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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, February 24, 2024

True Christian message distorted by protesters

Nothing in my life thus far compares with the shock and disbelief of watching famous monuments in New York and our nation's capitol in flames Tuesday morning. And nothing in my five years at UW-Madison compares with what transpired on Library Mall Friday afternoon. Thousands of students, taking the free time the university had granted, solemnly and peacefully assembled on Library Mall for a short service in memory of the devastation that occurred last Tuesday on the East Coast. 




As a Christian and a journalist, I watch these events through an unusual worldview. My faith leads me to pray and hope for all involved, from the people trapped in the rubble to those who committed this terrible act, while wondering why this has all happened and what God will do in this. My training and experience as a journalist, albeit a student one, leads me to closely and objectively observe an event and its effect on those involved. This tragedy has certainly affected this nation and each individual in it profoundly. Our parents and grandparents have lived through several wars and the public assassinations of national leaders. For most students, however, nothing has been as big, nor as tragic, and certainly not as close to home as what happened last Tuesday. 




One good thing that has come out of all this mess has been an increase in national and community unity and a heightened awareness of every person's spiritual needs. Likewise, part of the coping process for the nation has come in the way of assembly. The New York Times Web site has a set of photographs depicting Friday moments of silence and prayer vigils that took place on literally every continent, from countries as diverse as Taiwan, Kenya, India and Britain. As students we also needed that, and Friday our administration thoughtfully gave us a break from classes and planned a short service in memory of what has happened. 




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There is great potential in all this for our campus to evaluate what's important and, I pray, think about the eternal aspect of life. 




Unfortunately, many people were confronted with what is generally regarded as 'radical Christianity' when anti-abortion protesters from Missionaries for the Unborn'along with their graphic photographs and strictly condemning rhetoric'made a fourth appearance on our campus the day after all the horrific events took place. Friday during the assembly, three female demonstrators, proclaiming Jesus on campus earlier in the day, took it upon themselves to join in the otherwise peaceful Library Mall assembly. In the rudest of rude acts, one appeared in the center of the crowd holding high a large, intrusive picket sign during Professor Joe Elder's speech. Before being removed by police, she repeatedly shouted, 'You're headed for hell!' 




As a journalist I observe, as a Christian, I hurt. First watching the methods of the anti-abortion protesters and later these women causes me to wonder what the average student must think of Christians. The view of God portrayed in these moments enforces the common stereotype that he is impersonal, hateful and remote. 




God, however, is not only righteous, just and angry with our sins'though he is all those things'but he is also loving, kind and forgiving. The Bible states God knows each of us intimately, down to the number of hairs on our heads. His love is everlasting and his grace sufficient to cover every sinful act committed by every human being on Earth from the beginning of time to the end. 




The book of Luke describes Jesus, God's son, who came to Earth to find and save lost, needy people. He spoke to crowds of people who came to him seeking love, mercy, comfort and truth. Most would agree there are few things more needed in our nation and our campus than comfort and truth in this time of tragedy and decision. 




We currently live in a state of heightened fear for our safety. Right now our nation's leaders contemplate what could become a third world war. Our largest city lies in shambles. In all this, to each and every person, the words of the Bible still ring relevant. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said: 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' 




Jesus' life ended when he was executed like a common criminal after leading a perfect life, only to be raised from the dead three days later. The book of John calls him: 'The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.' 




Despite the negative images and offensive intrusions manifested on campus last week, there is truth in the Christian message. As a nation currently swimming in adversity, strong emotions and suffering, we need the comfort and peace of God to transform our hurt into something new, constructive and infinitely valuable. 




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