SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 13, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, 646-258-7193
(Denver, CO) – Equality Riders found smiling faces greeting them as they stepped off the bus, food and hospitality, and extensive opportunities to dialogue with students and faculty that have rivaled their most successful stops so far at Azusa Pacific, Biola University and Abilene Christian. Despite the warm welcome, the student conduct code at the school was one of the most restrictive, prohibiting “practicing, defending or advocating a homosexual lifestyle,” potentially affecting straight allies as well as LGBT people.
“The policy at Colorado Christian University is one of the most oppressive in the country,” said Jacob Reitan, co-director of the Equality Ride. “That being said, Colorado Christian has given us unprecedented access to their classrooms today and for that we are truly grateful.”
Reitan added, “There has been a grace we have felt on this campus that goes beyond policies or theologies. We really felt listened to here.”
The college is a small, non-denominational, mostly undergraduate school with 900 students, with more than 85% living on campus. The young, energetic faculty and staff were sometimes difficult to tell from the students.
Equality Riders were greeted with a “crack of dawn” breakfast in the student center, which has become standard at stops that have welcomed them to campus, fueling them up for what are sometimes 8-10 hour days of presentations and dialogue.
Equality Riders presented in classes that might be expected, such as History and Literature of Ancient Israel and New Testament, but also presented in Cultural Diversity, American History since 1877 and Business Ethics. Presentations included the “History of Violence,” “Letters to Mel,” “Coming Out to God,” “Teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King,” and a four-class marathon for the Bible team. All tolled, the Equality Riders presented in 9 classes, a record for any school on the Ride.
One of the most popular presentations was a drama called “The Unknowns,” which told the heart-wrenching story of Jacob and Dawn, two young Christians who must deal with coming out to their school, their parents and their church…as heterosexual. The reality-reversing skit was designed to help heterosexual students imagine a world where their desires were seen as “sick and sinful,” where straight people must fight the battles that usually rage around the personal relationships of LGBT people.
“This school apparently has a strong commitment to academic freedom,” Reitan said. “Let’s hope their policies soon reflect the openness we found on campus.”
The Equality Ride will be at the Air Force Academy tomorrow.
For more on the Equality Ride stop at Colorado Christian University, see: www.equalityride.com/ccu.
The Soulforce Equality Ride is a journey to change the heart and mind of America on the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Following in the footsteps of the Freedom Rides of the 1960’s, the Equality Ride uses principles of non-violence to confront military and religious colleges and universities with policies banning enrollment of LGBT students. The Equality Riders reflect on the lessons of history, which have shown past religion-based discrimination against women, people of color, and religious minorities to be an unacceptable abuse of the sanctity of religion. At each of the 19 schools on the 51-day bus tour, the young adult ambassadors of the Equality Ride bring this simple message to students, faculty and administrators: Learn from history; end religion-based discrimination.