SMUT

Playboy, Penthouse and other adult magazines were exchanged for Bibles, Torahs, Korans, and other religious texts at the annual Smut for Smut event hosted by the UTSA Atheist Agenda on March 1.

A screaming, singing throng of UTSA students circled around the steps running from the JPL to the MS, anchored to a small booth offering the strange trade as opponents of the Atheist Agenda’s methods gathered in protest.

Atheist Agenda President Carlos Morales said that although pornography is a symbol of misogyny, the bible, too, advocates the mistreatment of women.

Defending the Agenda against accusations of amorality, Morales said, “If they’re defining morality by what it says in the bible, then it’s okay to stone your children; it’s okay to tell women they can’t talk outside the church. I wouldn’t want to live by what they call ‘morality’ in the bible.”

By mid-afternoon, the Atheist Agenda had collected approximately 10 texts.

“People that come over here are worried that they’re going to get harassed. We got all of those in the first 30 minutes, then after [the protest] started people were hesitant,” Morales said.

Early in the afternoon, a crowd of Christian protestors formed denouncing the Smut for Smut campaign. One of the earliest arrivals and most outspoken members of the crowd was St. Mary’s University student Adam Zepada who, for much of the afternoon, danced while wearing a bandana over his face while paraphrasing scripture.

“I saw it on the news on Friday. I came out on Saturday, but they weren’t out here,” Zepada said. “I wanted to call up some homeboys and be like ‘hey dawg, I wanna go up there and take care of it real quick.’ But, because I’m saved and I gave my life to Christ in 2007, I don’t live like that anymore.”

Others among the counter-protestors were less adamant, including Cecilia Tapia, a sophomore psychology major at UTSA. Standing among the crowd, she held up a red copy of the New American Standard version of the bible, which she had no intention of trading in for porn.

“I’m here to make sure they know the word of God,” Tapia said. She added that she believes she was there for both herself and the atheists in the crowd.

“It’s part of my belief; Jesus teaches us that if we do not preach the word of God when someone has entered into our lives, then it’s our fault if he doesn’t enter into heaven because it’s our job as Christians to preach out to everybody else.”

Signs carried above the crowd included messages such as “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus loves the Atheist Agenda,” as well as more simple ones that consisted of nothing more than a penciled peace sign on a scrap of notebook paper. Others began singing hymns, including “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Through the growing wind and threats of rain, the two groups grew larger into the afternoon, and police began maintaining a safety buffer between the two groups. Inside this no-man’s-land, a third party began to form, composed of proclaimed agnostics asking for peace.

“Well, we don’t really believe in either side. We believe both foster hate,” UTSA junior Victoria Arzu said. “They know they’re doing it for show, and they know that either party could be mistaken in their beliefs. We choose an agnostic position because it’s the smartest thing to do.”

“(The Atheist Agenda) is just trying to offend people, (the counter-protesters) are just fighting back,” UTSA student Connor Rehberg said. “It’s just been going on forever.”

Among the agnostics, sophomore Nathalie Tenorio said, “This is absolutely ridiculous. These people have their religious beliefs and that’s fine and everything, and these people have their beliefs as well, but there’s no reason they should be going after each other.”

The crowd was formed: Atheists at the stairs, protestors across the way, and agnostics seated peacefully in the middle.

“You could call it a middle ground,” Tenorio said, “but it’s more of a ground of peace and silence. It’s a ground of love instead of the hate they’re both fostering.”

Michelle Brossart was offended not by the Atheists’ view but by what she saw as their obvious intentions.

“They admitted it’s a publicity stunt. They want to evoke crazy emotions out of people because they want to make their agenda known,” Brossart, a pre-Dental hygiene major, said. “But only very, very few people are actually gaining anything from this.”

Morales said the Bible is problematic.

“It’s an ancient text that condones violence, genocide, misogyny towards women and is almost completely fictional. The Jews were never held by the Egyptians; Noah’s ark never happened. All these things are completely fictional.”

At 3:40 pm, the divided crowd came together on the stairs between the Sombrilla and MS for an open debate between Morales and Kyle Volkmer, one of the Christian protestors. The debate remained civil despite the tension that had been growing throughout the afternoon.

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