2010 Equality Ride Route: Mississippi College

Mississippi College

The Equality Ride stop at Mississippi College is March 31, 2010.

The Equality Rider organizing the stop at Mississippi College is Jason Conner.

Jason Conner Jason Conner
jason_conner@equalityride.com

If you are a student at Mississippi College , an alum of Mississippi College, or a concerned citizen in the Clinton, MS area and would like to help with the Soulforce Q Equality Ride’s visit to Mississippi College, please register below.

Register to help with the 2010 Equality Ride’s stop at Mississippi College

Sunday, March 28th
6pm: Potluck dinner at Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson
4866 North State Street
Jackson MS 39206 

Tuesday, March 30th
1:45pm – 4:30pm – Community Service project at Belhaven University;
meet on campus in the Student Center

7:00pm – Dinner at Safe Harbor Family Church
2147 Henry Hill Drive, Suite 203
Jackson, MS 39204-2000 

Two Equality Riders Arrested at Mississippi College

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

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

(Clinton, MS) — At 1:00 pm today, two Equality Riders and two Mississippi College (MC) students walked onto that school’s campus to deliver a letter from an anonymous gay male student who is currently enrolled at MC. After the first warning from MC security, the two students stepped back. The Equality Riders continued onto campus and were arrested for trespassing.

Part of the letter read, "I honestly fear that when I do decide to let the public know who I really am, many of the organizations and activities with which I am involved will turn me away." The letter also described his experiences as a gay man on MC campus, where he has been the target of anti-gay speech.

"This letter is a clear indication that there are students on this campus who are struggling to have their voices heard. If the student were to openly express the content of this letter, he would be placing himself at risk." said Katie Higgins, Equality Ride Co-director.

The Equality Ride is a youth-organized bus tour to Christian colleges. The Ride promotes safety and fairness for all students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. This visit to MC is the seventh Equality Ride stop this year. Last year, five Equality Riders were arrested at MC and three were sentenced to community service.

Now in its third year, the Equality Ride has visited over fifty schools, most of which have been welcoming. At other schools, participants have hosted public forums, participated in panel discussions, and taken 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.

The 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.

The two women arrested were Caitlin MacIntyre, 19, of Houston, Alex Lundy, 21, of Syosset, NY. They have already been released and, along with the other Equality Riders, are continuing conversations with students. They will remain outside Mississippi College until 5:00 pm CST.

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 Clarion-Ledger, "Gay rights activists arrested again at MC"

Gay rights activists arrested again at MC

Monday, October 20, 2008
By Ruth Ingram, Clinton News

Jackson, MS—If the gay rights group Soulforce created a big splash during its visit to Mississippi College in early 2007, its return visit Monday produced a ripple by comparison.

Absent was the Clinton Police Department’s SWAT team, its large communications truck and a heavy presence of both Clinton police and security officers employed by the private Baptist college.

Also absent was Soulforce’s brightly painted charter bus that entered campus in 2007 as part of an escorted motorcade. Instead, the 16 “Equality Ride” members who staged a vigil and protest were dropped off and the bus parked elsewhere.

The purpose of the visit, however, was unchanged. Members of Soulforce, a Lynchburg, Va., organization that advocates “relentless nonviolent resistance” to get its message across, wanted to call attention to MC’s policies against homosexual behavior.

“We want to provide hope and safety for the students here, and to tell them we love you just the way you are,” said Caitlin MacIntyre, 19, a junior at Rice University in Houston and the tour’s media director.

Soulforce members who take part in the group’s annual tour of Christian colleges arrive on campus, hold vigils on public sidewalks and streets, then designate several members to walk onto the college’s private grounds, where they are arrested for trespassing. Last year, four members were charged with trespassing at MC.

On Monday, Soulforce riders MacIntyre and Alex Lundy, 21, of Syosset, N.Y., linked arms with MC students Jonathan Parker, 20, of Louisville and Mary Sue Strong, 19, of Jackson and strode onto the grassy area leading to Nelson Hall, the administration building.

Two of a half-dozen or so MC security officers met them quickly, told them that they would be charged with trespassing, and asked MacIntyre and Lundy to follow them to the alumni building.

There, Clinton police were to load them into a van for booking.

MacIntyre and Lundy held hands and followed police in contrast to last year, when protesters were immediately handcuffed when they stepped on MC property.

Strong and Parker were left behind to watch the two women depart.

“The school has done what it can to silence the persecution on this campus,” said Strong, who with Parker describes herself as a “straight ally” of homosexual students.

“It’s not OK to turn a blind eye to what goes on here,” she said. “There is hatred on campus.”

