Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Equality Ride

Ok, I've weighed in on the implications of the size of President Money's house. Now here's something else that ACU alums might find interesting.



The Equality Ride is an event sponsored by Soulforce, a faith-based organization that promotes civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The Equality Ride is meant to recall the freedom rides of the Civil Rights movement, and will consist of 30 young adults taking a bus tour of the U.S., periodically stopping at a university that has discriminates against students on the basis of their sexuality. When the bus arrives at a university, the riders will have press conferences, meetings and (in the case of Christian schools) Bible studies, all attempting to explain why they think the university's policies are wrong.

ACU administrators are well aware of the upcoming visit - in a recent Chapel talk, Dr. Money told students that the Equality Ride was coming, and he described how he thought ACU students, faculty and staff should behave. Unfortunately, Money and the student body seem to disagree on the proper way to handle the visitors.


MONEY: Now we could tell these people that they're not welcome on our campus, and when they show up, we could call the police and have them arrested.

[The audience cheers and applauds.]

MONEY: Um ... but ... that's not what we want to do.

[Silence. Then a few people clap. One voice yells, "Thank you!"]

Then Money goes on to describe how everyone should behave. (That's just an approximation of the talk, but I'm sure I got every third or fourth word right.)

So from what I hear, the Equality Riders will be allowed on campus, but their movements will be very tightly controlled. They will not be allowed to speak in Chapel, but they will meet with certain administrators. I don't know if they'll have any Bible studies or press conferences on campus, but I'm guessing they'll have a few off-campus.

Their technical gripe, by the way, is the section of the student manual that reads:

2. Section Two violations. These violations will result in a minimum disciplinary response of probation on the first occurrence or suspension/dismissal on the second occurrence, with additional conditions or alternative requirements. They include, but are not limited to, the following: ... 2-14. Cohabitation and/or sexual immorality, including homosexual behavior.


Homosexual behavior, of course, could include quite a bit more than extramarital homosexual sex ... although that's kind of a catch-22, because homosexual marriage is also illegal in Texas ... nevermind.

In general, though, I think the riders object to the theological position that homosexuality is a sin or psychological sickness. They claim that this position is false, but they also say that promoting this opinion fosters discrimination and prevents gay people from coming to terms with their sexual identity.

I'll be posting more about the equality ride in the coming weeks, but I'd kind of like to open the issue right now, and solicit comments from you reader-people. Feel free to say whatever you like. As long as it's not stupid.

Update: I apparently didn't finish that sentence about what they'll do when they arrive at a university. It's finished now.

18 comments:

Matthew said...

Hm. Here's a related blog post.

wayfarersgirl

Matthew said...

And another.

kendallball.net

Ben said...

wow. I wish I could be a fly on the wall at that meeting, or still a student at ACU. My wife and I have been talking about this for a couple of days now. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the group coming to campus, but I do know that I am blown away by the maturity of the administrations response, and saddened (yet not surprised) at the reaction of the student body.

On one hand, homosexuality as a sin, is not cohesive with Christianity. On the other hand, neither are lieing, stealing, promiscuity, pornography, etc., etc. Where and When did Christianity decide that if you struggle with homosexual attraction, then you cannot have a relationship with Christ? For that matter, when did the homosexual community decide that you have to give up your faith or you're not true to yourself?

My freshman year I had a roommate who struggled with looking at porn...on my computer. The student body never would have applauded the idea of throwing him off campus.

I think both communites are at fault for the attitudes they have towards one another. I believe the administration, in allowing the opening of a dialogue, is acting in a manner of peace, respect, and...well...christianity. Lets hope the student body learns a thing or two.

Wow, sorry for the sermon.

A. Lo said...

I don't want to talk about the Equality Ride; I want to talk about the ACU students' response to the Equality Ride via Dr. Money's speech.

I've been contemplating this for at least five minutes, and I believe that I have some very concrete ideas.

First, when did talking about something become so heinous? Is that why a large, vocal majority of the students at chapel wanted to have the riders arrested? What exactly was their motivation?

Second, do they not realize that there is a HUGE underground homosexual population at ACU? That one of the former student body presidents is openly gay? That there were also people in Moody who take this issue (and others' reaction to it) very personally for very good reasons? Or do they just not care?

Third, how would I feel if someone told me that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were coming to my office to talk to the CEO of the Catholic company I work for about implementing anti-homosexual policies (which I know is illegal, but just work with me) or contributing company money to support their work? I might cheer if he suggested having them arrested, but I'd probably just do some inner-cartwheels, instead.

Fourth, props to Dr. Money for inviting conversation.

And most importantly, why does all the cool stuff happen at ACU AFTER I graduate and move away?

