On March 4, 2017 there was a local protest that was organized on the campus of my Alma Mater. I heard about this protest last second, and I showed up to engage.
After the many interactions I had with a variety of people, I reported some conclusions on my Facebook page.
Someone at the protest somehow saw this, and commented on it. The comment was an accusation of my behavior and my arguments there at the protest. The comment, as I will respond to point by point, said this:
Things Collin did at a protest to come to these conclusions 1. Wander from group to group trying to start an argument for the sake of making himself feel intellectually superior 2. Ask people why we need clean air and clean water when we should pray instead? 3. Make false equivalency arguments about abortion being a more important issue than the environment. 4. Ask rape survivors to their face to justify “what if my mom was raped and I wasn’t here?” “What if your mom was raped, don’t you like being alive?” 5. Draw bizarre false equivalency arguments between abortion and babies being of greater importance than the environment. 6. Disparage other religion’s and sect’s interpretations of Jesus as being not as correct as your “Biblical Christian” interpretation. So overall, all you did was come to a peaceful protest to argue with strangers using circular reasoning. All I learned from your presence is that nobody should engage you in public or you get hostile and that I hope someone so entitled and insensitive are not representative of your church’s views.
After telling this person that I would respond later, and that I felt she mis-characterized my behavior, and referred to her as an unbeliever, she said this:
I’m a Catholic, thanks for asking. And I’ll admit that what I’m representing before your point by point response, is just the bits and pieces that I heard myself, not the entirety of the conversations that you had because I was actively avoiding you. The point is that you should be more careful with how you go about these “protesting protest” attempts because you run the risk of representing your faith and your church poorly, as you did to me and others there.
I decided to dedicate an entire blog to responding to those accusations and explaining my side of the story.
Rather than cutting to the chase, allow me to explain why I feel this is necessary.
The primary biblical model for evangelism in the public arena is a team model, not a solo model. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1), and the Apostles continued their ministry work throughout the book of Acts with companions. However, there is an interesting moment in Acts 17: 14-17 where Paul, who is waiting for his ministry partners (14-15), is so provoked by the idols of Athens that he simply cannot wait for his brothers (16).
“Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.”
The point of that spiel is that ministry is best to do in pairs; evangelism of this sort should not be rogue ministry. However, Paul’s example is that although team evangelism is best practice, solo evangelism is permissible.
There are many reasons why team evangelism is the desired method of the Apostles of which I do not have the time for in this blog to elaborate on. One important reason is however accountability.
With a team, with other brothers and sisters, my actions could be confirmed or denied on the basis of trustworthy witnesses. However, I have none of those in this case, I have only the slander of those who hate me.
When I first caught wind of the protest at Adams, I was leaving an evening church service. I had no intentions of going. I was hungry (it was about 5:40) and I wanted to watch a hockey game which began at 5. However, as I passed by my old university, I saw the crowd. I saw their idols pasted and drawn on their hand-held, custom-made signs. I saw them proclaiming their false gospels to the world, and my spirit was provoked within me; I had to make God known to them.
I am not saying I am Paul, nor was I as persuasive or brave as Paul. What I am saying is that there are rare, occasional times when idolatry moves an individual to reason with an unbelieving crowd.
What Was the Protest?
Allow me to set the stage before responding to the comments against me. The protest was held at Adams State University. There was a fundraiser at the school raising money for the Republican Party. There were state representatives from many districts in attendance. That was being protested.
The primary reason among the protesters for being there was to protest Corey Gardner, who they feel is not listening to the people he is representing. There were a variety of other issues on the signs and on people’s lips.
The cutting of the E.P.A. budget was a very important issue to this crowd.
Also, many people had signs calling congress to investigate Donald Trump’s ties with Russia, and a couple people had some signs showing support for Planned Parenthood.
There were then many reasons why I felt it my place to protest this protest:
1) I am a citizen of Colorado, and a resident of Alamosa. I care for my town and my government, and had an equal right to be there voicing an opinion.
2) I am an Adams State Alumni. I care about my school and how it is represented. Many of the people at this protest were not from Alamosa, and had no ties to the school.
3) I am a local minister of the Gospel called to tear down strongholds and any lofty arguments raised against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 9: 4-6).
