Brother Jed

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Bro. Jed preaches at Speaker's Circle on the campus of the University of Missouri in September 2005.

George Edward Smock, Jr (born January 4, 1943), better known as Brother Jed, or Jed Smock, is an American evangelist whose ministry is concentrated on college campuses. He has preached at major universities in all fifty states, as well as other countries.[1] He usually only spends a few days on each campus hitting the northern campuses in the fall and spring and the southern campuses in the winter months. In 2004 he relocated to Columbia, Missouri[2] however in the spring of 2013, he announced he would be relocating to his hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana over the summer and headquartering his ministry from there.[3] He often preaches in Speaker's Circle at the University of Missouri, and other colleges throughout the midwest.

Biography[edit]

Brother Jed draws from many experiences in his early life while preaching. His self-described lifestyle of "drunkenness, dissipation and debauchery" began while he was a freshman in high school. Older friends exposed him to alcohol, and drunkenness became a regular part of life every week. Smock began attending Indiana State University in 1960, studying social studies and English, where he pledged Delta Upsilon Fraternity. By his second year, he established himself as the heaviest drinker in the fraternity. Smock states in his autobiography that, despite his lifestyle, he graduated near the top of his class. Smock also states in his autobiography that he attended Graduate School at Indiana State University attaining a Master's Degree in History and writing a Thesis on "the personal effects of smoking seven straight joints of marijuana" while he was a Research Assistant in Psychology for the Institute of Research into Human Behavior at the school. Smock served as a history professor for one year at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.[4]

Jed Smock campus preacher at UW-Oshkosh

The Campus Ministry[edit]

Smock has written a spiritual autobiography entitled "Who Will Rise Up?" in which he describes his dissolute youth and conversion experience as well as presenting his justification for his confrontational style of evangelism. Brother Jed, in his book, recalls how he converted to Christianity after being preached to by an Arab carrying a cross in Morocco. Smock began preaching to students at Indiana University in 1974, and he founded The Campus Ministry USA in 1984 after realizing he wanted to make evangelism his life's work.[4][5][1]

Brother Jed's business card from a speaking tour of Florida State University

Brother Jed and his wife Cynthia D. Lasseter Smock (a.k.a. “Sister Cindy”[6]) use a distinctive preaching style, termed "confrontational evangelism" in the subtitle of his autobiography, "Who Will Rise Up?" This controversial variant of evangelism[7] is shared by many street-preachers, campus pastors and other evangelicals, who hope that a spiritual rebuke will force sinners to repent.[8] In his Autobiography he refers to his College Evangelical Group as "The Destroyers"; but this name is not presently being used on his website. College newspapers have reported some of his statements: "I don't know how the whorehouses in this town stay open — all of you sorority girls are giving it away for free!," "Who are you, Bob Marley?" (said to a black student with dreadlocks),.[9] He often shouts, "A masturbator today is a homosexual tomorrow." His assistants carry signs declaring that feminists, liberals and those who listen to rock and roll are destined for Hell, along with homosexuals, fornicators and masturbators. As a result of his aggressive and confrontational style of preaching, Brother Jed is frequently mocked and accused of intolerance.[10] He and Cindy have five daughters, all of whom have accompanied them on their travels and appearances on college campuses.[11] His staff has often been accused of aggressively forcing students to listen to him by simply asking students with iPods to take them off to listen or grabbing random students passing by to listen. There also have been deceptions such as his staff advertising that there's another event on campus that has nothing to do with Brother Jed or Christianity, only to be deceived in the end..[12]

They are members of the United Methodist Church. However their actions, views, and theology are not indicative of that church.[13]

Fictional Portrayals[edit]

Smock's character was the basis of the 2012 short, Battle of the Sects.[14] In the short, an extreme evangelical preacher visits a university only to be run out by the campus Christians.[15]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Handelman, David "College is Hell: The Destroyers have preached hellfire and damnation on campus for a decade. But can they get a witness?" Rolling Stone 27 March 1986, pp. 87+