If you’ve passed through the Diag this week, you may have noticed both local and traveling evangelists attempting to spread their beliefs to anyone willing to listen.
Some students ignore the preaching, some are offended, others are amused and a few see street preacher season as an opportunity for fun. Alex Kostrzewa is one of those few.
Known around campus for dressing up as Jesus and arguing the merits of Greek mythology with preachers like Brother Jed Smock, Kostrzewa tries to inject humor into the tension that can develop between the speakers and students.
The RC senior said his interactions with the evangelists are “improvised public theatre,” and insists he isn’t trying to drive them away.
“It’s fun,” he said.
Kostrzewa, a self-described agnostic, said he isn’t opposed to organized religion.
He said all of his actions — from dressing up as Jesus and preaching forgiveness and love on the Diag to debating preacher Michael Venyah by speaking through a sock puppet — are intended to “put forth a more positive version of Christianity.”
After engaging the Diag preachers in theological debate and providing an undeniable degree of silliness over the last three years, Kostrzewa has noticed an interesting trend among students who stop to listen to them. He said he noticed that people who are familiar with the Bible tend to be more offended by the preachers than people who are not because the students believe the preachers function as “anti-advertising for what they’re trying to spread.”
Although Kostrzewa may oppose what the preachers are saying, he believes firmly in their right to say it.
“People taking stuff seriously is dangerous,” he said.
Street preacher season is drawing to a close in Ann Arbor, but Kostrzewa said he plans to push through to the end by appearing on the Diag the rest of this week. While he could not say for sure what antics he has planned, he hinted at the possibility of another sock puppet debate with Michael Venyah or even doing his own preaching on the Diag, espousing the virtues of Norse mythology.