Matthew said...

a-lo wrote: Second, do they not realize that there is a HUGE underground homosexual population at ACU?

Maybe they don't. I wonder whether the equality ride will be informative in this respect, or if the homosexual community at ACU will just stay silent?

connor said...

For starters, does anyone else find it funny that the list of schools being visited (at least shown in the image above) is a bunch of christian schools and then you have TAMU. The Corps seems like a good candidate for a huge underground homosexual population.

I think the cheering in chapel has more to do with the culture most of those students are from, i.e. we don't like gays which is a pretty popular culture all over the world. Christianity is just used as a tool to solidify this view. I can't help but think that the largest proportion of the people cheering were males and probably attend church but don't care too much about that whole christian duty stuff.

I'll let the theologians out there fight out the whole sin issue but I'm pretty sure that ACU isn't changing its view about homosexual activity. What I wonder is if they will ever go from talking about "same-sex attraction" to homosexuality. There is the debate for ACU, is it a problem to be changed or the same as my own personal struggle with "opposite-sex attraction."

Kyle said...

I emailed the girl that is incharge of the visit to ACU and she wrote me back very encouraged by the response and welcome spirit that the ACU administration is giving the Equality Ride folk. She seemed rather surprised, actually.

I told her that her bigger hurdle was the student body and while she didn't address this comment in her reply, she has to know that 19 and 20 year olds are going to be bigger jerks than people who are President's and Deans at a 4 Year University, however conservitive the University may be. I've actually been considering going to Abilene just for this event. It would be pretty interesting.

Anonymous said...

#1 - After reading this post, I have to wonder if the author was actually in chapel on the day that Dr. Money spoke. There were equal amounts of clapping/cheering, if not more, when Dr. Money stated they would be welcoming SoulForce. Don't write and say that the only people who were seriously cheering were those who wanted the "riders" arrested and kicked off. It was made very clear that there are just as many students who support their visit as ones who oppose it.

#2 - TAMU is on the list because SoulForce is visiting colleges, universities AND military schools who have policies against homosexual behavior.

#3 - For those of you who feel that this is cool, that you're sad it didn't happen while you were at ACU, and for those who would like to be at ACU to see this...you have no idea what difficult decision this has been for the ACU administration and ACU community. The administration is completely aware of the "underground homosexuality" on campus and is completely aware that ACU had an SA president that is now "out." The bubble is not that thick. Instead of guessing at the facts surrounding these decisions, instead of wishing you were here during this trying time, instead of stating how you would handle these things differently, instead of saying you're dissappointed in the student body...I would encourage you to pray. Pray for those who are making the decisions about SoulForce. Pray for the "riders." Pray for the ACU administration and for the students, faculty, and staff on campus while this is going on. This is not easy, nor is it a show for the ammusement of bloggers.

Matthew said...

ben: I think you say it well, here.

I believe the administration, in allowing the opening of a dialogue, is acting in a manner of peace, respect, and...well...christianity.

a.lo: this is the part that I'm wondering about:

how would I feel if someone told me that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were coming to my office to talk to the CEO of the Catholic company I work for about implementing anti-homosexual policies

Or the KKK about implementing anti-black policies? Would I want the administrators to allow them on campus? I think the answer would have to be: it depends on how we could expect them to behave. If they were going to be hateful and belligerent, I think we could exclude them as not being faithful to the cool, calm approach that reasoned discussion requires. On the other hand, if we expected them to *disrupt* reasoned discussion, I think we would be justified in excluding them.

Matthew said...

anonymous - thanks for your comments. I'll try to address the questions you raise.

After reading this post, I have to wonder if the author was actually in chapel on the day that Dr. Money spoke.

Yeesh. You totally called me on this one. I should have cited my sources.

I was not in Chapel on the day in question. My only information about that talk has come from some (fairly reliable) students and staff members who were there. Since then, I've seen several conflicting versions (such as Dr. Money's comments as quoted in the Optimist) that suggest that the second response was as enthusiastic as the first.

But I suppose that the best way to clear up this issue is to get a tape of the Chapel talk and post the pertinent parts on this blog.

For those of you who feel that this is cool, that you're sad it didn't happen while you were at ACU, and for those who would like to be at ACU to see this...you have no idea what difficult decision this has been for the ACU administration and ACU community ... This is not easy, nor is it a show for the ammusement of bloggers.

I'm sure that you're being completely sincere here, but I have to confess to a little skepticism because you don't give us any explanation. What makes this this such a "difficult decision" and a "trying time"?

I mean, after reading their Web site, and talking to an equality ride coordinator, it seems pretty clear that the riders won't be megaphone-toting belligerents. So it seems to me that in the interest of open discussion, administrators should simply welcome the riders and let them wander the campus. Then people can make their own decisions about whether ACU is upholding Christian values.

