OPINION: How to handle loud campus preachers

Patric Peters


Recently, a street preacher graced WKU with his shouting and sign-waving. Men like him occasionally visit campus, usually attracting large crowds.

Sadly, many people’s only experience with Christianity is with the likes of such preachers. They only confirm the misunderstandings of non-Christians. Many likely leave such encounters with contempt of religion.

I write this, then, to reveal their errors and offer suggestions on how to approach future situations.

Jesus engaged people in a loving manner.

One could say that these preachers’ approach is not only a failure at spreading the gospel, but also a failure at representing Christianity in general. The famous saying “Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words,” typifies those who seek to spread the gospel through humble example. “You will know them by their fruits,” Jesus declared. One who accurately represents the gospel is one who actually lives it.

One preacher, Kerrigan Skelly, has even claimed that his right to judge stems from the fact that he never sins. However, the Bible indicates that we are able to fail daily (1 John. 1:8).

Sometimes students approach these preachers by questioning their qualifications. Why should someone listen to someone like Skelly, after all? When one student asked him if was ordained, he replied “yes—by God.” Skelly meant that Christians are called to spread the gospel, which is true. But he missed the student’s point. Having proper teaching authority is a separate issue from evangelization.

As far as I can tell, the only justification for Skelly’s teaching authority is his perceived call from God and his religion degree from Louisiana College.

Considering these preachers’ qualifications is important if we are to evaluate their ability to represent authentic Christianity. But the only connection they have to apostolic authority is the Bible they hold in their hands. But anyone can pick up a bible and “twist it to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

Street preachers like Skelly feed off of rowdy, angry audiences. They won’t tolerate a sensible conversation. One thing you can do, then, is simply ignore them. If you are entertained by the ruckus and want to stay, fine, but remember you are likely giving them fuel.

If you are Christian and are concerned about the scandalous representation of your faith, don’t preoccupy yourself with the preachers. Instead, consider talking to those around you. A simple statement like “wow, this guy is totally off” can go a long way.

If these preachers say something that is flat-out wrong, and you know how to defend yourself, feel free to confront them—at least for the sake of crowd. But be the bigger person. If you are Christian, give a good example!