Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Gay activists conduct vigil at Fort Worth’s Baptist seminary"

Gay activists conduct vigil at Fort Worth’s Baptist seminary

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
By Terry Lee Goodrich, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH — About 30 gay-rights advocates lined Seminary Drive outside Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s entrance Monday after a private meeting with seminary representatives, saying they hope that the dialogue was a first step in wiping out discrimination.

Two members of the Soulforce Q Equality Ride, which has been on a national bus tour of faith-based colleges and seminaries this month, stood with their mouths taped inside a clear plastic structure they held upright.

The structure was symbolic of a "glass closet," said Caitlyn MacIntyre, director of the 17-person group. She said some gay and lesbian students at Southwestern used that term to describe their feeling that "they cannot speak about who they are."

The riders were gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and straight people.

Across Seminary Drive, a few community members held signs to show their opposition to homosexuality.

Bill Bool of Fort Worth said the "sole issue is Christ and that we’ve all sinned. God never intended homosexuality.  . . . If a person receives Christ, there is going to be a change."

During the hourlong private meeting, seminary representatives used Scripture to explain their stance on faith and sexuality, Southwestern officials said.

"There’s a difference of opinion, but it was a cordial and kind dialogue," said Thomas White, the seminary’s vice president for student services and communications.

During Soulforce’s presentation, they likened the seminary’s stance against homosexuality to its discrimination against African-Americans in the 1940s and 1950s. In 2004, Southwestern President Paige Patterson apologized at a commencement to a 100-year-old black man and awarded him an overdue master’s degree he had earned at Southwestern decades ago.

During the private meeting, MacIntyre said, Soulforce members asked, "How long do we have to wait for it to be made right for us?"

Another gay-rights advocate at the meeting was Lauren Parke, a graduate of Texas Lutheran University in Seguin.

"I went to the front of the room and opened my Bible and said I’d like to share the words of Jesus" about homosexuality, she said. She flipped through the pages of the four Gospels in silence for seven minutes because, she said, Jesus said nothing against homosexuality.

Among those who turned out to support the riders was Liz Cumpton, 20, a religion major at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

"This is very important to me, because I’m planning on going into the ministry for the Methodist church, and I’ve had friends kicked out of faith-based universities based on their sexuality," she said.

White said that when students apply for admission to the seminary, they sign a document that they will abide by the seminary’s code of conduct.

He said that the Bible condemns all forms of sexual immorality — including adultery, lust and homosexuality — but that it also offers hope of forgiveness to those willing to repent.

Seminary representatives, among them students, faculty, staff and administrators, "acted out our beliefs by considerately sharing the Gospel," but "our position remains unchanged," White said.

The original article is available on The Fort Worth Star-Telegram website:
http://www.star-telegram.com/metro_news/story/1001185.html

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Name: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Religious Affiliation: Baptist
Enrollment: 3,567
Website: http://www.swbts.edu/
Accreditation:
Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Concerning GLBT Equality:

The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 2008-9 Student Handbook contains the following:

Ethical Conduct

General Information

3. The institution may take disciplinary action should any ethical standard of an academic and/ or personal nature be violated. In the case of academic dishonesty (see item 2 above) breaches of this standard will result in the failure of assignment along further possible disciplinary measures as outlined below. The institution recognizes a professor’s authority to undertake disciplinary actions concerning any of his students in the context of his classroom. Generally, violations of the institution’s ethical conduct policy include, but not limited to:

4. Heterosexual misconduct, homosexual behavior, or any other form of sexual misconduct.

The entire policy can be seen in the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Student Affairs Handbook, which can be viewed here.

Press Release Newswire, "Soulforce Equality Ride to Visit Three Texas Christian Campuses"

Soulforce Equality Ride to Visit Three Texas Christian Campuses

The Equality Ride, a national bus tour of Christian campuses, will visit Dallas Baptist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southwestern Assemblies of God University to advocate safety and fairness for gay and transgender Students.

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) October 22, 2008 — On October 24-29, the third annual Soulforce Equality Ride, a national bus tour to faith-based colleges, will bring a message of inclusion and safety to three area schools: Dallas Baptist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie. The Equality Ride advocates safe educational settings for all students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).

The schools’ responses to the Ride demonstrate the diversity of contemporary evangelical cultures. Dallas Baptist University (DBU) is collaborating with the Equality Ride to create a full day of dialogue with faculty, students, and administrators. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) has offered the Riders time to make a presentation about faith and fairness. In contrast, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) has informed the Equality Riders that they are unwelcome on campus and has refused further communication. The third annual Equality Ride comes to Texas at a moment when research suggests that young white evangelicals are diverging from previous generations on social justice issues. A September 2008 poll commissioned by Religion and Ethics Newsweekly found that 58% of 18-29 year old white evangelicals "support some form of legal recognition of civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples; a quarter (26%) support the full right for same-sex couples to marry."

