NO LGBT OPPRESSION AT BETHEL COLLEGE
Anyway, the Bethel Idol Champion - whose name I never got - opened for me on my visit to Bethel's chapel service a few days ago...sort of.
He and a small herd of Bethel men danced the tango together while wearing knickers, leggings, frilly shirts and long curly wigs. They said it was to promote their upcoming performance of Peter Pan, but needless to say I'm a tad skeptical.
Bethel obviously has no ban on students' public transgendered behavior. Heck, they even make time in chapel for it. Perhaps this kind of transgender acceptance is the reason Bethel College hasn't yet made Equality Ride's hit list.
Equality Ride: A group of young lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual twenty-somethings who see the religion based policies and views of various colleges and universities regarding LGTB students as discriminatory and unbiblical, calling it "religion based oppression." The Equality Riders compare the discrimination against LGTB students at these colleges to the discrimination against racial minorities that took place in America before the civil rights movement of the sixties in America. The Equality Ride is a collection of LGTBs (some Christian) riding in a bus, donned with their slogans and images of Martin Luther King Jr and Ghandi, to institutions of higher learning he riders deem discriminatory - a ride they compare to the freedom rides of the civil rights movement and to King's march on Washington.
Among the nineteen schools being visited over the 51 day ride against oppression are Christian campuses Liberty University and Wheaton and military school West Point.
So far the riders have been very unwelcomed by Pat Roberton's Regent University and Jerry Falwell's Liberty University - all of which arrested riders for trespassing or other minor offenses. While at Wheaton last week I learned a great deal about Wheaton's more thoughtful, constructive, kind and educational approach to the visiting riders. The riders demanded time to address students without rebuttal or discussion by faculty or campus representatives. Wheaton refused kindly and countered with a generous proposal for open discussions and a handful of public question and answer sessions, as well as meetings with administrators to discuss the riders' specific problems with Wheaton policies regarding sexuality. At these public discussions, to be held on Wheaton's campus April 20th, Equality Ride representatives will be allowed to speak their minds, show two videos of their own making and will be given more stage time than those rebutting on behalf of Wheaton. Wheaton professors are also encouraged to use the visit as a teaching tool - encouraged to invite riders to their classes for further philosophical, religious and social discussion.
Stanton L. Jones, provost at Wheaton, wrote these words to the student body after deciding to welcome the Equality Riders to campus:
“He (God) commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves” and concluded that “we will extend to our visitors courtesy and hospitality as an extension of our commitment to live as Jesus lived...We would be failing you, our students, if we did not view this visit as an opportunity for each of us to grow in our understanding of the many complex issues surrounding the morality of homosexual conduct. We hope this visit will be an educational opportunity for our entire community that will bear fruit for the Church, the Church you will soon be called to lead. We will seek to ensure that the Equality Ride visit is a learning opportunity for students in keeping with our mission as a Christian liberal arts institution."
A welcome is a reasonable thing to ask for. And a welcome, we Christians would do well to remember, is not an adoption of our visitors' views anymore than dressing in knickers and tights is an adoption of...Well, but you get the point.