t 10 a.m., the last thing most college students want to hear is someone screaming at them, saying they are headed straight for hell.
But that's exactly what happened to U. of West Virginia sophomore Erinn Exline on her way to class last fall. Her accoster? The infamous Brother Jed Smock.
The preacher's message is about as popular on campus as his trademark polyester vests, but despite the barrage of jeering and protest that follow him from one university to another, he's been bringing his ferocious brand of fire and brimstone Christianity to America's campuses for 26 years. And he has no plans to stop.
That's cool with Ohio State U.'s Vincent Conaway. This senior actually adjusted his course schedule so he wouldn't miss Jed's campus appearances. Though he disagrees with the preacher's views, he still sees a place for Jed on campus. "Some people get their feelings hurt or insulted. Sorry, but that's life."
Jed preaches daily, and has visited more than 600 schools in every state. His message? His wife Sister Cindy sums it up best: "If you're a fornicator, a drunkard, a rock 'n' roll freak or living in any kind of sin, you're headed for hell!"
Cindy, along with the couple's five home-schooled daughters, often preaches alongside the 55-year-old minister on his road trips. And while opponents label him sexist and homophobic, Jed remains steadfast in his mission to convert "decadent, depraved and degenerate" college students. "I'm confident that as a result of my preaching, a significant number of college students will change eventually," Jed says.
Not so, says Exline. "I think he needs to rethink his strategy of getting people to listen to him," Exline says. "He's wasting his time."
Ohio U. junior Caitlin Sweet agrees. After one of Jed's cohorts handed her a pamphlet titled "Convincing Reasons Homos are Hellbound," Sweet and other members of the student group "Swarm of Dykes" tried unsuccessfully to have Jed banned from campus. "He's so out there it's almost funny, until you think about what he is saying," she says. "It doesn't make you feel safe on your own campus."
By Jamie Pietras, Assistant Editor