Tanner Warmoth contributed to this article.
Brother Jed Smock, 73, has preached at college campuses in all 50 states and some abroad for over four decades. This spring, like in years past, he created a scene in Texas Tech’s Free Speech Area with his controversial statements.
Smock, who represents The Campus Ministry USA, said he has been around higher education his whole life. He has a master’s degree, his father is a professor, and he has been a professor himself at the University of Wisconsin. Because he believes college students will be in positions of influence in the future, he focuses his preaching on campuses.
“As go our campuses, so goes America,” Smock said.
Because of his words of intolerance — such as calling women “whores” for wearing yoga pants and condemning gay people to Hell — students may be surprised to learn of his past. He said he got involved in the “drug, radical revolutionary movement of the ’60s.”
“Ended up living on a hippie commune in Africa, worshipping the Sun, howling at the Moon, running the beaches naked,” Smock said.
On Christmas Day of 1971, he said, an Arabic man carrying a cross started preaching to him in the name of Jesus. From there, he said he started reading the New Testament, and it changed his life forever.
“That put the fear of God in me,” Smock said. “The Bible says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. I was planning on going to Indiana and studying under a guru. Instead, I returned to the States, started going to church again and surrendered my life to Jesus.”
Smock identifies himself as a Pentecostal Methodist. He is married with five children and preaches at college campuses five days a week for five hours a day.
According to the man in the free speech area we're all going to hell.
— Chris (@c_deelo_ssantos) March 29, 2016
Brother Jed let his “intern,” Joshua, take over the main preaching at the time of this interview. He was proud to say Joshua and his sister Kirsten are both virgins, who have never been on dates — meaning they live morally upright lives, in his opinion.
He was sitting to the side, talking to Summer Moseley, a sophomore early childhood development major, about whether her yoga pants were acceptable attire.
Smock said yoga pants are underwear, and since Christians care about each other, women should not wear anything that may provoke a male. He said it could end in a woman getting raped.
“I don’t wake up in the morning thinking, ‘What can I wear to not get raped?'” Moseley said.
“Well, you ought to,” Smock said.
Moseley said she does not expect to get through to Smock. She thinks he and his followers come to college campuses to get a rise out of people.
“If anything, it just pushes people away from God, and I think it gives a really bad name to Christians,” Moseley said.
She said she has known Jesus since she was 6 and is aware that since people are born sinners, we rely on Christ’s forgiveness.
“You can sit here and preach at me all day long, telling me that I’m going to Hell, but I know God, and God knows what’s in my heart,” Moseley said. “And God knows his heart. And when he meets Jesus, when he gets to wherever he’s going, God is going to see him for who he is.”