Soulforce Bus Scrubbed of Anti-Gay Hate Message by Lee University Students; Former Lee Students Step Forward to do the Same on Campus

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ALERT: March 17, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, 646-258-7193
richard@equalityride.com
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Defacement of the Equality Ride bus(Cleveland, TN) – On Friday evening several Lee students gathered to clean the Equality Ride bus, vandalized with spray paint the night before. When they were finished, the words "Fags-Mobile" were erased, leaving the original message "Learn from history. End religion based discrimination".

“These wonderful students have done a great service by wiping away the stain of homophobia from our bus,” said Jacob Reitan, Equality Ride co-director. “Let’s hope they can go back to their school and wipe away the stain anti-gay discrimination that still goes on every day at Lee.”

The second day of the Lee University stop of the Equality Ride ended with a prayer vigil and devotion from Lee University graduate Rev. Scott Sanders. Students joined the riders in prayer and song for 30 minutes before university administrators asked the group to disperse.

In his devotion, Rev. Sanders shared the biblical story of Jesus multiplying loaves and fishes to feed 5,000, in reference to Lee University president Paul Conn’s statement to Riders justifying Lee’s strict limitations on interaction with students that “half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.” In a symbolic gesture of thanks and hope that the dialogue that occurred with students would be multiplied and spread with others, Rev. Sanders broke a loaf of bread and passed it for the assembled students and Riders to share.

Before the prayer vigil, Equality Riders walked the campus talking with students; other riders joined students in attending classes in which the Ride’s issues were discussed. The Equality Riders were not allowed, however, to make any formal presentations on the campus.

“I cannot accept that we should be happy that we received a ‘half a loaf’ just because we are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” said Equality Ride co-director Haven Herrin to the riders. “But we are so thankful to those students who welcomed us on campus with open arms, and truly listened to what we had to say.”

The Riders formed close relationships with several students who were closeted, had been expelled from Lee because of their sexual orientation, or who came out after graduation. Among them was Matthew, a student who was expelled from Lee after administrators found a posting on MySpace.com that indicated his sexual orientation as gay. “I was planning to stay in the background during the Equality Ride visit,” said Matthew, who preferred that his last name not be used because he has not yet come out to his family. “But I have told my story to so many people in the last two days – students, professors, administrators. I never would have done that if it wasn’t for the Equality Ride.” Matthew added, “I woke up this morning, and it just felt like a new day.”

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For more information on the Equality Ride visit www.equalityride.com/media.


Soulforce’s purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

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