The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Drill Field protestors do not foster sense of community on campus

Ivy Rose Ball
Mississippi State students walk by drill field protestors often.

Like many incoming freshmen, I attended New Maroon Camp. My counselors taught my group the ins and outs of Mississippi State University, from traditions like the fight song to tips on how to avoid parking tickets. Within the first week of classes, though, my group learned another staple of scholarship here at MSU — avoiding protestors on the Drill Field.

Become a student at Mississippi State, and within the first couple of months you will come to know and form a strong opinion about these groups. They come to our drill field with large signs with messages addressed to liars, fornicators, those with suicidal ideations, feminists, homosexuals and more. They spread their message with small children by yelling at passing students.

There are different groups that assemble on the drill field, with two notable groups being North Hinds Church in Bolton, Mississippi, and Consuming Fire Fellowship in Gloster.

Annah Boyd is part of the Hinds County group and is the daughter of the main voice heard on campus while they are in Starkville.

“We come to college campuses because it is the next generation that is rising up. We feel like it’s a very good place to preach to people to hear the Gospel. This is not the only place we go, but I think this is a good place to reach young people,” Boyd said when asked of the group’s decision to come to MSU.

The Hinds group also gathers at the University of Mississippi, and used to gather outside of abortion clinics, until they were shut down in this state. They try to preach like this once a week.

Boyd has had limited interactions with the crowd from Consuming Fire Fellowship, claiming to have run into the group at an abortion clinic once before. The effect of the group is something she has experienced firsthand, though.

“We always hear about them at campuses. People don’t like them. I don’t really know what they preach. I think they preach the gospel. I think they have a really hard method of preaching the gospel, but I’m not really sure,” Boyd said.

The lasting effect of the group is clear. “I just notice that it turns a lot of people off. We definitely notice that if we go somewhere the day after them, people are more mad. I’m thankful that people are out here preaching the gospel, I am,” Boyd said.

Rules about free speech and assembly on this campus are defined in OP 91.304. There are a handful of rules, like no amplification devices or permanent setups allowed.

Guideline six is particularly notable, as it claims, “No activity will be permitted that blocks access to university buildings, streets, sidewalks, or facilities, defaces property, injures individuals, unreasonably interferes with regular or authorized university activities or functions, or disrupts the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”

What is defined as blocking access to university buildings, streets, sidewalks, or facilities? Or what defines an injury to an individual? I would make the argument that a lot of the rhetoric these people spread is the definition of injurious. To be told you are going to hell while just trying to walk to class is a pressure students should not have to deal with on this campus.

Cameron Renfrow is a senior psychology major and president of F.L.A.R.E., an association created to advocate for and provide resources to LGBTQ+ students.

“It looks bad for the school, but it also makes it look like the school accepts this behavior. We have one person that messaged in our group saying that it makes everything feel hopeless, like everyone’s against us,” Renfrow said.

Renfrow went on to continue that they did reach out to the student to make sure they were okay, but that overall, the situation is difficult for students in her organization.

“These are a big group of people that hate you. And if you’re already struggling, that makes it so much worse,” Renfrow said.

“Is God tolerant? No!” one of the pamphlets from Consuming Fire Fellowship reads. “God does not accept you as you are, nor does God approve of you as a sinner who loves breaking his law,” it continues.

The website of CFF is filled to the brim with information. There are pages upon pages of sermons available to anyone who visits the site. A particular comic entitled “The Story of Dick, Jane, and Sally” features three characters who sin and, except for Sally, all go to hell. There is a warning underneath the comic, which reads:

“Due to the lack of critical reasoning and low reading comprehension, this literature may be too sophisticated for the modern university student. Caution is advised.”

I am a Christian. I was raised in my beliefs, and over the past couple of years have come to define my relationship with faith myself, rather than just going to church because my parents made me or reading the Bible simply because I did not want to go to hell.

These protestors are “spreading the gospel” in a format I find uncomfortable at best, and hateful and dangerous at worst. Learning to love your neighbor is a commandment straight from the Bible, one that I have found to be incredibly difficult at times.

It is difficult to have compassion for people with such differing beliefs than your own. I find it difficult to think kindly toward the people who gather on the drill field and scream at my friends that they are sinful and condemned to an eternity of suffering.

However difficult these things are in practice, they are essential to keeping this campus one that fosters community and fellowship. I understand and agree that First Amendment rights should not be infringed upon, and these groups have the right to spread their message.

These groups feed off of interactions. They savor every moment that students give them, and they use this to go back to their congregations and boast of all the good they are doing on campus.

They will lose interest in this campus and our student body as soon as the motivation that keeps them here dries up. They will move on to the next big thing as soon as they are ignored and realize they have no place here.

About the Contributor
Lucy Hallmark
Lucy Hallmark, Opinion Editor
Lucy Hallmark is a sophomore biochemistry major from Summit, Mississippi. She currently serves as the Opinion Editor. [email protected]
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    ChristineMar 6, 2024 at 1:51 pm

    My 19 year old daughter is being harassed by the more aggressive group. Today, she was wearing a Queen (the rock band) t shirt and was told she would burn in hell for being a homosexual. Then, an adult male kept stepping in front of her to try to stop her and lecture her, based ONLY on the shirt she was wearing. One of the protesters had a young child with him last week and told his child to chase after my daughter to try to force homophobic literature into her hands. My daughter told me today that she misses the milder Christian group that only tries to politely hand out bibles and doesn’t scream hatred and brimstone. While I support freedom of speech, I have issues with non-student adults gathering on campus to spit hateful rhetoric to students who are experiencing the chaotic transition from child to adult.