Those now-familiar blue and gold T-shirts have finally been retired to laundry hampers. The “I Agree With Dave” campaign culminated Friday with a rally on Cross Campus.
The rally, a venture of six Yale Christian organizations, featured the testimony of Dave Farrell ’03, the face attached to a week-long campaign that organizers said was aimed at engaging Yalies in a dialogue about Jesus Christ. More than a hundred devout Christian students and curious onlookers attended the event on the steps of Sterling Memorial Library, while a few students from the Yale College Humanists and Secularists wore signs expressing their displeasure with the “I Agree With Dave” campaign.
Farrell told the crowd about the struggle which led to his rediscovery of God — only the second time Farrell publicly shared his story.
Farrell, who grew up in Tennessee in a religious family, said he decided in middle school that religion was not for him.
“I would go through my days and nights and not think about Jesus and it was OK by me.” Farrell said. “I was fine.”
But sophomore year, “God put something in my life to make me rethink that conception,” and that something was his mother’s battle with alcoholism, he said.
Farrell said that in order to get out of his house and away from his mother, he attended Bible study groups and church retreats, which led him back to Christianity. His religious devotion gave him the strength to help his mother fight her alcoholism, and as a result she has been sober for four years, he said.
“I guess the moral is that God puts things in our lives to remind us of him, and I pray and beg that you won’t turn away from these signs,” Farrell said.
Farrell then received a giant hug in front of the crowd from his mother, who traveled from Nashville to hear her son’s testimony.
The event was the end of a week-long campaign aimed to “regain Yale for Jesus Christ,” said Taylor Larson ’04, a member of Yale Students for Christ.
“I Agree With Dave” buttons emerged around campus Monday, with a three-day T-shirt wearing campaign beginning a day later. Table tents, posters and newspaper advertisements also promoted the campaign.
The campaign also sparked discussion about the mysterious Dave, and why he was used as a symbol.
“Dave is just a normal guy,” said Marianne Montalvo ’02 after the official disclosing of Dave’s identity at the rally. “I mean, he’s a nice guy, but he’s a normal guy like any of us [Christians].”
Bryan Freeman ’03, a member of Athletes in Action, said the event was neither an attempt to glorify Dave nor promote any sort of cult activity, but not everyone agreed.
David Korn ’03 looked like anyone else in the crowd Friday, except for the neon pink sign taped onto his stomach that read, “Save me Dave or I will burn.”
Korn, along with Rupa Bhattacharya ’03, represented the Yale College Humanists and Secularists. They wanted to “let people who don’t agree with Dave know that Christians aren’t taking over,” Korn said.
Bhattacharya plastered posters with slogans such as, “Could Dave Be Wrong?” throughout the week, but she said they were quickly torn down.
Bhattacharya said the Dave-centered “propaganda campaign” was condescending to Yalies, who are intelligent and experienced enough to have already decided what to believe.
But Freeman said the “I Agree With Dave” campaign was not meant to force people to agree.
“We’re just encouraging them to investigate,” he said.
Most said they thought the “I Agree With Dave” campaign was a success.
Adam Johnson ’04, a Yale Students for Christ member, said he has not heard so much talk about Christianity on campus all year.
Johnson said he was approached by curious students about his T-shirt and beliefs “billions of times.”
Erin East ’04, another member of Yale Students for Christ, said she got to share her views with everyone from her chemistry professor to Linda, a “flower lady.” By the end of the week, Linda too wore one of the blue and gold T-shirts, East said.
The rally also featured musical performances by Living Water and Lost and Found.