Most students on the UA campus are used to seeing the occasional extremist preacher. However, this year’s lot is shaping up to be a bit more permanent.
If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, stop by the grassy hill located in front of the Administration building.
There you will find Brother Dean Saxton IV, who is studying religious studies and classics. Almost every afternoon, he stakes out in front of the hill with his staff and preaches to the masses.
But before you casually sit down, be warned: This isn’t your standard sermon.
Dean’s sermons follow fairly routine themes. He curses people who are gay, have pre-marital sex, masturbate or have lustful thoughts, to hell.
He arguably does this in the most attention-grabbing way possible, as when he shouts, “All you homos, you’re going to hell. All you masturbators, you’re going to hell,” while wearing a T-shirt that says, “You deserve hell.”
Saxton said the reason for his extremely intensive sermons is to scare people out of their ungodly practices, so they don’t end up in hell.
But he wasn’t always so radical. In fact, Saxton’s views on evangelism only changed last year. He was raised in a non-extremist, Christian home by loving parents who encouraged their kids to attend church every Sunday and follow the fundamentals of Christianity.
He spent his freshman and sophomore years attending Christian college groups like the Branch, a college and career ministry of Catalina Foothills Church, and the Navigators, a UA Christian group. However, these groups had nothing to do with Saxton’s current views.
In fact, Saxton says they tried to deter him from his aggressive preaching. Several local pastors even asked him to stop preaching because he was offending students, but couldn’t convince him to change his ways.
“I was looking for a way to be on fire for God,” Saxton said. Brother Jed, an extremist pastor who visits the UA annually, eventually pushed Saxton over the edge.
Although Saxton acknowledges there are other methods of preaching, he believes his to be most effective.
“Jesus commanded us to preach, therefore other Christians should be willing to preach Christ’s message as well,” he said.
But the problem isn’t that Saxton’s preaching. It’s the way he preaches.
1 John 1:9 tells us, “Let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Saxton says his preaching may be abrasive, but he does love UA students. He just shows it by damning them to hell.
When asked whether he realizes that cursing students to hell doesn’t seem like love, he replied, “Yes, but they need to hear it.”
It may be hard to believe, but Saxton’s intentions aren’t totally evil. He truly wants to save people from his belief of the Christian doctrine of eternal hell.
Saxton doesn’t seem to realize how terribly destructive his methods are. Judging people and damning them for their actions isn’t only inappropriate, it’s downright offensive.
Unfortunately, he is unable to understand that offended people will continue to respond negatively and will most likely never change their ways.
While Saxtons’ reputation on campus grows, so does distaste for his abrasive and invasive preaching.
A better way to attract people to Christianity is by demonstrating God’s love through loving others, rather than trying to scare people out of hell.
Saxton has got it all wrong. As Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
— Hollie Dowdle is a journalism junior. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.