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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Murray State students rally against religious demonstrator

Emma Fisher
Murray State student confronting the demonstrator, who claims to be a member of Consuming Fires Ministries.
Murray State students listen to the demonstrator.

The campus community united to drown out hateful speech being hurled in the University’s Free Speech Zone this past Thursday. 

The demonstrator, who claimed to be associated with Consuming Fire Ministries, carried a sign that had a Bible verse on one side and the other side listed sins. Students gathered on the sidewalk outside the Free Speech Zone when the speaker began to yell out hateful jabs. At times, students played music and sang to drown out the man’s bitter words. Murray State Police asked the crowd to move off the sidewalk and into the grassy area by the Free Speech Zone. 

According to their website, Consuming Fire Ministries believes in the power of God to transform lives.

Students like Seth Gillespie, sophomore history major, were hurt by the demonstrator’s remarks.

As a Christian, Gillespie said he doesn’t want anyone to get a negative impression of the church. 

“This guy is spreading a lot of hate, but it should be all about spreading love, even if you don’t practice, just like spreading love to everybody is what’s important,” Gillespie said. 

Ben Thomas,  senior religious studies major, said the demonstrator was trying to provoke students. 

“A demonstrator of Christian faith is trying to proclaim all the sins that the campus has committed and trying to educate the masses of the university to how to fix their sins, but the way they go about it is pretty much just being directly verbally offensive to the people who he is talking about,” Thomas said. “He knows he can get those emotions riled up.”

Isabella Shevetz, freshman public relations major, said while the demonstrator is creating a community of opposition against himself, she noticed how supportive Murray State students are. 

“Lots of people have been spreading trigger warnings on Yik Yak like ‘if you’re sensitive to slurs avoid this area,” Shevetz said. “My RA sent out a text last night and said they heard word somebody was going to be here and he has a reputation for saying really hateful things.”

Shevetz said she’s encouraged by the outpouring support on campus for students impacted by this event. 

“It’s almost inspiring and contradictory to his message to see all of these people uniting. If you were a person who was affected by his words, in any type of way, there’s this whole community support system out here that has come from it,” Shevetz said. “While nobody wants something like this happening on campus, it’s good to know there is a support system.”

University police were present during Thursday’s event. 

The Murray State Police Department monitors the Free Speech Zone and tries to maintain a visible presence to make sure that the event does not escalate, as well as for the safety of our campus,” Police Chief Ryan Orr said. 

Thomas said these religious demonstrators are experienced and know how to push students limits. 

“They are trained and experienced to take this negativity from students but understand that kindness is what we need to spread,” Thomas said. “Don’t take anything that is going to directly hurt you because he came here with the intention to hurt people and know that we’re making an impact.”

Students can visit, to view the Free Speech Zone schedule and policy for non-University groups and individuals. 

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About the Contributors
Jill Smith
Jill Smith, Co-Editor In Chief/News Editor
Jillian Smith is Co-EIC and News Editor at The News. Smith is a graduate student pursuing a Masters of Science in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. Smith is also a Graduate Assistant in Student Affairs. Beyond working and class, Smith enjoys reading, coffee, and listening to music.
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photography Editor
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini began photographing for The News in fall 2022 and began Photo Editor in 2023. She loves to photograph all things sports, but especially baseball. A journalism major, she minors in Spanish and Photography.
Emma FIsher, Photographer
Samantha VanHorn, Photographer

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