Parker said he was a little scared to defy the administration and walk in solidarity with the Soulforce riders.

“My heart was kind of shaking a little bit,” he said. “But I wanted to stand up for what I believe in. There is no room for hatred on the campus of MC.”

Before the arrests, a group of about 50 students gathered on school property across from more than a dozen Soulforce riders and another dozen students standing with them on the sidewalk in solidarity.

Soulforce member Zak Rittenhouse, a sophomore at Ohio University, stood in the middle of the line they formed, reading an anonymous letter from a student who said he must live “in the closet” at MC.

Some MC students say they defend Soulforce’s right to speak out, but disagree with their message.

“A lot of them stated that ‘We are simply people.’ I agree with that,” said sophomore kinesiology major James Turcotte, 19, of Clinton. His father is Jim Turcotte, MC’s vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.

“I will accept a homosexual person, but I do not agree with their values,” the younger Turcotte said. “In the Bible, Sodom and Gommorah were wiped off the face of this planet because of homosexuality.”

His friend Josh Long, 23, of Clinton took in a few minutes of the protest on his way to his next class.

“It was interesting, to say the least,” Long said. “Even though they were told they were not welcome and if they stepped foot on the grounds they would get arrested, they still did it.”

MC released a statement from Eric Pratt, the college’s vice president for Christian development.

"Soulforce continues to undermine traditional Biblical positions. It is clear that Soulforce is not tolerant of individuals or institutions that hold a conservative, evangelical position,” he said.

“We will not allow any group to force their agenda upon us.”

The original article is available on the Clarion-Ledger website:
http://www.clarionledger.com/article/D7/20081020/NEWS/81020002/1001

The Clarion-Ledger, "Gay rights group plans MC protest"

Six arrested on Florida University campus in gay rights protest

Trespassing will bring police, college says

Saturday, October 18, 2008
By Ruth Ingram, Clinton News

Jackson, MS—A gay rights group threatens to trespass this weekend on Mississippi College’s campus to deliver a message of "inclusion" for all students, risking arrests and fines.

But the president of the college’s Student Government Association says another visit to the Christian campus by Soulforce is nothing more than a bid for publicity.

The national gay rights organization that last year protested at MC is returning Sunday and Monday. Likely, protesters will do what they did when they lined up on campus March 22, 2007: They will knowingly step onto MC property and be arrested for trespassing.

The Soulforce Q Equality Ride bus tour will come to the private Baptist college at 8 p.m. Sunday for a candlelight vigil on College Street across from the Aven Arts Building. A second vigil is Monday at 9 a.m. on College Street.

At 1 p.m. Monday, Soulforce officials say, Equality Ride members will attempt "to go on campus."

College administrators forbade Equality Ride protesters from setting foot on college property in 2007. When four crossed onto the area across from Aven, they were arrested by Clinton police and charged with misdemeanor trespassing. A fifth was later arrested and charged; all were released after each paid a $250 fine.

MC administrators are saying little about the visit.

"If Soulforce chooses to trespass, we will call the Clinton Police Department," said public relations director Tracey Harrison. Campus security will be present during the vigils and the Monday afternoon event, she said.

In 2007, the Clinton Police Department stationed its SWAT van across from the administration building and had a strong police presence.

This year, Harrison said, the college will ask for Clinton police support "only if necessary."

The college learned of the visit in an Aug. 1 letter from Soulforce staff to MC President Lee Royce, Harrison said.

The visit is one of 15 stops at private Christian colleges on the Equality Ride’s 2008 route, which began Oct. 1 at private Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and ends Nov. 13 at Simmons College in Louisville, Ky.

The group "will bring a message of safety and inclusion to Mississippi College," Soulforce said in a news release.

Clinton resident Harley McAlexander, president of MC’s Student Government Association, said the second visit by Soulforce isn’t creating much conversation among students.

"I wish there was a way that this (visit) could be mutually beneficial to both of us, but it’s unfortunate that they (Soulforce) seem to be more into getting publicity."

Mississippi College’s student handbook says extramarital and premarital sex and homosexual behavior are not tolerated on campus.

It says nothing about banning homosexuals from enrollment.

Harrison said members of Soulforce do not enjoy all of the liberties they would on a public university campus. "The (U.S.) Constitution requires government to respect the rights of free speech," she said. "MC is not a public institution.

"MC does not allow activists on campus who do not advance our commitment to the cause of Christ."

