Free-speech zone sees preacher debate hot topics with students

Maximillian Lisowski, Opinion Editor

Preacher Tom Short engaged in heated conversations with students discussing homosexuality, morality and death, Wednesday.

Short, a campus evangelist, visited Iowa State from Monday to Wednesday and shared his experience as a Christian — urging students to follow in his footsteps — in front of Parks Library. With an audience of dozens of students coming and going, he concluded his visit by arguing that God is almighty, morality is objective and homosexuality is a choice. This rubbed many students the wrong way.

“You made the claim that there are a lot of heterosexual people who choose to become LGBTQ. Yeah. And that’s simply not true,” a student at the gathering said.

Short’s main talking point for Wednesday’s discussion was that he believed that homosexuality isn’t a thing of genetics, but rather a development.

“I think typically, people have a sexual appetite, a sexual drive,” Short said.“Sometimes it develops abnormally, and if it does, we don’t follow it. We try to resist it.”

He continued by saying that people’s desires get twisted — that anything other than heterosexuality is a desire that has “gotten off track.” Students at the gathering were quick to respond and questioned if one can be converted from heterosexual to homosexual.

Short generalized those that do become homosexual as those who were unhappy with their heterosexual relationships, not that they were inherent.

The conversation was mostly tame, but students shared that his preaching style did not add to his arguments, especially early on. Ivory Kronberg, a freshman majoring in education, sat and listened to Short for about two hours. Kronberg said Short began his conversation with students by yelling and not really speaking to people.

“The Bible says to do as he does, not say as he says, and he isn’t impacting us in a meaningful way,” Kronberg said. “In order to be effective, you have to listen, and he’s not doing any of that. He’s kind of a nut job, not gonna lie.”

Marisa L., a junior majoring in Global Resource Systems, noticed that Short was not being challenged on what he was saying, so she took it upon herself to start the debate but was scolded by Short.

“I sort of began to challenge him, and then he started belittling and degrading me in front of everyone,” Marisa said. “Later I came back and said ‘What’s your objective?’ and ‘How can we facilitate a more productive conversation?’”

This interjection promoted debate and encouraged students to engage with Short, leading to a more productive conversation for the rest of his visit.

Short’s next campus visit will be at Ohio State on Sept. 19.