Evangelists talk to students

Evangelists+stood+outside+the+front+doors+as+school+was+dismissed+on+Monday+Dec.+2.+Students+stood+and+discussed+religious+ideas+with+the+evangelists+for+around+a+hour+after+school+before+dispersing.

Kameran Miller

Evangelists stood outside the front doors as school was dismissed on Monday Dec. 2. Students stood and discussed religious ideas with the evangelists for around a hour after school before dispersing.

After school Dec. 2 a group of five self-proclaimed evangelists exercised their constitutional right to free speech on the sidewalks outside of Puyallup High School.

Holding picketed signs that read “Jesus Bore Your Sins” and wearing shirts emblazoned with “Repent or PERISH,” the evangelists talked with students about religious teaching.

One of the evangelists, Daniel Konzelman, explained why the group was there at PHS.

“We are here to share the gospel and the good news of Jesus Christ and his grace,” homeschooler Konzelman said. “We are here to warn people of his judgment and hopes that they will turn to our lord Jesus and glorify him.”

A Puyallup Police Officer was dispatched to keep order and ensure safety.

“Basically these people are exercising their right to free speech which is protected by the Constitution. I am here to make sure nothing gets out of hand and that tempers do not flare and everyone remains calm and respectful,” Officer Rob Kearney said. “They were using an amplifying device to project their ideas, which is prohibited by city ordinance, so I asked them to stop, which they did. Overall they have been really respectful.”

After Kearney told the evangelists to stop using their speakers, they simply stood on the sidewalks with their signs. Students walked up to them and engaged in conversation.

Student response to the group were mixed. Views ranged from being against the gathering, to engaging with the evangelists.

“The fact that there are students out here debating with them [is good.] You can tell people care,” senior Jake Hodges said. “They are just here to spread their message. A total defeat for these people coming here would be for no one to talk to them. The fact that people are talking to them is the victory.”

Several students found the gathering to be out of place.

“I think that, honestly there is a time and place and this is not the place here at school. Especially since kids are so impressionable and this is not the time for [condemning] speech,” senior Mikaela Brown said.

Other students echoed Brown’s statement.

“I think there is a thin line [between] church and state. I think it was very bold of them to come out here,” said junior Anna Ihrig.

Others acknowledged their right to be out at the school, without agreeing with the overall message.

“I believe that they can come out here and say what they want to, but it was not so much of a discussion as it was a telling to,” senior Kyle Hendricks said.

Despite the conversation’s delivery bearing similarities to a lecture, the group’s actions were completely within the bounds of their rights.

“I do not think they pose a threat to the school and they are not disrupting student activities. They are simply exercising their constitutional rights,” Kearney said.