Police intervene in religious demonstrators' presentation

The Office of the Dean of Students called University Police to intervene when passers-by complained of disruptive behavior from religious demonstrators on Grounds Monday morning.

University Police ordered the group to relocate, to not block the pathways and to tone down their demonstrations.

The demonstrators, all members of the Woroniecki family, held large canvas posters bearing religious slogans such as, "SATAN RULES! TURN TO JESUS NOT 'CHURCH'!", handed out flyers, and shouted messages of a similar nature.

"You're cowards," Elizabeth Woroniecki, 21, yelled at students. "This flood, do you think that's a coincidence? You're going to hell."

The Woronieckis demonstrated for several hours before University Police confronted them in response to the complaint made by Dean of Students Penny Rue.

University officials reserve the right to regulate certain forms of demonstrations, University Police Sgt. Melissa Fielding said. Police intervene when someone is acting in a manner that is threatening, intimidating, obstructive or disruptive.

One officer ordered Elizabeth Woroniecki to obtain written permission to demonstrate from the Dean of Students, but this permission was not actually needed.

"These people did not need written permission to exercise their First Amendment rights," Rue said.

The Woronieckis said they have toured college campuses throughout the United States, Europe, Morocco and Central America for over 30 years preaching their message.

"You're going to hell," Mike Woroniecki, the father of the family, told the officers and students. "If you're not going to hell, I'm a fool. If there is a hell, I'm the most loving man in the world for telling you."

When not preaching, Mike Woroniecki said the family finances its trips from earnings at part-time jobs at Chuck-E-Cheese and Home Depot.

Woroniecki said he first found God as a football player for Central Michigan College.

"I was macho," Mike Woroniecki said. "I was tough. Then I kept getting injured, and I went to a conference at the College of Notre Dame and started reading the New Testament and wondering about the meaning of my life."

He said he later entered a Catholic seminary to become a Franciscan monk but quickly became disillusioned with what he called "the hypocrisy of the system."

"Church is a system," he said. "You're not a system, you're a person. You're just spouting all that religious crap."

The Woronieckis marched to the parking lot behind Bryan Hall, to a shiny white pick-up truck with a Las Vegas license plate holder.

Students said they were frustrated with the Woronieckis' dismissive attitude.

"Part of me agrees with what they're saying," third-year College student Alexandria Hawkins said. "But that's not the way you approach people. They're the brick wall. They're trying to call you to open your mind, but they shut you out."

The Woronieckis said they felt they had achieved their mission.

"We got through," Elizabeth Woronieckis said. "They heard us."

Some students said despite a negative reaction from some passers-by, there may be an upside to the display.

"I think this will spark a lot of discussion around Grounds," fourth-year College student Simone Grant said.

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