Blessed are the Peacemakers: Former Union Student Delivers 蔘ヨSermon on the Mound蔘サ

For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, 646-258-7193

JACKSON, TN – The Soulforce Equality Ride pulled into Jackson, TN accompanied by a police escort starting at the county line. Despite requests from the Equality Ride to meet at the clock tower in the center of the Union University campus, police directed the bus to the edge of a muddy soccer field with the school’s tower far in the distance. A security officer from the campus police boarded the bus and read an extensive list of restrictions, outlining where the Riders could go and what the consequences would be if they trespassed, reminding the riders that it was only through the graciousness of the school that they were allowed to be on campus at all. Riders disembarked from the bus and claimed a pile of dirt by the side of the field for justice.

In true "sermon on the mound" fashion, the Equality Riders ascended the dirt pile to pray, sing and encourage an end to religion-based discrimination. Equality Rider Dawn Davridge told the story of her expulsion from Union because she and her female partner had decided to join together in marriage.

Davridge enrolled at Union in the fall of 2001 because the school offered a Christian atmosphere and would help her foster a greater relationship with God.

"I felt that the school would help me find the answers I was searching for; instead I found a community that did not welcome me as the child of God that I am," explained Davridge.

Despite assurances that the two were, and intended to remain, celibate until their marriage after graduation, once university administrators found out that Davridge and her fianc愰e were engaged both students were expelled within a week. Davridge explained that many of her friends never knew why she and her fianc愰e had left campus so abruptly.

About a dozen students from Union University came to hear the Saturday afternoon talk at the edge of their campus. They brought boxed lunches and water to the Riders, but it was difficult to feel welcome in the remote location the school had provided.

"We do not feel that we were welcomed here in a Christian manner," said Jacob Reitan, co-director of the Equality Ride. "We were pushed to the edge of campus and out of the dialogue of the school, the same as Union University does to all of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students."

For more information on the Equality Ride visit

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