OPINION: Sister Cindy: Hardly a preacher, certainly an entertainer

Sister Cindy faces a population resistant to religious conversion, but she will nonetheless be admired for her entertainment. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Christian campus preacher Cindy Smock, commonly known as “Sister Cindy,” visited USF Jan. 18-20. As popular figures on TikTok, Sister Cindy and her husband “Brother Jed” have attracted a fan base of young adults with their uncensored monologues on dating and religion.

As she continues her nationwide journey, the lack of overwhelming religiosity among students will shape Sister Cindy into a new symbol of entertainment: radically unorthodox faith.

Compared to older generations, the younger generation diverges further away from religion. Sister Cindy preaches to a student population that won’t seem to budge on religion, and despite her intentions, she will remain a faithful entertainer at most.

Sister Cindy uses her own story to try to convert college students to devout Christians. At campuses across the country, she calls herself a “HO NO MO,” a reference to her departure from her wild days at UF, according to her husband Jed’s website. On Jan. 18, she hosted a “s— shaming” event at the MSC, an effort to shame college girls for dressing inappropriately.

But research shows that Sister Cindy’s speeches are falling on the ears of an increasingly resistant generation.

Only 36% of millennials were members of a church from 2018-20. In Sister Cindy’s generation, the baby boomers, 58% were affiliated with a church during the same timeframe. Overall, church membership in the U.S. dropped below 50% in 2020 for the first time in 80 years, according to a 2021 Gallup poll.

Sister Cindy doesn’t speak to the religious values of her target audience, but she is undeniably entertaining, and she certainly captivated USF students.

It didn’t take long for USF students to show support for her speeches with signs like “Sister Cindy S— Shame Me” and “USF [loves] Sister Cindy.”

When Sister Cindy posted videos from her USF events on her TikTok account, which now has over 367,000 followers, the comments were flooded with love and brutal honesty.

“You [know] people are just interacting with [you] to make fun of you,” commented @4rouv on a post from Jan. 23. The comment prompted a response from Sister Cindy herself, “I used to make fun too.”

Whether in naivety or unwavering optimism, Sister Cindy will continue to preach on college campuses in an effort to reshape the religious foundation of young people. And for now, she may not see great success in her goals.

Her unpredictable and vulgar remarks may not be appreciated by all, but among a generation which has shown great support for her presence on campus, she is most definitely welcome.

Sister Cindy, we may not share the same religion, but you have our undivided attention.