News Articles

Campus protests ‘a matter of hatred,’ says Messianic Fellowship leader

Protesters at Columbia University's Hamilton Hall prepare for police to move in on April 30. Screen grab from CNN

NASHVILLE (BP) — “This is Satanic. This is evil.”

Ric Worshill takes a break from working on his camper – “I’m going to need it when Disaster Relief calls,” he said. – and thinks about the spread of antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world. He’s heard the chants of “From the River to the Sea” that have appeared in campus protests around the country, essentially calling for the elimination of Israel and Palestine’s spread from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. He sees it, but has a hard time believing it.

Protest leaders claim the focus is on stopping Israel’s military response in Gaza, where the death count has surpassed 34,000 by some estimations. Those leaders have little to say when approached by reporters on thoughts related to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that resulted in the murder of more than 1,100 Israelis and 240 taken hostage. 

New York police enter through a window of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University on April 30 to remove protesters. Screen grab from CNN

The heavy dose of antisemitism coursing through the protests bothers Worshill, as one expects it would of the president of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship (SBMF).

“It’s rising every day in almost every country,” he told Baptist Press. “As for the young people on these campuses, I don’t think they have a clue who they’re supporting, what they’re supporting or why they’re supporting it. If they knew the truth about Oct. 7, they would be horrified.”

Hamas soldiers recorded their Oct. 7 attacks such as rapes and the slaughter of families, freely sharing them with friends and relatives. Several of those videos have made their way to Worshill from Arab friends.

“They said to me, ‘This is not us. There will be judgement for this. Please forgive us,’” he said.

A police veteran with 31 years on the force, Worshill has seen a lot of rough things, a lot of ways that people do inhumane things to each other.

“I watched those videos for a while and had to stop,” he said. “It was too horrific. I can’t understand how anyone could hate somebody so much to do those things to someone.

“And then these kids on campus – and even some older people – are sponsoring that kind of conduct. It’s unconscionable. My Jewish friends are afraid to go out of their houses.”

About 300 people were arrested at Columbia University and City College of New York overnight, Mayor Eric Adams said in a news conference today (May 1). Fights broke out at UCLA, as students at more than a dozen California universities have set up encampments.

Colleges have taken different tactics in dealing with protests. The University of Florida issued a statement that its campus “is not a daycare” after protesters remained for days and vowed that violators would be arrested, suspended or banished from campus for three years. Meanwhile, Northwestern and Brown reached agreements with protestors that brought scholarships to Palestinian undergraduates and a divestment resolution being put up for a vote.

On April 30, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) announced an investigation into the federal funding for universities where protests have taken place.

“Antisemitism is a virus,” Johnson said. “And because the administrations and woke university presidents aren’t stepping in, we’re seeing it spread.”

Referring to protesters as “terrorist sympathizers,” Johnson spoke on Jewish university students fearful to be on campus.

“It’s not right, and everybody in this country knows it,” he said.

The protests reflect the opinion of a significant minority of Gen Z voters, according to a recent online survey.

One-third of U.S. voters aged 18-24 do not believe Israel has a right to exist as a nation in the Middle East, it said, compared to 10 percent of all voters. Gen Z voters also were significantly less likely to view Hamas as a terrorist organization, which it was named by the U.S. State Department in 1997.

Worshill has been contacted by numerous friends expressing their continued prayer for him, the ministry he leads and Israel.

“It’s really encouraging,” he said. “We need to be praying, first of all, for the peace of Jerusalem – Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim – and for those people in Israel who don’t know Jesus.”

Turning back to the protesters, he noted that “our battle is not with people.”

“It’s the principalities and the powers of darkness,” he said. “The sad part is there’s a lot of people who are literally drowning in evil. I think that’s what’s happening here.

“It’s more than just a hatred of Jews and Israel. It’s just a matter of hatred. Period.”