The original article is available on the Clarion-Ledger website:
http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20081018/NEWS/810180349/1001/news

Equality Riders to Return to Clinton, Miss., Site of Police Harassment and Intimidation in 2007

Young Adults Tour Christian Colleges to Advocate Safety and Inclusion for All Students

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ADVISORY: October 14, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Caitlin MacIntyre, 
Equality Ride Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138 Email: caitlin@equalityride.com
******************************************

What: On October 19 and 20, the Soulforce Q Equality Ride, a six-week bus tour to faith-based colleges, will bring a message of safety and inclusion to Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss. The Equality Ride promotes safe educational settings for all students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).

When the Equality Ride visited Mississippi College in 2007, Clinton police issued a written warning that Riders would be arrested for congregating in groups of four or more near the campus. The ACLU of Mississippi intervened, and the Clinton police withdrew the unconstitutional restrictions on First Amendment rights.

However, as the young adult Equality Riders attempted to depart from Clinton, Mississippi, they were stopped three times by police vehicles within less than ten minutes. Their driver was subjected to threatening demands to "get out of town." Leaders of six national equality organizations wrote a letter of protest to Mayor Aultman of Clinton.

Why: More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. At Mississippi College the student handbook states, "sexual impropriety includes but is not limited to participation in or appearance of engaging in premarital sex, extramarital sex or homosexual activities."

Equality Riders have been in contact with several students on campus, including one who feels that coming out on campus is not possible for her. She has stated that she fears the repercussions of coming out and the reactions of her peers and administration.

When: Sunday, October 19, 2008
8:00 pm, Candlelight vigil

Monday, October 20, 2008
9:00 am, Vigil
1:00 pm, Equality Ride attempts to go on campus

Where: Vigil will take place on College Street across from the Aven Arts Building (same as last year).

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.

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Equality Ride Returns to Liberty U. for 2008 Launch

LGBT Young Adults to Visit Faith-Based Colleges in the South
October 1-November 13, 2008

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 25, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
******************************************

(Lynchburg, VA) The 2008 Equality Ride, a youth-organized bus tour to faith-based colleges, will launch with a visit to Liberty University on October 1. Seventeen lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight young adults will bring a message of inclusion and safety to the school, which was founded by the late Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr.

More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. At Liberty University, gay and lesbian students are subject to reprimands and disciplinary consequences, including ex-gay conversion counseling and expulsion.

In spite of the school’s policies, the elder Falwell allowed the Equality Riders to attend convocation and speak with students on campus in 2005. However, the Riders were threatened with arrest when they attempted to donate gay-affirming books to the Liberty University library. When the Equality Ride returned in 2006, 24 people were arrested for stepping onto campus to speak with students.

This year, under the leadership of Jerry Falwell Jr., college officials have indicated that they will not work with the Riders to plan opportunities for dialogue and exchange. But if the administration would rather not talk about safety and quality of life for LGBT students, the students themselves are another story.

"We are in contact with Liberty students who have been waiting for the Equality Ride to return. We cannot let them down," said Katie Higgins, Co-director of the Equality Ride. "We bring hope to students who fear expulsion or other sanctions just for being themselves. We tell them that God loves them just as they are, and we speak up for a community where everyone can learn without fear," Higgins continued.

Plans for the visit to Liberty University are still taking shape, but the Riders say they will use creative means to communicate with students and faculty about building inclusive faith communities. On the evening of October 1, First Christian Church of Lynchburg will host a public forum and worship service for the Riders and the community.

Soulforce has a long history with Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, which was also founded by Falwell. Prior to coming out as a gay man in 1993, Soulforce Founder Rev. Mel White was a ghostwriter for Falwell and other prominent evangelical leaders. Soulforce was founded in 1999, when a group of 200 Soulforce volunteers participated in dialogue about love, faith, and equality with members of the Thomas Road congregation.

"Soulforce will never give up on our fundamentalist brothers and sisters," says White.

At many schools, Equality Riders host public forums, participate in panel discussions, study the Bible, and attend chapel with. The goal is to inspire conversation and empower students, faculty, and administrators to make their school safe and welcoming for all students.

The 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.

Several things are new on this year’s Ride. The bus will visit more seminaries this year, including a planned stop at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. The Equality Ride will stop in Atlanta, where student groups at Morehouse College and Spelman College will host the Riders on campus. And this year the Equality Riders will reach out to students and community members by organizing opportunities to come together in community service.

