Thursday, March 09, 2006

Desperately seeking ... media attention!

Gay Rights Group Targets Christian Colleges
Schools' responses to Soulforce's Equality Ride will vary widely.
by Sarah Pulliam | posted 03/09/2006 09:00 a.m.

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For the next seven weeks, the group Soulforce will test the hospitality of Christian colleges. Some schools have decided withdraw the welcome mat for the national pro-gay activist group, while others are accommodating the protesters with housing and events.

Sixteen Christian colleges are preparing for the uninvited guests from what Soulforce is calling Equality Ride. The seven-week bus tour launching today will take 35 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and straight 18- to 28-year-olds to colleges with behavior codes that Soulforce calls discriminatory.

The religious schools Soulforce is protesting specifically ban homosexual behavior along with other non-marital sexual activity.

Soulforce will visit 12 members and three affiliates of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. CCCU president Bob Andringa told CT he has not seen protests at colleges like this in his 12 years heading the council. "I knew that none of our campuses would welcome that kind of outside [message]: 'We're coming, whether you want us to or not.'"

College presidents "are not afraid of violence, but more afraid of outside organizations intercepting [the protesters] on or near the campus," Andringa said. "Christians who are anti-gay will try to confront the riders, and that may cause unanticipated conflict."

Each college is taking a different approach. Some colleges are not allowing Soulforce on their campuses. Others are permitting the riders to hold panel discussions. One college is paying for the group to stay in a hotel, and another college is inviting them into their homes. Andringa said the CCCU is not recommending any particular approach to the schools.

"They would love to have good dialogue, but I think they fear the motivations of some of the riders that will be visiting the campus," he said. The protesters, he said, "may be looking for confrontation, even arrest, in order to get media attention. … Our hope would be that they would keep it an educational visit."

In addition to demonstrations at colleges, Soulforce will hold a March 31 rally at the CCCU's International Forum in Dallas, Texas.

"I understand they received a permit to have a demonstration just outside the hotel's property, and that would be fine," Andringa said. "If they wanted to register a few people to attend our forum, they could do that. If Equality Ride wants to schedule a dialogue, we would make an announcement, and those interested could go to a site nearby that they arrange."

Seeking media attention
Equality Ride leader Jacob Reitan said one goal is to raise public awareness of the colleges' policies by using the media.

"We also hope to send out a clear message to gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender students that God loves them as they are," Reitan said. "Today, it's gay and lesbian people who are the outcasts of the church, and later the church will have to repent from it."

The article is at Christianity Today.


Anonymous said...

A followup from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Falwell's school thwarts gay protesters
24 participants on the Equality Ride for gay rights were arrested at Liberty University in Virginia. Riders said it won't stop their journey...

Read entire article

Norsk said...

Didn't make the CT article, but a very unfortunate aspect of this story is that the activists met to receive their "non-violence training" at an ELCA congregation in Washington DC (Luther Place Memorial Church, in the DuPont Circle neighborhood).

Which prompts so many questions, such as:
- Why do supposed Christians need training in non-violence?
- Why is a supposedly Christian congregation promoting trespassing and civil disobedience on the property of other Christian religious institutions?

and so many more...

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...