Fighting Hate with Operation Ruby Gloom

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If one ever goes to IUPUI during autumn, they may notice clusters of students gathered around a man or woman billowing the Gospel at the top of their lungs. These people, known as “hate preachers,” are highly conservative Christians that could be classified as extremists, ranting about matters such as premarital intercourse causing AIDS and demons being “body-snatchers.”

In the midst of all of this, however, there is always the same undertone: anyone who isn't a straight Christian is doomed to eternal damnation unless converted to the same ideology as the preachers.

Recently, beginning as far back as 2016, groups of students have been creating counter-protests against these “hate preachers,” with peaceful and often comedic methods.

An example would be when, in 2016, the Westboro Baptist Church were on campus, causing immediate disgust. As time though, there began a small band of students who countered the church's negativity through a rather odd method: a giant dance party directly across from the preachers.

The protest, directing attention away from Westboro's representatives, caused them to leave campus early. This movement alone, according to Operation Ruby Gloom’s founder Allison McClain, would spark an idea to create an organized movement of counter protesters against “hate preachers.”

This movement, established on Oct. 4, would become known as Operation Ruby Gloom.

When asked how the group counters the preachers, McClain said they either peacefully debate or use more comedic measures.

"We're combating fear with fun," McClain said.

As an example, McClain said that the group uses "preacher bingo" based on key terms the preachers use.

In another case, "A prominent member of the group showed up with his trumpet and began playing the Mii Channel theme."

When asked if the group has been supported by the campus and communities of IUPUI, McClain responded, “The vast majority of group members are people I have met at the LGBTQ+ Center, the straight, cis group members are mostly Christians who feel that the preachers inaccurately and badly portray Christianity.”

McClain continued, “I think it comes down to the individual more than anything and the factors surrounding the individual.”

McClain noted the lack of "hate preachers" visiting campus recently, but concluded, “We're keeping a lookout for the odd winter preacher, and bouncing ideas back and to each other.”

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