Equality Riders Face Anti-Gay Protesters Outside Bob Jones University

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandy Daniels, East Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6284, brandy@equalityride.com

(Greensville, South Carolina) — Three young women were arrested today, on the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., for walking onto the campus of Bob Jones University to engage students in dialogue. These individuals, part of the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride Eastbound Bus, came to speak with students at the university about its discriminatory policy towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and the doctrine that sustains it.

Upon arrival to Bob Jones, Equality Riders were met with groups protesting their visit and message of inclusion for God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children. Operation Save America, Truth Ministry, and Americans for Truth were three of the anti-gay groups present. Through bullhorns and homophobic signs, they loudly and forcefully spoke against the acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

The Equality Riders arrested were Katie Higgins, 24, from Charleston, SC; Amanda Harris, 22, from Little Rock, AR; and Bronwen Tomb, 23, from New London, CT. These students were arrested as they attempted to walk on to campus to deliver artwork and a call for change to the campus.

Harris and Tomb both walked on campus carrying pieces of art representing the effects of homophobia in their lives. Higgins walked on after reading a document inspired by and formatted after Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, in which he brought to light the injustices of the church and called for change.

After Higgins’ arrest, Mandy Matthias, author of the document and coordinator for the visit to Bob Jones, finished the oration of the theses at the front gate of campus.

Bob Jones students were unable to speak with Equality Riders, but riders believe that they made an impact on the student body.

"As I was being arrested I could see hundreds of students looking over at us from the chapel, interested in what was happening. It is unfortunate that BJU administration was so quick to restrict the academic freedom on their campus that should be an integral part of the college experience," said Katie Higgins, co-director for the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride, east bus.

Bob Jones University is one of 32 Christian colleges and universities that Soulforce will visit as part of its second annual Soulforce Equality Ride, and the ninth visit on the eastbound route. The 2007 Equality Ride is a 2-month journey by bus that is taking 50 young adults on 2 distinct routes to schools that actively discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Bob Jones is a private Christian college located in Greenville, SC. In letters to individual Equality Riders dated April 4, president Stephen Jones reiterated that "the institution believes the Bible is clear about God’s view of homosexual practice" and that there is "no room for dialogue."

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For more information go to www.soulforce.org or www.equalityride.com.