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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Sister Cindy doesn’t deserve your attention — ironic or not

The street preacher turned malicious TikTok star makes plans to visit UF

Last week, Sister Cindy stood in front of a crowd outside UCF's reflecting pond and spewed her usual vitriol. 

Like any other day on Cindy’s “tour,” students ate it up. People recorded and posted to social media, arguing with her, jokingly agreeing with her — all for the satisfaction of poking the wiry, unhinged, emotionally unstable bear. 

And as much as I’d like to pretend this isn’t true, Sister Cindy was once a journalism student at UF. At one point, she even worked for The Alligator. 

On her husband’s website, she shares unfounded lies about our school, shaming our students and putting down the college in general. She also tries to relate to students with the claim that she was once “a bad girl at the University of Florida.”

Now, she’s threatening to come back, and she may even be here today.

Common themes for Cindy’s speeches include slut shaming, homophobic comments and racist remarks. She became famous by sharing her problematic beliefs on TikTok, and her hateful speeches have grown into a full-blown national tour. 

And really, I get it — when she’s standing outside with her phone clenched tightly in her waving fist, screaming about things that don’t really make any sense at all, it’s kind of hard not to watch. It might even be cathartic to argue with her. Even if I know it’s not productive, it might feel good to fight Hellfire with facts, to try to make Cindy feel bad for what she’s doing, to laugh at her. 

But that’s exactly what she wants. 

Because in her eyes, any engagement or ironic support of Sister Cindy is still support. In a world where clicks, follows and likes amass fortunes, she and her team don’t really care if you’re joking when you praise her. In fact, they rely on it. 

Even Cindy has acknowledged that the way she presents her content is satirical. But she also claims “she is presenting what she believes to be the truth.”

Young people have made her a celebrity, and she’ll stay that way as long as we keep showing up. Cindy has a TikTok account with almost 400,000 followers and nearly six million likes, a cameo account where she’s paid to hate and an Instagram where students beg her to preach at their schools. 

It’s common to see street preachers at colleges like UF. In fact, we see (less famous) preachers gather at Turlington PlazaHall pretty often. And due to the property including many (even limited) “public forums,” they’re allowed to stay there. But not all of them are like Cindy.

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If you feel like you have to show up and laugh, I can’t stop you. I can’t even blame you for feeling that way because I’m tempted, too. But before you post her words, support her (even ironically), give her a platform — remember this woman’s claim to fame is rhetoric that hurts people. It’s a privilege to only see her comments as a joke, to be unaffected by their results. 

Don’t be the soapbox that Cindy stands on to spew misogyny, racism and homophobia. She doesn’t deserve a place at our school. 

She doesn’t deserve the attention of real Florida Gators. 

Sara Lindsay is the Spring 2022 Opinions Editor for The Alligator and a senior journalism major. She is currently a Pulitzer Fellow at the CJC and spends her free time at the park with her dog Sequoia. 

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