2008 Equality Ride Route

Oct. 1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
Oct. 6 Columbia International University Columbia, SC
Oct. 9 Morehouse College Atlanta, GA
Oct. 10 Spelman College Atlanta, GA
Oct. 13-14 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
Oct. 17 Heritage Christian University Florence, AL
Oct. 20 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
Oct. 23 Louisiana College Pineville, LA
Oct. 24 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
Oct. 27 Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, TX
Oct. 29 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
Nov. 5 Ouachita Baptist University Arkadelphia, AR
Nov. 7 Central Baptist College Conway, AR
Nov. 10-11 Union University Jackson, TN
Nov. 13 Simmons College of Kentucky Louisville, KY

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.org.
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Soulforce Releases Route for 2008 Equality Ride

LGBT Young Adults to Visit Faith-Based Colleges in the South
October 2-November 13, 2008

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 9, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
******************************************

(Austin, TX) Today Soulforce Q announced the route for Equality Ride 2008, a youth-organized bus tour to faith-based colleges. This fall, 17 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight young adults will bring a message of inclusion and safety to 15 schools throughout the South.

"As young people and students ourselves, we understand that 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. "And students who face harassment or expulsion can’t always speak up for themselves. That’s where we come in. We can speak up for a community where everyone can learn without fear."

More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. Some schools without explicit policies nevertheless foster climates where harassment of LGBT students is prevalent. 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 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.

The 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.

The colleges’ responses shape the itinerary. The Equality Ride strives to visit a mix of schools that are open to collaboration and schools that are not yet willing to make a place at the table for affirming viewpoints. The 2008 Equality Ride is focused on the South, with stops from Virginia to Oklahoma and from Florida to Kentucky.

Several other things are new on this year’s Ride. The bus will visit more seminaries this year, including a planned stop at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. The Equality Ride will visit historically black colleges for the first time this year, with stops planned at Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Simmons College. And this year the Equality Riders will reach out to students and community members by organizing opportunities to come together in community service.

"We know that young people want to be part of the solution that heals divided communities, churches, and schools," said 26-year-old Katie Higgins, Co-director of the Equality Ride. "We’re reaching out to these schools, because we can’t heal those rifts until everyone has a place at the table."

2008 Equality Ride Route

Oct. 2-3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
Oct. 6 Columbia International University Columbia, SC
Oct. 9 Morehouse College Atlanta, GA
Oct. 10 Spelman College Atlanta, GA
Oct. 13-14 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
Oct. 17 Heritage Christian University Florence, AL
Oct. 20 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
Oct. 23 Louisiana College Pineville, LA
Oct. 24 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
Oct. 27 Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, TX
Oct. 29 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
Nov. 5 Ouachita Baptist University Arkadelphia, AR
Nov. 7 Central Baptist College Conway, AR
Nov. 10-11 Union University Jackson, TN
Nov. 13 Simmons College of Kentucky Louisville, KY

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.org.
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2008 Equality Ride Route

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2008 Equality Ride Route

Stop Date School Location
1 Oct. 1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 Oct. 6 Columbia International University Columbia, SC
3 Oct. 9 Morehouse College Atlanta, GA
4 Oct. 10 Spelman College Atlanta, GA
5 Oct. 13-14 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
6 Oct. 17 Heritage Christian University Florence, AL
7 Oct. 20 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
8 Oct. 23 Louisiana College Pineville, LA
9 Oct. 24 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
10 Oct. 27 Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, TX
11 Oct. 29 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
12 Nov. 5 Ouachita Baptist University Arkadelphia, AR
13 Nov. 7 Central Baptist College Conway, AR
14 Nov. 10-11 Union University Jackson, TN
15 Nov. 13 Simmons College of Kentucky Louisville, KY

 

Google Map of 2008 Equality Ride Route

Back to the Equality Ride Homepage

2008 Equality Ride Route: Mississippi College

Mississippi CollegeThe Equality Ride stop at Mississippi College is October 20, 2008.

The Equality Rider organizing the stop at Mississippi College is Zak Rittenhouse.

Zak Rittenhouse Zak Rittenhouse
zak@equalityride.com

If you are a student at Mississippi College, an alum of Mississippi College, or a concerned citizen in the Clinton, Mississippi area and would like to help with the Soulforce Q Equality Ride’s visit to Mississippi College, please register below.

