This past week one of our own made the headlines, but not for what you might think. The student voice of Boise State University, The Arbiter, posted an article on its website entitled “Boise State is No Place for Hate” about Shawn Holes, aka “Shawn the Baptist”, and his recent evangelistic visit to the campus. Shawn and his wife Lisa are Mission Service Corps missionaries with the North American Mission Board. Shawn crisscrosses the nation visiting college campuses and other venues to share the Gospel through open-air preaching and one-on-one conversations.
Using emotionally-charged phrases describing his style as “oftentimes abrasive” and his preaching as “caustic”, The Arbiter story decried the “hateful rhetoric” Holes supposedly spewed forth. In the piece, Holes was quoted as preaching that “evolution is a lie” and “women are by design inferior to men.” The article reports that:
Almost constantly, Holes and the crowd berated each other, using derogatory names, interrupting and shouting. At times it seemed they were about to come to blows.
Things apparently got so heated that police and campus security had to be summoned to maintain order.
Hard to believe that a minister of the Gospel would behave this way, right?
Well, that’s because he didn’t.
According to Holes, The Arbiter reporter, Benjamin Mack, left out a few other embarrassing facts about the behavior of some of the students at the place that is “no place for hate.” Holes wrote on his Facebook page that “one of our signs was stolen, a man threatened to beat me up if the police wasn’t there and one student grabbed an entire handful of tracts and had several students rip them to shreds.”
Holes also took time to correct what he felt the story misquoted, “I preached that women were created as a helpmeet to man. If somebody has a problem with that then take it up with God not with me. Women btw are smarter than men, better at just about everything, and frankly are way better looking!”
The Arbiter piece reports hateful misbehavior from both sides of the soapbox, but downplays the fact that the authorities were apparently standing near Holes for his own protection. The police were called to quell the noise and misbehavior not of Holes but of the BSU crowd, who set fire to pamphlets Holes offered and one person used a bullhorn to pepper the preacher with obscenities. (Holes, incidentally, was preaching unamplified; he wasn’t “shouting”, he was projecting.)
This wasn’t Holes’ first experience with angry students reacting forcefully to his message. On a Colorado campus just two days prior, police were called after students started throwing drink bottles at the itinerant preacher and one full one hit Holes.
The missionary-evangelist is no stranger to this particular campus, visiting and preaching there several times throughout the year. Like he always does, on this day he invited students to come talk with him personally after his preaching. About 30 of the students did just that as they wanted to know more of his Christian message–another detail left out of The Arbiter piece. Holes also said that because of his regular visits on campus he has made “tons” of friends there.
For a guy who supposedly preaches hate, Shawn the Baptist sure seems be a likeable guy on campus.
Actually, here… see for yourself.
Here is a video clip Holes posted from his time on campus this week. Does this match the reporter’s story of his behavior? Does this look like a man preaching “hateful rhetoric”?
Sadly, some of Holes’ detractors were ones one might expect to come to his side. The Arbiter story quotes the local
Campus Cru sade for Christ Campus Minister coolly distancing himself and the organization from Holes and his 2,000-year old method of Gospel proclamation, questioning whether it was “the most effective or the best approach…”
Earlier this year the same outlet, The Arbiter, wrote a much more complimentary piece on Holes, even including an audio interview with him. You can read and listen to those perspectives here.
In full and fair disclosure, I have known Shawn since 2008 and am a small financial supporter of his ministry through the North American Mission Board. -AR