The only other time we have preached on this campus was two days back in October 2o13.
On Tuesday we drove much of the day down from the northern top of the state from where we had preached at a great church twice on Sunday.
While driving through Albuquerque I had the idea I may try to preach there today. However when I called there was difficulties with the preaching areas being already occupied by other groups.
I wrestled with the idea of preaching in a different area but it was a risk. They may have threatened me with arrest or shut me down. This would have ended in a wasted day.
I decided to go with my original plan and make the long drive all the way down the state to Las Cruces.
Last time we preached here the administration and police officers did an outstanding job of cooperating with us and allowing us to preach without interfering.
They did ask us to call ahead of time and give them a heads up that we were coming.
Driving to campus I called and let them know we were coming. The administrator was very helpful, professional and polite. He even offered to give me a copy of their free speech policy.
I had some difficulty parking so I arrived about 15 minutes later than I wanted to.
I was in the administrator’s office just before noon and he explained the free speech policy to me and told me the areas I was permitted to preach in.
I was spying out the land and trying to decide which area would be best when I noticed the students were beginning to come out of their classes on class break.
I started my voice recorder, put my jacket and buttons on and began preaching across the street from the student union in a grass area facing a high traffic area.
This was around 12:20 PM and the weather was perfect. Clear, sunny skies, no wind and weather in mid 60’s.
I gathered a crowd of slightly over 100 fairly quickly. The crowd was asking good questions, behaving civilly, and was listening as I answered their questions.
Around 12:50 PM a police officer came walking towards me asking to follow him so he could talk to me.
The crowd cheered and dispersed as they assumed I was being kicked off the campus.
I was somewhat disappointed with this police officer since I had gone out of my way to cooperate with the procedure the school had asked me to.
The officer began to tell me I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was allowed to preach but I just could not disagree with students.
He then tried to tell me he was not interfering with my right to free speech.
I respectfully told him he was surely interfering with my free speech rights by telling me students had the right to disagree with me but I did not have the right to argue and disagree with them.
He asked for my ID, asked if I had gotten permission, asked me what message I was preaching, and asked about my buttons.
I remained respectful but I was firm and no nonsense with this officer.
I did not appreciate him ruining the crowd and interaction I was having by asking me to follow him and stop preaching after I had gone through necessary procedure. Now he is telling me I can’t argue with the students.
I respectfully and firmly gave him a short lesson on the purpose of free speech.
They told me the students called and complained I was starting a riot and they felt threatened.
I told the officer it was his job to control the students who wanted to get violent with me for exercising free speech. I have been doing this for years and could tell the crowd was not even rowdy, much less anywhere near wanting to riot.
I told the officers I would deescalate the situation if it attempted to turn violent but they cannot stop me from speaking because someone doesn’t like my speech and threatens to do me violence.
The other officer somewhat apologetically told me they knew I had already received permission. I think he was embarrassed by this other officer’s actions towards me.
I began preaching again around 1:00 PM. I began with one student who stayed around and was asking me questions. We were having a good discussion and the crowd quickly continued to grow to around 125-150 for the remainder of the afternoon.
Some students across the sidewalk were selling baked goods and one of the females brought me one of their items as a gift.
Later another female student brought me a new bottled beverage.
I was somewhat surprised at how well the students listened. My crowds were not massive but they were good sized crowds. Most of the day when they would ask a question and I would begin answering they remained silent and listened intently.
It also seemed I was able to connect with several of my hecklers today. They grew silent, stopped heckling me and began listening intently.
This happened with one catholic student with a large cross with a symbol of Jesus still on it. He brought a voice box and tried to preach over me but the police shut him down. He was opposing me fiercely at first but after some exchanges he stopped and began listening.
Later in the day the students asked something about why it was a sin to vote for the president twice.
As the crowd listened quietly I said “He supports same sex marriage, he supports abortion and he supports islam”.
After I said this I heard no objections from the crowd but they just remained silently listening. I almost think they had never even thought of this or heard anyone bring it up. No one objected or argued. All I heard was crickets.
Around 3:00 PM a male student interrupted the crowd and said something to the effect of “You make not like what this man is saying or the way he is saying it but about everything he is saying is totally biblical. I suggest you don’t just take his word for it but go study your bible and find out if what he is saying is true. ”
The crowd tried to close in around me, join hands and sing songs.
They never actually were able to do this but just closed in and continued asking questions.
One female student informed me I was speaking to educated, logical, informed college students and informed me I needed to come to them with facts, information and logical arguments.
I believe she was really trying to help me and really believed what she was saying. However what she said was so ridiculous and so far from the truth I started laughing.
I told her I had not heard any good arguments from the students all day long and thought they were uninformed.
I also told her I was backing up everything I was preaching with logical arguments. I gave her and those listening several examples of discussions I had repeatedly had during the day on subjects such as judging, sinning, repentance, love, etc.
I briefly replayed for them the students comments, my arguments and the students responses.
As usual my wife had students around her asking questions a good part of the day.
With the students around me asking questions we exited the crowd and thanked the officer around 3:15 PM.