By Daniel Johnson-Kim, Sports Editor
I almost forgot about them.
It has been a little more than a year since Soulforce, the gay and lesbian group devoted to fighting religious and political oppression through non-violence, came to this university in March 2006, and it took a washingtonpost.com video to bring them back into my life.
The video was a profile of Soulforce participants recent stop on their 2007 Equality Ride to Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va.
And the welcome they received wasn’t warm but familiar.
The group was immediately barred from the campus like they have been from the majority of professed Christian institutions they visit – only four Christian universities have allowed them on campus, including ACU – but that did not stop them from trying to get their message across.
The activists staked out a piece of land steps away from the university’s property line and stood in silence with signs pleading for understanding and questioning the university’s policy on homosexuality. They used their constitutional right to peacefully protest and stood in silence because Patrick Henry denied them the one thing they desired: non-confrontational dialogue with students.
A few of the activists were arrested for passing out fliers to students exiting the campus, and a few of the activists showed expressions of disappointment from the calloused and closed response they received from Patrick Henry. And by the end of the video, I shared their disappointment.
What are Patrick Henry and the other hardhearted Christian institutions of higher education afraid of? And how are they helping the hypocritical image that this country has towards Christians?
Patrick Henry’s mission statement claims to “prepare Christian men and women” to lead the nation and “shape our culture.” But its reaction to the Soulforce visit ruined an opportunity to bring that mission to fruition.
If the students did discuss homosexuality with the Soulforce riders it would have been a perfect opportunity to educate them and prepare them to face an issue that isn’t going to disappear no matter how hard Focus on the Family tries.
And as much as I hate writing a “Go ACU!” column, our response to the Soulforce visit is exactly how Christian universities should respond to groups of opposition.
Instead of running away from controversy, ACU took it head on and defended its policy against homosexuality and what it views as sexually immoral acts and let the Soulforce representatives voice their opinions even though they were in direct conflict with ACU’s stance on the issue.
If institutions claim to be Christians they should not cut themselves off from the rest of the world because they disagree with them.
At this point, I have more respect for Soulforce than I ever can for the close-minded Christian institutions. An audacity to challenge and be heard beats shriveling under the fear of confrontation in my book any day of the week.