4) I am a Christian who has been commanded to evangelize the nations (Matthew 28: 18-20), and to defend my faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3: 15).
What Was I Protesting?
These reasons justified my unwanted presence among the protesters. To be clear, I was not protesting the specific issues they were raising. I do not necessarily see eye to eye with those people on Corey Gardner, the E.P.A., Trump’s ties to Russia, or Planned Parenthood. However, as I will elaborate on later, I went their to undercut the unbelieving worldviews producing these ideas, and expose how they need Christ to make sense of their convictions.
In short, peaceful protests are great Gospel opportunities. You already have your icebreaker, and you are dealing with people you know have time to talk. It is amazing how quickly you can talk about the Gospel with a protester.
Allow me now to finally respond to the accusation against me from a witness at the protest. Here are all of the “Things Collin did at a protest to come to these conclusions.”
“Wander from group to group trying to start an argument…”
I am actually willing to concede this. I think the word argument is a bit misleading because in our context today it carries with it very negative connotations. However, throughout Acts 17 Paul went into synagogues, as was his custom, to reason with the Jews (Acts 17:2). And the word reason there could be translated as “argue.”
Obviously, I wanted healthy, fruitful conversation (which I had with some). My goal was not to “argue” in one sense. But I did go in knowing I would challenge these people, and I knew that disagreement was inevitable. So all things considered, I did do what I am accused of here.
“…for the sake of making himself feel intellectually superior.”
I find it fascinating that this random protester has been given revelation from God as to the motives of my heart. It never ceases to amaze me that the most judgmental people I encounter are those who claim Christians are too judgmental. At least I did not dare speak to anyone else’s motives while I was there.
I already stated my true motives above, and I do not appreciate someone making an online claim like this, for they could not possibly know or prove this to be true.
“Ask people why we need clean air and clean water when we should pray instead?”
The first part is true, but the second part is not. As a matter of fact, I am not sure the word “pray” came out of my mouth a single time during any conversation.
I am glad this person admitted this,
“And I’ll admit that what I’m representing before your point by point response, is just the bits and pieces that I heard myself, not the entirety of the conversations that you had because I was actively avoiding you.”
This person obviously did not hear me long enough to understand my argument. As a Christian, I want to have conversations worth having. And debating facts and numbers about the E.P.A. is not one of those things when I am talking to an unbeliever who does not have tomorrow guaranteed. I wanted to talk Gospel.
The way I would work the conversation into a Gospel conversation is ask the protesters what their primary concern was, and then ask them how they can justify having that concern apart from Jesus.
Thus, in short, my argument was similar with most people. If Jesus is not Lord, why should I care about the environment? Why should I care about people? What are they made in God’s image or something?
The protesters out there were imposing moral values on the world (care for humans, care for nature, etc.) without having a foundation for objective morality. That is what I went in to expose.
It was amazing how consistently each person utterly failed to answer the most basic questions underneath their protests.
I did not hear a single, coherent argument for why all people every where are bound to an unchanging moral code that requires we care about people. Their protest was standing on that foundation, but their worldviews contradict that foundation.
So I was not disagreeing with them that taking care of the environment or helping people is good. I was arguing with them that apart from the Gospel of Jesus and the Word of God they have no foundation to believe or impose those ideals. In short, they were stealing from my worldview all evening long, and I exposed that.
“Make false equivalency arguments about abortion being a more important issue than the environment / Draw bizarre false equivalency arguments between abortion and babies being of greater importance than the environment.”
I do believe abortion is a more important issue than the environment, however, I do not remember saying that ever. I am not sure what this person is referring to.
What I think is going on is that this person remembers me briefly exposing to someone the inconsistency of wanting the environment to be clean so that people can live in health, yet also supporting the murder of people before they even get into the environment. Either we need to care that innocent people are healthy or not, but we cannot pick and choose. And that is not a “false equivalency”, it is a “reductio ad absurdum.”
It also may surprise the reader of this blog who knows me well to hear that I did not bring abortion up. It was brought up completely off subject to deflect the conversation I was currently having.
Clearly, these people were too antsy to brag about their love of child sacrifice to keep it under wraps for long.