Register to help with the 2008 Equality Ride’s stop at Mississippi College

ACLU – Six National Gay Organizations Fight for Soulforce Equality Rider’s Rights; Riders Being Held in Clinton, Mississippi

Soulforce Equality Riders Bring Attention To Discrimination and Fear

Civil Rights Trump Gay Rights In Mississippi – ACLU Steps In

Six Major GLBT Rights Organizations Step In With Letter to The Mayor of Clinton

BYU Arrests Mother and Son

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: March 25, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, brandon@equalityride.com
Kyle DeVries, East Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6284, kyle@equalityride.com
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(Clinton, MI and Provo, UT) — The Soulforce Equality Riders arrived at the Mississippi College campus in Clinton seeking to end religion-based oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT people at Christian colleges across the country. The riders are attempting to engage in a dialogue concerning the harmful effects of policies that silence of exclude LGBT students. Twenty-five lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight young adults made the trip. Four of the group’s members were arrested when they stepped off a public sidewalk and onto the grass in front of the college’s administration building. The fifth was arrested about an hour later for the same thing. The Riders were given the choice of staying in jail for a week or performing three days of community service. They chose the latter and will stay behind in Clinton and reconnect with the bus in Alabama. Authorities continued to harass the Equality Riders throughout the day. Local officers used harsh and intimidating language with the Riders. SWAT teams from Clinton Township were also called in. The Soulforce Equality bus was continuously followed and forced to leave Clinton. As Riders were waiting for the return of some of the members of Soulforce to return a police vehicle approached the bus with its lights flashing, signaling the bus to move. The bus driver immediately turned down the nearest road and into a church parking lot to await the Equality Riders. The same officer once again followed them into the parking lot, with his lights on and asked the driver to speak with him. The officer was quite aggressive in demanding that they "go on and get out of town." The driver explained that we were still waiting on the remainder of our group, but was still forced to move the bus. At that time, they drove and parked the bus in a lot that was previously designated by the city of Clinton. For the third time, a police vehicle approached them with flashing lights. The officer who had approached the bus was extremely indignant and asked "what is your problem? We have already given you breaks today." The driver explained that we were in the space the City provided for us. In response, the officer asserted that the driver would be arrested if he were to take Equality Riders anywhere else and not leave the city of Clinton immediately.

In a letter to Rosemary G. Aultman, Mayor of the City of Clinton, Lambda Legal, NGLTF, NCLR, GLAAD, HRC and Log Cabin Republicans state: On March 20, Clinton police officials informed Soulforce that its members would be cited if they
"attempt[ed] to gather or travel in a group of four or more" near the campus of Mississippi College. Lt. Thomas R. Ruffin acknowledged that the department’s actions "could be construed as conflicting with constitutional allowances," but said that Soulforce’s presence in Clinton presented "valid public safety concerns." This accusation is utterly without merit: Soulforce is enormously well respected across the country and is relentlessly nonviolent. Only after being contacted by the American Civil Liberties Union did the police lift the threat of citation.

Despite the arrests, riders and students engaged in constructive dialogue about sexuality, gender, and faith. Over one hundred Mississippi students eagerly awaited the Equality riders in hopes of opening up this dialogue. Many shared stories of discrimination and fear for their lives.

Some students supported the group’s right to visit the school. "While I disagree with them, I believe we should welcome them," 20-year-old student Alex Touchstone, of Meridian, said. "Jesus loves them the same as he loves us."

Rider Brandy Daniels states, "It was exciting and encouraging to see students cross school boundaries to engage in conversation. It really demonstrates that this is a conversation that students want to have, despite the opposition of the administration."

"We come to these campuses to create dialogue and to be a support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," Daniels said. "Mississippi College teaches that LGBT people are sick and sinful. But we know and express that God affirms LGBT people in their identity and truth."

Mississippi College is one of 32 Christian colleges and universities that Soulforce will visit as part of its second annual Soulforce Equality Ride. 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. Mississippi College is a private Christian college located in Clinton, Mississippi. Their student handbook includes "homosexual activities" in a list of improprieties subject to disciplinary sanctions.

The riders came to speak with students at the university about this discriminatory policy towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and the doctrine that sustains it.

At BYU on Thursday, Mormon Equality Rider Kourt Osborn, and his mother, Karel Allen, were arrested in an attempt to deliver a list of concerns to the administration regarding BYU’s discriminatory policies against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. Current and former BYU students, gay and straight, submitted over fifty pages of concerns for the well being of LGBT students at BYU. Four of the Riders were raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.

The BYU Student Honor Code states that "no one known to be guilty of overt and active homosexual conduct is to be enrolled or permitted to remain at Church Educational System (CES) campuses as students…"

Equality Riders spent an afternoon at Utah Valley State College leading presentations about sexual orientation and faith for community members, including LDS youth, and spent Wednesday evening with fifty BYU students discussing the reconciliation of the Church and LGBT individuals.

Melissa Pomeroy, a sophomore at BYU, shared her concern: "I feel like I’m all alone at BYU. There is no way for me to meet others like me, even just to talk, because everyone is so afraid of coming out."

"We remain hopeful that the student leaders will continue this dialogue beyond our [Equality Ride] visit and that the administration will come to see the value in this discussion," says Matt Kulisch.


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.