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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Creationist exhibit on Plaza of the Americas causes controversy

<p>Preacher Tom Short talks to students about religion on the Plaza of the Americas on Monday afternoon. Students of different beliefs gathered to listen and debate.</p>

Preacher Tom Short talks to students about religion on the Plaza of the Americas on Monday afternoon. Students of different beliefs gathered to listen and debate.

Ten-foot tall posters displaying creationist beliefs stirred up controversy on the Plaza of the Americas on Monday and left many students arguing.

The display was part of a three-day exhibit by traveling pastor Tom Short, said Megan Lisle, an 18-year-old UF anthropology freshman and member of Gator Christian Life, which helped bring Short to UF.

She said Short has been a fixture at UF every semester for years, but this is his first time using the posters.

Each day has a theme, starting with the validity of the Bible on Friday, creationism on Monday and the life of Jesus today.

Lisle said she thinks the posters are a positive addition to Short’s campaign because of their convenience.

“You can just read it,” she said. “You don’t have to stay for hours and listen to him.”

Megan Anderson, a 22-year-old University of North Florida elementary education junior, took a semester off to intern with Short. She said the mission was to spread the creationist point of view, “because you aren’t taught that in school.”

Dan Miner, an 18-year-old UF aerospace engineering freshman, said that although he’s a Christian, he doesn’t believe sermons like this will do much to change minds.

“Large groups like this, it’s just reinforcement of what you already believe,” he said. “There’s such a polarization of belief.”

Tahlia Demaio, a 25-year-old UF astrophysics graduate student, said the posters made her sick to her stomach.

“We’re in front of a library, where’s there’s fact and truth and knowledge,” she said. “Creationism is wrong. It is a belief. It is not fact, and it shouldn’t be in front of a library.”

A version of this story ran on page 8 on 11/19/2013 under the headline "Creationist exhibit causes controversy"

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Preacher Tom Short talks to students about religion on the Plaza of the Americas on Monday afternoon. Students of different beliefs gathered to listen and debate.

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