but he said he makes space in his schedule a few times every year to improve his street preaching skills, admitting he is not very good yet.

“We’ve gone from campus to campus preaching against sin,” Leisner said, looking on as Smock took his turn speaking to the crowd.

“This is his full-time job,” Leisner said, pointing at Brother Jed. “He used to be a professor and then he got saved.”

Leisner said Smock has visited more than 700 campuses in his 21 years of street preaching. The mission of the campus visits is threefold.

“Our number one purpose is to uphold God in the midst of his enemies,” Leisner said. “Our second focus is to inspire, stimulate and encourage lackadaisical Christians.”

The third goal is to get students to be right with God.

“Some will get saved,” Leisner said. “If we get two out of three missions accomplished, we’ll be happy.”