By Dylan Adams, News Editor
Donovan Levine, Editor-In-Chief
Religious-conservative group Matthew 24 Ministries showed up at the KU campus on Aug. 31 to promote controversial messages and to spread divisive religious rhetoric.
KU released an email at 11:13 a.m. to both students and faculty about the demonstrators. The email explained that the group had no affiliation with KU or its values, stating that despite the difference in beliefs, the demonstrators were permitted by law to demonstrate as part of their First Amendment rights. KU reiterated that the university rejects all forms of racism, sexism, bigotry and discrimination. The email ended by reminding those who travel near the demonstrators to keep health and wellness protocols in mind, likely referring to COVID-19 social restrictions.
Matthew 24 Ministries stood with their signs and paraphernalia on the grass landing in front of KU’s South Dining Hall around noon and stayed for several hours. The group consisted of Pastor Aden Rusfeldt, Mary Rusfeldt, their kids and one other unidentified man. The two men were the center of the demonstration, holding various banners and signs promoting racist and homophobic sentiments alongside other controversial material, most prominantly “Obey Jesus or Hellfire.”
These demonstrators were met with backlash from students who flocked to counter-protest against the group’s message. A crowd upwards of 70 students gathered and could be heard swearing and yelling at the demonstrators. Many students were not wearing their masks or were wearing their masks inefficiently during back-and-forth interactions with the demonstrators. The crowd was packed tightly together, not adhering to the recommended 6 feet for social distancing to lower the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
Some students brought their own signs, written with statements countering the controversial views of the demonstrators of Matthew 24 Ministries. Many of these signs centered around ideas such as equality for women and racial equality.
The crowd of students cheered, shouted and cursed towards the demonstrators, attempting to drown out the demonstrators’ voices with chants such as“Women’s Rights”, “Breonna Taylor!” and “Black Lives Matter!” In satire against the demonstrators’ ideals, some sang provocative songs, while others used chants commonly associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police Supervisor Sgt. Barry Althouse had no comment on the incident, but he added, “The Kutztown Police are here for everyone’s safety.”
This particular religious group has frequented KU’s campus each year to spread the same messages promoting prejudice coupled with sermons advocating intolerance.