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Evangelist stirs debate on politics, religion

Ashley Womble
Staff Writer

Campus evangelist Tom Short sparked a heated religious debate Tuesday at the campus green outside the Business Administration Building when he tried to share the gospel with hundreds of NT students.

Short, a traveling apologist from Columbus, Ohio, came to the NT campus to preach on behalf of Great Compassion Ministries [sic].

“Tom Short is an apologist, which means that he gives the defense of Christian faith,” said Susan Bulinger, a spokeswoman for Hope Campus Fellowship, which sponsored the demonstration.

Some students, including Brian Harvey, Lubbock junior, said they saw Short as an ignorant, hateful man.

"He was saying how Muslims are evil, violent people and that Christians are good," Harvey said.

Short said his main purpose was to turn students to Christ. “My ultimate desire is to show that Jesus Christ and the Bible are the true and right way and we should turn to Christ,” Short said.

Short said Islam and Christ were the main topics that he discussed Tuesday.

“We had difficulty moving past that,” Short said. He spent much of the time explaining the stark differences between the Quran and the Bible.

Many Muslim students said they didn't see the comparison.

"The fundamentals of Islam and Christianity are similar," Shoaib Makani, Austin sophomore, said.

Adilah al-Amin, Cleveland sophomore, agrees the religions are similar.

"Religions teach peace," al-Amin said. Most students said they opposed Short’s views, especially his views on political matters.

“He was trying to make an argument about religion but he veered off into politics,” Charalabos Kalpakidis, a graduate student from Germany, said.

“There are no justifications for those actions on Sept. 11. Those actions were not activated by any religion, but by U.S. foreign policy.”

Kalapakidis said Short contradicted himself several times while comparing the Quran and the Bible.

Although politics were a heavy topic at the presentation, Jatin Patel, Hope Campus Fellowship off-campus advisor, said Short only discusses what students are concerned with.

“[Short] normally stays pretty far away from politics. Since Sept. 11, politics have been on students’ minds, and if that’s a concern, he will discuss it,” Patel said.

Short said he has noticed a change in the direction of his discussions since Sept. 11.

“Since Sept. 11, I’ve seen bigger crowds than usual. More people are anxious to listen,” Short said. “But I’m not sure that I’ve seen a whole lot more students come to Christ.”

Some students, such as Valley View senior Andy Hogue, agreed with Short.

“I think that Tom Short is speaking the truth, but he uses a lot of words that the Bible says, and people have been taught by television that these words are hateful,” Hogue said.

Hogue said he was impressed that unlike many evangelists, Short welcomed questions from students.

“He’s allowing people in the group to ask questions, and all people can do is ridicule him,” Hogue said.

Short has preached to college students across the nation for more than 20 years.

Although he has been to NT before, Short said he feels that he was most visible to students this visit.

“The university had some very restricting free speech rules prior to this semester,” Short said.

“I think that by the end of the day, people were talking about Christ, whether they agreed with me or not,” Short said.

“I think that now that I’ve got people’s attention I’d like to focus more on Christianity.”

The demonstration continues today from noon to 5 p.m.

Daily Reporter Stephanie White contributed to this report.

North Texas Daily, November 6th, 2001