College can be a rude awakening. Students are not only being introduced to the hardships of living away from their parents, but they are witnessing firsthand the rights that were written out by our founding fathers being played out. One man in particular has used the right to freedom of speech to his full advantage, and his name is Adam (he refused to give his last name).
Adam, who identifies himself as Christian, spends his free time preaching in Southwest Florida. Recently, he has received a lot more free time; Adam admitted he had just lost his job due to “unjust reasons.”
While walking on campus during the week, one might see him standing anywhere between the bus loop and library, quoting verses from the Bible and attracting large groups of students who listen and add their thoughts. He and a group of other men and women also like to visit other colleges such as USF and high schools such as Cape Coral High.
Although FGCU does see Adam frequently on campus, he does not limit his preaching to schools. On his YouTube account, TeamJesusPreachers, he frequently posts videos of him and others preaching and witnessing at beaches, outside of clubs, restaurants and shops. In every video he posts he gets somewhat the same reaction from his audience as he does here at FGCU. It is hard to hear what some of the audience members are saying to him is a he preaches.
But, their movements and tone of voice clearly show their disapproval of his words. Adam has been called out by passersby for being “too aggressive,” but when asked about his aggressiveness toward people, he replies, “I’m passionate.”
Adam was calm while speaking of his past. He mentioned being in college and remembered meeting a man who preached like he is doing now, but instead of agreeing with the man, he argued with him. The preacher commented on students who argue with him about his preaching saying he “tries to ignore the comments, but it gets exhausting.” He has questioned himself in the past if he has done any good, but his self doubt gets shot down when he “feels so good” about himself the next day.
Adam also shared his struggle with drugs.
“I was addicted to marijuana for a long time,” Adam said. “And cocaine for about six months. I had heart failure. God saved me.”
His comeback from drug addiction is what makes him so “passionate about preaching.”
Michael Tucker, a sophomore, uses the words “giant bully” to describe Adam. Standing in front of the preacher, Tucker beats on a djembe, a type of drum, to “drown him out and distract him” as revenge for disrupting a yoga class he had attended prior. He claims that Adam “does not have the right to shame people” and believes that “if he’s going to bother us, we should be able to bother him, too.”
Fellow student Ryan Bowman, an engineering major, respects Adam’s preaching but also believes he’s being “too aggressive” and stated “he means well [by preaching] but is doing it the wrong way.”
Michael Rollo, vice president of Student Affairs, said there’s not much the school can do to keep Adam out since he is preaching outside in a public area. He is not breaking any of the schools policies.
Unless Adam or anyone else who exercises their right to freedom of speech walks into a building where classes are being held and causes a disruption, he cannot be forced to leave. But if the noise begins to start problems for the people who work in the buildings around him, he can be told to stay away from those buildings.
Rollo said when parts of the school are reserved for events, no one is allowed to be in that area during the time reserved.
“Even though there are plenty of people who disagree with him, there are people who support him and the school must cater to their needs and beliefs as well,” Rollo said. “As for the rude comments he makes, there’s no law against being rude, and that’s just something we will have to put up with.”
Adam would like to let every student know that he “loves all of you, not the way the world loves, but in the biblical sense.”