The group had approval to visit campus through the Office of Religious Life, provided they did not approach or pressure students.
The Rev. Dr. Charles Neff, vice president for university-church relations, sent an email informing the campus community about their presence Oct. 10.
In the email, he wrote that the men would greet students and offer them a free pocket New Testament. Neff encouraged students in the email to “be respectful, take one if you wish to, ask questions if you have any, or simply say, ‘No thank you,’ or ‘I already have one.’”
Neff said he received reports later that day of the Gideon members removing a sign advertising a National Coming Out Day event Oct. 11 in Alvin’s Cafe in Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center. The Gideon members left campus at their prescribed time, but Neff investigated the matter.
After viewing OCUPD security footage, Neff said officials determined that a student removed the poster, not a campus visitor.
“Further, the footage seems to indicate that the student may have taken the poster because of interest in the event and not out of malice, though this is speculative of course,” Neff said.
Neff said had lunch with the Gideon members and said they “found our students to be very respectful” and “appreciated our gracious hospitality.”
Devaunjue Williams, religion sophomore, said he felt disgusted when he heard the rumor about Christians spreading hate, but is proud to attend a university that celebrates diversity.
“It’s a safe place for students to be their authentic selves,” Williams said. “We will not let anyone take that away from us.”
Cami Grindal, acting senior, said she is a Christian and feels saddened that it’s so easy to believe a Christian group would so something hateful like tear down an LGBT poster.
“It’s our job as Christians to love,” Grindal said. “Yes, we do have different opinions on things, but more importantly, God calls us to love.”