|Gary Eugene Birdsong|
Gary Birdsong preaching at UNC
|Other names||Preacher Gary|
|Known for||Unorthodox fundamentalist Christian preaching|
Gary Eugene Birdsong, commonly known as Preacher Gary or The Pit Preacher, is a travelling fundamentalist Christian preacher who frequents college campuses across the United States, particularly in North Carolina. He is known for his unorthodox interpretation of the Bible and his theatrical, accusatory style of preaching. He will often argue vehemently with other, more moderate Christians, who often accuse him of misrepresenting the Christian faith and driving people away from it with his extremism.
Birdsong, known to his audience as the Belk Tower Preacher (at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Pit Preacher (at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), the Brickyard Preacher (at North Carolina State University), the Sanford Mall Preacher (at Appalachian State University), and the Joyner Steps Preacher (at East Carolina University) has a large repertoire of subjects on which he preaches, ranging from the standards of heaven and hell, to drug use, premarital sex, homosexuality, Islam, atheism, feminism, communism, masturbation, rock and rap music, abortion, evolution, tolerance, politics, war, fashion, witchcraft, racism, and demonic possession.
Preaching style and repertoire
Birdsong uses a theatrical, accusatory style of preaching because he believes "getting people angry is his most effective method of preaching." He often offends students with his fundamentalist views, such as his belief that "white folks are different, black folks are different and when you start mixing them up there's a lot of confusion," and his opinion on feminism is that "it ain't in the Bible." His views frequently result in heated debates with students, though he says it is not until "folks get attitudes that I get attitude."
When asked by a student interviewer his opinion on UNC being a liberal university, he responded, "This University is the most stupidest place I have ever been." He called the administration "wicked people," and said, "they've perverted the First Amendment — the state was told not to interfere with the First Amendment, the freedom to practice religion. Well, just look at what religion they're talking about! It's Christianity — look at the founding fathers!" His nickname for the university is "Homo Hill," his view on homosexuality being that it is "an abomination to God."
On March 8, 2007, Birdsong was removed from The Pit by Campus Police following an incident. According to reports, members of the UNC outdoor recreation program Carolina Adventures had reserved half of The Pit to promote their programs. Shortly after they set up their materials, Gary entered The Pit near their table and began to preach. They asked him to move away from their table, and Birdsong moved to the other side of The Pit. The representatives for Carolina Adventures did not feel this was sufficient and subsequently summoned UNC Police to remove Birdsong from the area. After refusing to move further away, he was removed to loud jeers directed at the police from the crowd that had gathered to watch him preach. A similar incident occurred in the 1980s resulting in his arrest.
Birdsong was issued a trespass warning that prohibited him from entering The Pit for two years. Following the incident he returned to preach, initially in front of Davis Library, about 100 feet from The Pit, and later about 200 feet away, in front of Wilson Library on Polk Place, which he referred to as "the Homo Zone." During this dislocation, he was sometimes referred to as the "adjacent to the Pit preacher". In March 2009, Gary's two year banishment from The Pit expired and he once again returned to preach in The Pit. Some students were glad to see him return to this popular spot after his extended absence, but the overall reaction was mixed. Some disagree with his beliefs, but feel he has a right to be there. Others just find him entertaining.
Birdsong professes to be an ex-Hells Angel, citing that fact multiple times when he is preaching of forgiveness. He claims that his "calling" came to him in the middle of 40 Hells Angels in Durham County in North Carolina.
- "'You're going to hell' say campus preachers". Niner Online. 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- Fornoff, Erin (August 6, 2009). "Gary Birdsong: Preaching to The Converted". The Daily Tarheel. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
- Lopez, Viviana Bonilla (October 21, 2011). "Campus preachers a controversial staple at colleges nationwide". USA Today. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
- "'Pit Preacher' Banned From UNC-Chapel Hill". WRAL.com. 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- "Pit Preacher Moves Off His Stage After Conflict, Appeals Citation". UNC General Alumni Association. March 23, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
- "Pit Preacher returns to campus". The Daily Tar Heel. 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
- "Back in the pit". The Daily Tar Heel. 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
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