By Jim Wilson.
Greetings. It is the return of Brother Jed Smock, the colorful college minister, an inadvertent promoter of Atheism. Jed is back in town and will be preaching on the University of Arizona campus from February 11th through the 22nd . His over-the-top, cartoonish style will surely capture a sizable crowd.
Jed Smock’s Campus Ministries consist of colorful open air preaching that usually does not change much from year to year. He typically includes tales of his adventures in the American counter-culture of the sixties complete with wild stories of sex and drugs and then his conversion to a self-loathing sexually hung-up Christian. His style is highly confrontational and he is known to say things like, “I don’t know how the whorehouses in this town stay open — all of you sorority girls are giving it away for free!” or “A masturbator today is a homosexual tomorrow.” He will freely call the people he speaks to “homos,” “fags,” “sodomites,” “drunks,” or “fornicators.”
He spends plenty of time demonizing liberals, homosexuals, fans of rock music, those who engage in premarital sex, feminists, and those who reject traditional gender roles–all of which are apparently destined for hell. The usually young college students frequently mock him and some of his act is self-parody. For example, during one Sex Ed with Brother Jed segment he warned the males in his audience that after they get married and finally engage in sex for the first time, to be careful not to mistake their wives anus for her vagina. One student responded with “what if I do and she likes it?” On another occasion, he stated “you seem to have a fixation with my anus” after being called an “a##hole.”
Brother Jed is the best recruiter for the local freethinking community. If he is the poster child for Christianity the Atheist community looks better in comparison. His presentation does everything to highlight the ridiculous, superstitious, bigoted, hateful, and reactionary baggage that other Christians sweep under the carpet. He makes Christianity the object of ridicule it deserves to be and does so in a way that is wonderfully over the top. He is often accused of being a parody and many of us have to question the intelligence of the church members who finance his travels around the country.
His visits often mark the year’s highest recruitment times for local Atheist and Skeptics groups. Many milk the opportunity by hosting Brother Jed Bingo. In these games, listeners are given bingo cards with words on it that regularly appear in his narrative and those who fill their cards out first win a prize. My copy from last year features such phrases as “Penis,” “Squirt-squirt,” “Whiskey,” “Sexual Frenzy,” “Freaks,” “Get Laid,” and “Oral Sex.” Ironically, he thinks it’s the young people he talks to who are supposedly obsessed with sex.
There is a dark side in all this. He drags his teenage daughters around the country with him. They are as brainwashed as he is. These virginal girls make sex-negative presentations as part of his ministry and open themselves up to rude questioning from the audience that no-one should have to endure. I remember listeners asking one of his daughters if she had ever masturbated or experienced an orgasm. As would be expected of someone raised in a sex-negative environment the answer was no. Needless to say, it saddens me to see people that young subjected to the ridicule their father brings on himself and it saddens me more to see this man instilling these girls with his repulsive beliefs and attitudes. The idea that young people filled with hormones should be told to feel dirty, sinful, or ashamed every time they experience perfectly normal sexual feelings is repulsive. Frightening children with threats of hell, damnation and eternal torture is very much a form of psychological abuse.
Brother Jed’s theology is highly idiosyncratic and much of it is rejected by many self-identified Christians. His God, for example, is not the all-powerful or all-knowing one most Christians worship but one that is largely reacting to human’s free will actions he apparently has little or no control over. Jed’s idea of a God who is lacking in these areas and presumably not completely competent actually makes much more sense than the God most Christians worship. He also has stated numerous times that he no longer sins at all, a notion that most Christians consider impossible.
Brother Jed is definitely a trip and it is refreshing if not disturbing to see a Christian so out and open about all the horrible things that many of them actually believe. He is the author of the book Who Will Rise Up: A Call to Confrontational Evangelism and is the basis for the short film Battle of the Sects. Here in Arizona he has many unconvinced followers called Jed Heads, and I consider myself one of them.
Click HERE to see him in action at the University in 2008.