But maybe there's something I'm missing?

connor said...

I'm confused... so things that are difficult decisions shouldn't be discussed.

shane said...

This isn’t really a difficult decision at all. The ACU administration and community could tell the people involved in the freedom ride to go away, and watch them protest in front of CNN across the street . . . perhaps with duck tape over their mouths. From a public relations point of view, this is the worse option. From a Christian point of view, they would deny themselves the opportunity to act as Christ might have acted.

Of course this is exciting (cool); don’t be ridiculous. What is the point of perceiving this as a difficult situation at all? A bunch of people, mostly student age, have come to an academic setting to talk about an issue that will become more and more present in our culture and churches, even in West Texas. This is a chance to anticipate, experience, and reflect something important, not be riddled with fear and trepidation.

But here is my question . . . what exactly is the point of the conversation? ACU isn’t going to change policy, right or wrong as it is, especially because a social action group came to campus. I have a feeling SoulForce isn’t going to change their perspective either. Is either group going to really listen to the other? If neither side is willing to honestly concede that there is a possibility they are wrong, is that a conversation?

A. Lo said...

I liked your comments, Shane. I miss your blog.

I have to say, though, that even if the meeting with the Riders isn't a true "conversation," it's the first step on the way to having that conversation. I'm just glad--and surprised--that ACU is willing to start this dialogue.

And I have to say that I think that many, many years in the future, ACU will change its policy. I think we might be dead by then, but I think it could and will happen (it'll just take a lot of baby steps to get there). And this is one milestone on that journey that I am proud to see.

Matthew said...

shane: I'm not sure what the point is. I suspect that, in general, the ACU people want to avoid looking bad and the equality riders want to force people to discuss the issue.

I suppose both sides would like to sway any fence-sitters, but maybe the equality riders are just trying to wedge the issue into public discussion, which over the long term may encourage a change in public sentiment, which in turn may effect a change in policy.

Or maybe they want to send a message to closeted ACU homosexuals: somebody thinks it's OK that you're gay.

Or maybe they just think it's the right thing to do, regardless of outcome.

Just my guesses.

Elohimus Maximus said...

I can't believe that you have time to answer every comment on your site. You are obviously not devoting enough time to Jesus. He told me to tell you not to ignore him. Oh, and in case you were considering commenting on my site. Don’t, my wit and debate skills will crush you into oblivion.
God 1
sinners 0
TCOJCOEMLDS

D Love said...

"Feel free to say whatever you like. As long as it's not stupid." Somebody did not read all the way to the end of the blog to catch this sentence.

Matthew said...

I can't believe that you have time to answer every comment on your site.

Actually, I don't. But because my blog is so edifying, I was recently blessed with the Spiritual Gift of timelessness. This means that whenever I want, I can actually step *outside* of time and respond to comments. That way, time that might have been wasted on blogging is still available for converting the heathens, condemning hypocrites, &tc.

Sadly, though, my Spiritual Gift is turning out to be a bit of a Catch-22, because when you're outside of time, it's hard to do anything ... you know ... sequential. Reading, writing, thinking ... jumping rope, eating a grilled cheese sandwich ... all pretty difficult outside of time. Plus, sometimes being outside of time gets me into trouble with my wife, because she'll asking me to do something, and I won't even be aware of it until I come back into time, and then, darn, it's too late.

Luckily, the effect usually wears off after a couple of hours, and I can function normally again. But if you could talk with the guy in charge and have him fix that little problem, I would be able do a lot more bl ... er ... good deeds. A lot more good deeds.

"Feel free to say whatever you like. As long as it's not stupid." Somebody did not read all the way to the end of the blog to catch this sentence.

Yeah, I probably should have written "As long as it's funny, or not stupid." That would've been better.

Anonymous said...

Soulforce has come and gone. And from my perspective both "sides" were blessed in an unexpected way. During a session called "Letters to Mel," students talked about what they'd learned from the visit. The Soulforce riders focused on the goodness/kindness of the people they'd met. They'd discussions with people who disagreed with them on a fundamental issue affecting their lives; yet, the discussions were conducted in a such a way that they felt affirmed as people. "I've made new friends." was one riders comment. "I didn't think that could happen here." On the ACU side, for those who cared enough to listen, they learned just how much pain has been piled on these young men and women. And for some of them, it's a lot of emotional pain. As I listened, I thought of Jeremiah and wondered, do our hearts break? Do we grieve for the struggles and sins of others? Are we content to watch from a cynical, safe distance in a critique of another's struggle - - never noticing that our own struggles will overwhelm us. Sorry, that really was preachy.