The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Traveling preacher aims at NE

By Gary Collins and Katie Hudson-Martinez/managing editor and feature editor

Brother Rick, a traveling preacher, listens as student Robert Rodriguez shares his views with other students gathered for Rick’s unexpected sermon March 26 in the Free Speech Zone on NE Campus.  Photo by Gary Collins/The Collegian
Brother Rick, a traveling preacher, listens as student Robert Rodriguez shares his views with other students gathered for Rick’s unexpected sermon March 26 in the Free Speech Zone on NE Campus. Photo by Gary Collins/The Collegian

An exercise in free speech turned ugly on NE Campus last week, prompting multiple calls to campus police and forcing campus officials to reconsider guidelines for allowing such forums on campus.

Brother Rick, a self-proclaimed traveling evangelist who has preached at college campuses around the world, drew a crowd of around 50 students, many shocked and offended by his message of hellfire and brimstone.

“He was attacking individual people and saying that they were going to go to hell for smoking cigarettes or because they are Muslim,” Austin Scott, whose grandfathers were both Southern Baptist preachers, said.

Imran Samir, a Muslim student, was playing pool in the Student Center when a friend came in and told him a man was outside berating Muslims.

“He was saying that all Muslims just blow things up,” Samir said. “It was very offensive to me.”

Another student, Robert Rodriguez, spoke up for the preacher when students began to taunt him.

“Some of the things he said I agreed with, when he was talking about the Bible, but when he just started discriminating against other religions, I didn’t agree with that,” he said. “I felt like if they didn’t like what he was saying, they should quit listening. They didn’t have to curse and disrespect him like that.” 

As the debate grew increasingly heated, the man was asked to leave by Chief Frank Buchanan of TCC police.

“He was in compliance with campus ordinances and had been given a permit by student activities,” he said. “But it just got to a point where it looked like things were not going well, and we felt like it was time for him to move on.”

Dr. Paula Vastine, director of student activities on NE Campus, said state law requires that persons be allowed to exercise free speech in designated areas of college campuses, but in light of this incident, she was recommending a change in TCC guidelines regarding the implementation of this right.

“When someone is hurling insults at students and just screaming at people who walk by, that’s not a beneficial experience for the campus,” she said.

“He insulted the pope and Muhammad, and he was creating a problem. He could have started a little riot here, I think,” she said.

Several students, however, found the entire display amusing, and many were laughing out loud.

“I thought it was pretty entertaining,” Andrew Coons said. “I didn’t agree with his ideas, but if it was in a free speech zone, then it should be OK.”

On his tour of metroplex colleges, he was also escorted off campus at TCU and had been at TCC spreading his message for two uneventful days.

Brother Rick blogs at www.BrotherRick.net with links to YouTube videos students shot of him with their cell phones. One is titled “Louisville Lunatic (Brother Rick)” and another “Crazy Preacher Guy.”

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