Crossing the road near Gore and Smith becomes a challenge when class gets out. But in the heard of people moving to the same places, once you go under the overpass and can see Trabant, the calling begins. “God is watching you right now.” Instantly, students know that this is none other than Mark Johnson, who is more commonly referred to as Kirkbride Jesus.
Recently, he has moved his post to outside of Caesar Rodney Dining Hall. Where most underclassman walk past him many times a day. He makes call outs regarding, God’s always watching over us, how higher education isn’t beneficial and His views on abortion. These are just some of the topics I have heard him preach about during my 4 years here.
As a student who is not religious, I do not chose to interact with him. On the numerous occasions I have seen him, I don’t usually see students stopping to ask questions or even react to him. Most stare and walk by.
Through this class, we have emphasized that physical interaction isn’t the only way to communicate our feelings. Yik Yak, Buzzfeed, The Odyssey, The Black Sheep, and twitter have all been sources where students share their opinions of his topics and signs.
I joined this social media movement by using the #KirkbrideJesus. While I didn’t get any responses so far, students have used this hashtag before. After reviewing some of the tweets, that even date back to 2012, mostly students are talking about how he is back and that seeing him changes their day. But not in the way that he wants. They do not talk about how his messages are changing their thinking. Some tweet quotes by him, but to share his message but to share the “#jokes”. Kirkbride Jesus even has a few versions of twitter accounts. None of which seem to be run by Mark himself.
I believe in freedom of speech and sharing your feelings about God or any other topic you find worth sharing. I do find that some of the topics Mark chooses to discuss on campus to be triggering. Some topics like abortion, rape and body image are hard topics for many to hear while they are simply walking to class. While I believe Mark has the right to preach about whatever he pleases, I don’t think this demographic benefits from his words.
While this seems to be local to UD, many are impacted daily by the sharing of messages. Whether they have a religious motives or not. Mark just comes out in the spring to share this feelings about God, hoping that one day something resinates with someone. Companies share messages too. We pass by them as consumers and can choose to listen and learn or can chose to pass by. These companies may not be discussing controversial topics like Mark sometimes does, but they are messages none the less.