“Ask rape survivors to their face to justify ‘what if my mom was raped and I wasn’t here?’ ‘What if your mom was raped, don’t you like being alive?’
I did not know these women were rape survivors, but I do not see the relevancy that information to my argument. What happened was that they first asked me how many children I adopted after I boldly told them I think slaughtering innocent babies is immoral.
After exposing how illogical it is to suggest I have to adopt children in order to have the right to oppose murder, rather than refuting me, they jumped to a brand new argument and asked about cases of rape.
I communicated to them that an innocent baby should not be murdered because their father committed a crime.
They then ignored my logic, and asked me if I had ever been raped. It was at this point I realized these people were not interested in truth, or logic. They just wanted emotional rhetoric, so I provided both. I told them that I was not raped, but asked them if my mom were, should I be dead?
I think that is a great argument, and it went unanswered. Every person we meet could potentially be a person conceived in rape. Their argument wishes those people dead. It is wicked and immoral. And my question exposed that.
I did also turn it on them. One woman told me she was adopted. And I responded this way, “Aren’t you glad your birth mother chose to put you up for adoption rather than kill you?”
Again, that is a perfectly reasonable question. And it was unanswered.
“Disparage other religion’s and sect’s interpretations of Jesus as being not as correct as your ‘Biblical Christian’ interpretation.”
I will go ahead and boldly plead guilty to this. Nearly everyone I spoke with openly admitted that they believed god was/is whoever we choose him to be. So yes, I did disparage that.
God has spoken to us in His Word. We know who He is. This is why Paul condemned the Athenian idols in Acts 17, and it is why I disparaged the idols of the Alamosa protestors.
I unashamedly called their gods false idols, and called those people to repent of their false religions and believe in the one true God as revealed in Scripture.
“So overall, all you did was come to a peaceful protest..”
Let me take a brief moment to commend the protesters at this event. They were overall very peaceful.
I thought the groups holding their signs against the building windows shouting in and tapping on the windows were a bit aggressive. But overall, no one shouted, no one threatened anyone, the police who were there did not have to get involved, there was no violence, nor was there any rioting, looting, or burning. This was a peaceful protest well within the rights of the people.
In case there was any implication meant by this that I was somehow not peaceful, let me make it clear: I was.
To put it another way, I was no more a nuisance to the protesters than the protesters were to the people inside the building they were protesting.
And this is an appropriate moment to bring up what I think was the ultimate hypocrisy of the assembly. They were so bothered by me being there.
One man stopped me to call me despicable and told me if Jesus were here, He would hate my hypocrisy. I had many moments at the end of the day of people just shaking their heads at me in disapproval, all for doing exactly what they are doing.
That is an incredible hypocrisy. Those people went out into the public, yelled their beliefs at other people in the public, and then acted completely disgusted at me, for going into the public, and engaging people with my beliefs.
In other words, I protested, and was called despicable….by protesters! Apparently, protesting and engaging people is only a virtue when you agree with secular progressives.
One woman who I spoke with, came back up to me and criticized me for engaging people who do not want to be spoken with. Let me say that again: A woman I did not want to talk to anymore, came up to me without my permission, to criticize me for talking to people who did not want to be spoken with. And I could give numerous examples like this from just the 1 hour I was there.
I was continually told by people that they did not want to talk to me. Some of them would literally cover their heads with their signs and run away (which is the product of an inconsistent, incoherent worldview which cannot withstand cross examination.)
It was truly remarkable that their double-standards and hypocrisy went unnoticed. It was truly remarkable that they expected to get away with posting their opinions on signs, and shouting them out in public, and still not be confronted at all.
What is that one saying about being in the kitchen when you cannot take the heat?
“..to argue with strangers..”
Again, the word argue is used as a pejorative which I take issue with, but I suppose technically I did do this. However, how is this not further hypocrisy? The woman who wrote this does not have a personal relationship with any of the representatives she was protesting, or with any of the citizens that were forced to read her sign. Apparently, she is allowed to communicate her beliefs to strangers, but I am not. Jesus hates double-standards.
“..using circular reasoning…”
Saying I used circular reasoning does not make it so. Notice how this woman was not able to cite one example of my circular reasoning. I did not argue in circles at all. I would invite anyone else there who may be reading this to cite one circular argument I used.
