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By BEN BRUHNKE beb011@latech



Love and hate. These words have bombarded campus for the past two weeks in the forms of small signs, giant billboards and an Internet community blog, which have all aroused an array of curiosity, speculation and scrutiny.

The Baptist Collegiate Ministry, with assistance from Temple Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Cook Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church, is the creator of the Love/Hate campaign that has swept the campus.

Linda Osborne, director of the BCM, said one main focus of the campaign is about building a bridge of understanding between all students.

“So many people have embraced this idea, not knowing what they’ve embraced, and others have ridiculed it, not knowing what they are ridiculing,” Osborne said. “They got the idea, and didn’t even realize it.”

Osborne said another point of the campaign is to acknowledge and apologize for the faults and misinterpretations of Christianity.

“If we’ve offended anyone on campus over the years, we want to say we’re sorry and do our best to change people’s negative views of Christianity,” Osborne said.

“No one likes or wants to be judged by someone who is just as guilty as they are. Our message is that we’re not here to tell people, ‘You’re going to hell,’ but we’re here to tell people, ‘Hey, we’re just like you.’”

Osborne said she wants people to realize that Christians are not perfect.

“Hypocrisy is a part of life; we all do it, and all people hear from Christians are excuses, excuses, excuses,” Osborne said. “Christians don’t have a ‘pass go’ on being wrong, and we want people to know we are no better than anyone else.”

The idea for the campaign was inspired by the Donald Miller book, “Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.”

Osborne said the first stage of the campaign was placing the small love/hate signs all over campus to “start debate” and make students try to figure out what the signs were all about.

“It seems that most people saw the signs as a nuisance at first,” Osborne said. “But people are scratching their heads, asking questions most would never ask before, and that’s a great thing. The point is that we are all communicating and attempting to understand one another.”

The second stage of the campaign was the opening of the Internet blog, which allowed students to post their views on a variety of topics, such as government, work, church, religion, dating, friends, class, college, family, Christianity and money.

“I’m amazed by the responses from everyone. There have been people who have said some very deep, amazing things. It’s overwhelming to see the passion people put into them,” she said.

The third stage was placing the giant billboards, with the same topics from the blog, in Tolliver Hall and the Student Center.

Donald Page, a senior photography major, said he was amazed at how fast people responded to the boards.

“The things that have been written on these boards are not really a shock, but more of an eye-opening experience for [me],” Page said. “It’s good for Christians to realize that there is a campus that thinks much differently than we do, and it’s been a good opportunity for us to respond and say, ‘We hear you, we understand you and we don’t hate you for it.’”

The final stage consisted of BCM members taking the boards back, reading them and responding as Christians to all the negative comments made by students on the boards and blog. Each BCM member wrote a handwritten apology on several long sheets that now hang all over campus and signed his or her name to the comment made.

Page said he is looking forward to responding to the comments.

“Some of the messages that were written were funny, but so many others that were written were really heartfelt,” Page said.

“There has been a lot of response about Christians being hypocrites, and they’re right. A lot of times we ignore the faults of Christians [and] the faults of the church; these boards have made it to where we can’t ignore.”

Mary Margaret Kilger, a sophomore English major, said responding to the comments on the boards and blog has been  humbling.

“People’s first reactions seem to be really more about complaining, which isn’t a bad thing,” Kilger said. “Some things people are saying are really depressing, and my heart goes out to them. But I’m glad to see that people are talking about their issues, not just on these boards, but with each other. I hate the idea that we are all so divided over things that can be so frivolous; there’s more that unites us than divides us.”

In addition to the response, each BCM member wore a love/hate shirt this week in order to “put a face to the sign” for others.

“I want others to realize that we are not that different, and we agree a lot about politics, religion and class. I don’t want this place to be LSU-R either,” Page said.

Page said this experience has made him more open-minded to the perspectives of others.

“It was hard to read and see how people were dealing with really hard issues. It broke me to think that people felt so alone and isolated, so to develop compassion has been my biggest growth.”

According to Osborne, the University of Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge have shown interest in adopting the program after the conclusion of this one.

“I think this campaign could work anywhere,” Osborne said. “It would be amazing to one day compare our love/hate campaign to another one on the East or West Coasts.”

Osborne said this program has not only made her a better Christian, but a better person as well. She also hopes this program will continue to touch people’s lives long after it is over.

“It’s been a very powerful experience to drop my pride and put my heart into responding to others,” Osborne said. “Listening to the different opinions has helped make us stronger believers because we are now more open. When you can finally stop staring at the flaws of others and see the flaws in [yourself], you can only become stronger.”

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