Christianity demonstrator visits campus, met with support and hostility


Pat Koster/The Record

Freshmen psychology major Victoria Jocko sits next to Jim Deferio with opposing signs.

Patrick Koster and Najee Walker

SUNY Buffalo State students gathered outside in the Campbell Student Quad around a man holding a large sign Monday.

The sign was an excerpt from The Bible – Corinthians 6:9 and 10, that listed 10 sins.

Some were debating with him, others might have agreed with him, and some were just observing the whole situation. Some students throughout the day were even reported to have been getting loud enough where UPD had to step in and refrain them and the man from getting any more disruptive. Some other students even opted to spit on the man.

That man was Christianity demonstrator Jim Deferio.

Deferio said this was his sixth or seventh time coming to Buffalo State.

“I started coming here [in] November of 2008,” Deferio said. “I haven’t been here in about two years and I thought I would come again, revisit the campus and talk about Christianity, what God expects from us, and how we have failed God. All of us have failed God including myself.”

Deferio believes that everybody is an equal sinner before God, and that everybody must turn from their sins in order to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Deferio said he had to turn away from his sins, and that he had committed about six of the ten listed on his sign.

Some of the sins listed were having sex out of wedlock, having wrong sex, and praying to “false gods”.

In response to Deferio, who was out in the Quad from about 11 a.m. to after 3 p.m., Julia, a sophomore psychology major, was handing out flyers to students titled, “Most Common Same-sex Confusion in the Bible.” The subtitle stated, “The Bible actually contains no word for homosexuality or homosexual,” followed by bullet points of facts to support the argument.

Similarly to Julia, others came to protest the demonstration and brought out signs of their own. One group brought signs reading “I love you no matter what. Spread peace, love and equality. Not Hate.”

“My girlfriend told me he was out here, and she’s the one that printed out these flyers,” Julia said.

Julia’s girlfriend, Sophie, is a sophomore theater major who did the research and made the flyers.

“She went and she did the research and she printed out the flyers and I was like ‘Okay, I’m helping her,’” Julia said. “And this guy told us, he said all of this stuff about Judgment Day is coming and implied that we are going to Hell.

“I believe that God loves everyone. I don’t think that there’s a problem with being gay. He’s comparing [being] gay to bestiality and rape.”

Julia said there was a very big crowd with a lot of people against Deferio’s beliefs early on, but there was also a crowd that supported him. She thought Deferio’s crowd was being peaceful, but said they would yell at people who did not support Deferio’s beliefs whenever they tried to preach their own ideals.

“I think the manner in which he is doing it is very wrong,” Julia said. “He is telling people that they are not living the correct lifestyle. He’s telling people that there is something wrong with them.”

Adam Beaudoin, a graduate education student, had been observing the demonstration for about a half hour. He thought it was okay for Deferio to be on campus and for students to be debating with him.

“Yeah, it’s okay,” Beaudoin said. “The only problem I have is for the students who want to refute him, I think they need to be more educated because they come off just as, I don’t want to say ignorant, but they come across as, you know, not knowing as much as he does. Some people are refuting him, and they don’t have the facts either. I think we need more knowledgeable people.”

An additional response from Tyler Kruse, a junior biology major, thought that his background in biology gave him somewhat of a need to speak up.

“One of the things that really got to me is his views on evolution and homosexuality,” Kruse said. “He knew a little bit about science, but I could tell some of it was made up.” Kruse said that despite this being a country where you are free to speak your mind, Deferio was “telling people it is wrong to be gay”.

Deferio is a non-denominational born again Christian from Syracuse, NY, who was not affiliated with any religious groups at the time of the demonstration. In the past, Deferio has come with other people.

He doesn’t have to notify University Police when he is coming, but as a courtesy, Deferio said, he did notify UPD prior to his demonstration and gave them his driver license.

Doing these demonstrations, Deferio has certain requirements to abide by. He cannot impede student traffic, stop or single any people out, use obscenities or get too loud.

“Earlier, it got a little bit loud because some students were absolutely screaming at me, and then somebody asked a question and I’m trying to answer the question, and I can’t be heard so I had to speak up,” Deferio said during his demonstration. “Well, the police officer came and he told some of the people, he says, ‘You need to keep it down to a normal voice’ and he says, ‘You also, you agreed to a normal voice.’”

“I don’t know,” Julia said. “I don’t like that people are allowed to come onto this campus and tell us that we are not human beings; that we are bad people because we love people.”


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