As a side note, I actually called out someone else’s circular reasoning and they responded by saying, “What’s wrong with circular reasoning? So what if I am using circular reasoning?” And that’s the problem with mobs: there is no confession.
It is impossible to know what you are representing. Apparently, according to one of the ilk, it wouldn’t be a problem had I done this anyway.
“All I learned from your presence is that nobody should engage you in public or you get hostile and that I hope someone so entitled and insensitive are not representative of your church’s views.”
Yet again, we have more accusations without a single shred of evidence. I think the people at my church know not to take these kinds of charges at face value. They are good, godly people who would demand evidence for this. Until then, it is slander.
I maintain that I was in no way hostile. I dare someone to provide a basis for this claim.
I was very polite as I asked people what their sign said, or why they were protesting.
I called no one names.
I never yelled.
I shook many people’s hands, and thanked many people for their time.
Anyone who walked away or told me they did not want to talk was not harassed or followed by me.
I never reengaged with anyone I already spoke with without them approaching me first.
In fact, perhaps the best evidence of this would be our local police department. There were multiple officers outside the event the entire night. Not once did I receive even a warning from them. In fact, the protesters that were angry with me never even went to the police to warn them of me. This is clear indication that I was not at all hostile in any way.
The “entitled” remark is clearly just a bias, and is another judgment of my motives. That can be dismissed with an eye roll.
And was I “insensitive”? I really do not think I was. However, I refuse to take sensitivity lessons from people who think it is permissible to murder innocent babies.
“The point is that you should be more careful with how you go about these ‘protesting protest’ attempts because you run the risk of representing your faith and your church poorly, as you did to me and others there.”
I believe that I have thoroughly demonstrated there is no reason to assume I represented the faith, or God’s church poorly. I argued and debated as Scripture commands (2 Cor. 9: 3-6). I called people to repent of their idols and turn to the true and living Christ revealed in Scripture, and I never once offended, attacked, or maligned a person while doing it.
Secondarily, this accusation which is hurled against any Christian attempting to engage the culture is a complete red-herring. Am I really supposed to believe that by going home and sitting on my couch I would change those protester’s minds about Jesus?
This person claims I represented the Christian faith poorly, implying this is going to turn people off to the faith. I do not see how not showing up would have turned any of those people on to Christianity. I fail to see how not showing up would have represented Christ better.
However, the most important issue I want to take note of to end my defense is the irony that a person who said, “I’m a Catholic, thanks for asking” is criticizing me for representing my church poorly.
This is woman who participated in a protest which supported Planned Parenthood. This was a protest which supported murdering babies, and this woman taking part of it, while representing the Catholic church, has accused me of representing my faith poorly.
I wonder what the Catholic church historically and currently thinks about abortion…
Even with the the current Pope being very liberal and progressive, I would still be willing to bet even he hates abortion.
Rome has been very clear on this issue for quite some time.
I know many Catholics who would shake their heads in shame knowing a professing Catholic was taking part in a protest like this.
Let me address this woman specifically in case she takes the time to read this:
It is YOU who is misrepresenting your church so poorly, for your views on abortion are not in line with any official doctrine or teaching of the Roman church historic or contemporary.
Allow me this advice to all of the non-believers in my geographical location who may be reading this post: If you do not want your ideas to be challenged and questioned, do not broadcast them on a sign and stand on a public sidewalk while shouting them.
If you do not like to be engaged, there are many ways in this country to voice your opinion so that I cannot encounter.
You can email your representatives, you can call their offices, you can pray to your gods, and you can block me from social media. Those are all valid and fair ways to privately voice your opinion.
When you decide to instead make a public spectacle, you will be met in the public arena.
Consider this a friendly reminder from one of your local pastors, when you choose to go out in public: I will be there every time. Every chance I possibly hve to challenge your worldview, to articulate the Gospel of Christ Jesus to you, and to call you to repentance, I will be there. Every time.
Your rallies and protests are exciting for those of us Christians who enjoy evangelizing the nations. So please, make your signs, organize your events, and invite as many of your friends as you can.
Because I very much look forward to talking with you.