Brother Jed preaches at Speaker's Circle on the campus of the University of Missouri in October 2014.
George Edward Smock
January 4, 1943
|Years active||1972 – present|
|Spouse(s)||Cynthia D. "Cindy" Lasseter Smock (m. 1983)|
|Children||Charlotte, Evangeline, Justina, Martha, and Priscilla|
|Religion||Brother Jed Christian|
George Edward "Jed" Smock, Jr. (born January 4, 1943), better known as Brother Jed, is an American evangelist whose open-air preaching ministry is concentrated on college campuses. He has preached at major universities in all fifty US states, and in some other countries. As an itinerant preacher, he usually only spends a few days on each campus, visiting the northern campuses in the fall and spring and the southern campuses in the winter months. In 2004 he relocated to Columbia, Missouri where he often preached at the University of Missouri and other colleges throughout the Midwest. In the summer of 2013 he relocated his ministry and residence to his hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana.
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, which became a regular part of his life. Smock began attending Indiana State University in 1960, studying social studies and English. By his second year he had 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 attended graduate school at Indiana State University, where he earned a master's degree in history and wrote 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.
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 was joined by a University of Florida student soon after she had seen him preach in 1978.
Smock formed Campus Ministry USA, a para-church organization, in 1984. In 2004 the group moved its operations from Newark, Ohio to Columbia, Missouri, where he often preached at the University of Missouri on Speakers Circle.
Brother Jed left Columbia for Indiana in 2013. His family was documented for a pilot TV series while preaching in Indiana.
Brother Jed frequents Eastern Illinois University.
Jed married Cynthia D. Lasseter Smock (who calls herself “Sister Cindy” when preaching). They have five daughters, all of whom have accompanied them on their travels and appearances on college campuses.
Preaching style and personal views
Smock wrote a spiritual autobiography, "Who Will Rise Up?" in which he describes his dissolute youth and conversion experience, and presents his justification for his confrontational style of evangelism.
Smock and his wife Cindy use a distinctive preaching style, termed "confrontational evangelism" in the subtitle of his autobiography. This controversial variant of evangelism is shared by some street and campus preachers, who hope that a spiritual rebuke will force sinners to repent. In his autobiography Smock refers to his college evangelical group as "The Destroyers," but this name is not presently being used on his website.
Smock is a member of the United Methodist Church, although his actions, views, and theology are not indicative of its positions.
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!" and "Who are you, Bob Marley?" (addressed to a black student with dreadlocks). 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, those who use tampons, and masturbators. As a result of his aggressive, rude and confrontational style of preaching, Brother Jed is frequently mocked and accused of intolerance.
Smock's behavior and beliefs are not accepted in most Christian circles, and some view his beliefs as cultish. Besides issues relating to coarse language with immodest sexual references, Smock claims to be sinless, holding an unorthodox position called sinless perfection. He identifies himself with the teachings of Pelagius, a heretical British monk who denied moral inability and the effects of original sin. Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics uniformly consider Pelagianism to be a heresy. In addition, he holds a view of God which denies that goodness is an essential attribute of God's nature. His theological positions are indicative of moral government theology, which is also considered to be heretical by evangelical Christianity.
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- Brother Jed moves beyond Speakers Circle, Columbia Missourian
- 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+