By now, if you attend Penn State University, you are familiar with the man in the red shirt or sweatshirt that stands outside of the Willard Building usually yelling something that gets the crowd around him talking. Not ringing a bell? Well, that would be the Willard Preacher.
This has been an ongoing thing at Penn State as the Willard Preacher debates with students and other people everyday about controversial topics. Since 1982, the Willard Preacher has been out there just about everyday. His real name is Gary Cattell, and he has an interesting backstory.
In the past, he used to work with children with severe mental needs. He found that preaching, teaching children and raising a family with his wife left him with little to no free time and was not an ideal way to live his life. Therefore, he dropped teaching and now preaches full-time everyday outside of Willard as well as handles his marriage and children.
He plans his topics according to what is going on around campus or what day of the week it is. For example, on Thursdays and Fridays since those are well known “partying” days of the week, he will bring up topics of drinking and “getting laid.”
In the past he has been found to bash feminism, which sparked a rise in Penn State’s Academic Women’s Studies Honor Society, Triota, as well as Planned Parenthood Generation Action. They have responded to the Willard Preacher’s rant by handing out nothing other than free condoms.
The Willard Preacher has his own blog where he discusses his disapproval of condoms, saying, “If condoms have not worked in 25 years, during which time we have practically given them away, why do we think if we give it five more years they will?” Cattell offers many more explanations as to why he thinks condoms are a crazy solution to “a lot of our sexually related problems.”
The debate continues each day Cattell is outside of Willard, so you’re sure hear some of it on your way to your 9 a.m. Next time, stop and listen to this iconic part of Penn State culture or even become part of the conversation!