The Daily Gamecock

Preacher sparks debate

Students gather on Greene Street to listen to Tom Short

Like clockwork, those debates draw a crowd, leading to more debate. But some of the comments from the crowd Monday afternoon got particularly mean.

River City Network, an evangelical student organization, brought Tom Short to Greene Street Monday. Ray Vaughn, a River City Network leader, said the organization obtained a permit for Short to speak until 2 p.m. Afterward, Short and the crowd of students surrounding him moved onto Davis Field, where Short continued preaching past 5 p.m.

When Short held up a picture of Adolf Hitler to make the case that non-Christians lack the basis of moral objectivity to call Hitler evil, a few students became irate.

"You just said two Jewish students don't think Hitler is evil!" one student yelled.

Shouts of "you're psychotic" and "you're talking out of your a--" were met with remonstrations by other students in support of Short.

Short said that many students aren't worried about the afterlife because they don't have a high probability of dying anytime soon.

"Your probability is going up," one student replied to Short.

Such comments were retorted by students such as Shatima Stephens, who believed the students arguing with Short were going too far.

"I just think that when we come into situations like these, we can't be closed-minded, even if we disagree," said Stephens, a fourth-year psychology student. "Obviously, it's a heart issue."

Jeff Lipack, one of the students debating Short, cited Relativism to argue against Short's message.
"There is no right and there is no wrong," said Lipack, a first-year biology student who says he's an atheist. "When people decide they think they know what is right, that creates controversy."

Lipack said the event was a great representation of South Carolina as a whole.

Vaughn explained that inviting Short was River City Network's way of spreading the message of Christ and fostering dialogue among students about matters of faith that don't normally come up. He said the use of the Hitler picture was an appropriate visual aid.

"I've heard so many people talk about different people coming on campus and different types of speakers who are more confrontational and are this, this, this," Vaughn said. "Tom isn't like that; I'd say that he's an apologist."

Short's website shows where he stands on different issues. For instance, his website says that Glenn Beck "speaks the truth and is saying things that no one else is saying — and that need to be said. Just wish he weren't a Mormon."

Literature handed out on Greene Street states that Short will be speaking on campus "during the next few days."