However, in spite of these indications that significant numbers of 18-29 year olds support equality, more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies that discriminate against LGBT students. The DBU student handbook expressly prohibits "student organizations which are homosexual/bisexual in nature." Southwest Baptist lists " homosexual behavior" as grounds for unspecified disciplinary action. The SAGU student handbook lists "homosexuality" and "lesbianism" as grounds for disciplinary action, including "termination from the university."

"It’s very difficult to learn in an environment where you don’t feel safe," said 22-year-old Jarrett Lucas, Co-director of the Equality Ride. "When students can be punished just because of who they are, it’s very difficult for them to speak up about their quality of life on campus. That’s where we come in. We can speak up for a community where everyone can learn without fear."

A 2003 survey of 14 American universities found that more than a third of all LGBT undergraduates had experienced harassment in the past year.

Since 2006, the Equality Ride has visited more than 50 schools, hosting public forums, participating in panel discussions, and taking part in worship services and Bible studies. The goal is to inspire further conversation and to empower students, faculty, and administrators to make their school welcoming to all students.

Equality Riders invite students at all three schools, as well as members of the Dallas/Fort Worth community, to a community gathering on Saturday the 25th at Reverchon Park in Dallas.

The young adult organizers of the Equality Ride use a collaborative approach, writing to college administrators months in advance and inviting them to work together to design programming that examines diverse points of view–including points of view that affirm gay and transgender students.

PRELIMINARY SCHEDULE FOR WEEK OF 10/24-10/27

Dallas Baptist University

Friday, October 24th, 2008

    11:30 am, Press conference outside DBU

    12:00 noon, Riders enter campus

DFW/Equality Ride Community Gathering

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

    2:00 pm, at Reverchon Park in Dallas

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Monday, October 27, 2008

    2:00 pm, Equality Riders are escorted onto campus

    3:30-5:30 pm, Vigil on the edge of campus

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 through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, go to www.equalityride.com.

The original article is available on the Press Release Newswire website:
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/10/prweb1499624.htm

Equality Ride to Visit Three Texas Colleges

National Tour of Christian Colleges Advocates Safety for Gay and Transgender Students

******************************************
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: October 20, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: Caitlin MacIntyre, Equality Ride Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138
caitlin@equalityride.com
******************************************

(Dallas, TX) On October 24-29, the third annual Soulforce Equality Ride, a national bus tour to faith-based colleges, will bring a message of inclusion and safety to three area schools: Dallas Baptist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie. The Equality Ride advocates safe educational settings for all students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).

The schools’ responses to the Ride demonstrate the diversity of contemporary evangelical cultures. Dallas Baptist University (DBU) is collaborating with the Equality Ride to create a full day of dialogue with faculty, students, and administrators. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) has offered the Riders time to make a presentation about faith and fairness. In contrast, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) has informed the Equality Riders that they are unwelcome on campus and has refused further communication.

The third annual Equality Ride comes to Texas at a moment when research suggests that young white evangelicals are diverging from previous generations on social justice issues. A September 2008 poll commissioned by Religion and Ethics Newsweekly found that 58% of 18-29 year old white evangelicals support some form of legal recognition of civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples; a quarter (26%) support the full right for same-sex couples to marry.

However, in spite of these indications that significant numbers of 18-29 year olds support equality, more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies that discriminate against LGBT students. The DBU student handbook expressly prohibits "student organizations which are homosexual/bisexual in nature." Southwest Baptist lists " homosexual behavior" as grounds for unspecified disciplinary action. The SAGU student handbook lists "homosexuality" and "lesbianism" as grounds for disciplinary action, including "termination from the university."

"It’s very difficult to learn in an environment where you don’t feel safe," said 22-year-old Jarrett Lucas, Co-director of the Equality Ride. "When students can be punished just because of who they are, it’s very difficult for them to speak up about their quality of life on campus. That’s where we come in. We can speak up for a community where everyone can learn without fear."

Since 2006, the Equality Ride has visited more than 50 schools, hosting public forums, participating in panel discussions, and taking part in worship services and Bible studies. The goal is to inspire further conversation and to empower students, faculty, and administrators to make their school welcoming to all students.

Equality Riders invite students at all three schools, as well as members of the Dallas/Fort Worth community, to a community gathering on Saturday the 25th at Reverchon Park in Dallas.
The young adult organizers of the Equality Ride use a collaborative approach, writing to college administrators months in advance and inviting them to work together to design programming that examines diverse points of view — including points of view that affirm gay and transgender students.

PRELIMINARY SCHEDULE FOR WEEK OF 10/20-10/26

Dallas Baptist University
Friday, October 24th, 2008
11:30 am, Press conference outside DBU
12:00 noon, Riders enter campus

DFW/Equality Ride Community Gathering
Saturday, October 25th, 2008
2:00 pm, at Reverchon Park in Dallas

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 through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, go to www.equalityride.com.