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Evangelicals On The Slippery Slope Toward A Big Gay Embrace

Randy Potts

April 24th, 2013

You might have heard that Brittney Griner, who the New York Times called “one of the most dominant basketball players in recent memory,” came out recently.  Or, maybe you didn’t.  As the Times put it in their headline, “Female Star Comes Out as Gay, and Sports World Shrugs.”  While everyone is waiting for the first male player to come out, Griner’s news has been received as no news.

What struck me this week was something that’s only been passed on by word of mouth, something probably too delicate to survive media scrutiny if reporters were to look into it and ask for official statements.  That’s the reaction to Briner’s coming out at Baylor where she plans to graduate this spring before joining the Phoenix Mercury who just picked her up in the draft.  Mark Osler, former federal prosecutor and also a former Baylor professor, passes on this little anecdote in the Huffington Post this week about how Baylor’s President Ken Starr (remember him?) treated Griner publicly just days after she came out —

“After Baylor clinched another Big 12 Championship, they made confetti angels on the basketball court as the crowd roared.”

No, Starr did not hold a press conference wearing a rainbow pin with an arm slung around his college’s most famous student.  No theology has been rewritten and, so far, I haven’t found anyone with a picture of this hug on the basketball court.  All the same, I’m sure it happened, and I’m confident it will happen again.  This is how evangelicals are going to begin to embrace the LGBT community.  Colleges especially are ground zero because of the tension between the older administration which at many evangelical colleges censors any mention of LGBT people and the students who, polls show, are now solidly behind marriage equality and finding a place for LGBT people.  This hug was Starr’s nod to that fact, and the crowd’s roar a standing ovation to that nod.  Theology and official statements might take another decade (or two) to catch up to this groundswell, but it will catch up eventually.

February 2013

NOM and  FRC and co. aren’t going to like it, but this scene is going to be played out more and more in the coming years while Bryan Fischer’s head begins to spin and he is finally moved to recite T. S. Eliot —

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”

Comments

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Jonathan
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

I generally agree with the point if the post, but Baylor is not exactly Liberty U. I personally know three men who were out at Baylor in the early to mid 90s and all said there was a thriving gay student community in Waco at the time.

And Griner may be an incredible basketball player, but she’s a thug.

jpeckjr
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

This story made me remember Dan Bradley, who was appointed President of the Legal Services Corp by President Carter. Dan and I attended the same Baptist-related university (not at the same time, although we did meet at some events). When he publicly announced that he was gay in 1982, I was active with the university alum association. I remember our VP for fundraising shrugging her shoulders and saying: “Some of the preachers will be upset, but so what? His accomplishments speak well for the university.” I suspect that’s how the Baylor folks feel.

Priya Lynn
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

“she’s a thug.”.

Why do you say that?

Lindoro Almaviva
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

And what evidence do you have to back up your assertions? I am all about speaking the truth,but if you not gonna back it up, you are the one who ends up looking like a thug.

Jonathan
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

Search YouTube for Griner punches Texas tech player.

Priya Lynn
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

That hardly justifies classifying Griner as a thug. I reject your assessment pending other evidence supporting it.

Jonathan
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

I am an ardent women’s college basketball fan. I have seen thousands of games in person and on tv. I have seen rough physical play, elbows, and intentional fouls more times than I can remember. I’ve never called any of those players thugs. I’ve seen one punch thrown. Griner reacted to frustration and anger with brutish physical violence. That makes her a thug in my view.

Though I mostly lurk, I have witnessed your other pissing matches on this site and refuse to be drawn into one myself. This will be my last reply on this subject.

Steve
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

This is probably just the usual double standard and privilege athletes get. It starts with high school jocks and then gets ridiculous at college, which is basically a semi-professional multi-billion dollar business, often to the detriment of real education.

You can bet if she were a normal student it wouldn’t be ignored.

Priya Lynn
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

What you call frustration and anger was also a physical assault – you’re minimizing/ignoring what the other player did to Griner. She was physically assaulted and she responded with a punch. An escalation perhaps, but not an unexpected response to the provocation and one many people would have made. Your attempt to paint this as black and white is dishonest.

Priya Lynn
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

Steve, it wasn’t ignored, she was punished for her response.

Steve
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

I was talking about her being gay. Sorry.

Priya Lynn
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

My mistake, Steve.

Steve
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

Nah, could be read either way and I wasn’t clear what I was responding to :)

Zeldamina
April 24th, 2013 | LINK

I dunno, didn’t we just have a whole big article about how such inveterate heterosupremacists as Jerry Falwell can be nice to our faces and blithely oppressive anyway? I feel like evangelicals are more than capable of maintaining that.

Randy Potts
April 25th, 2013 | LINK

@Zeldamina, I agree with you that these leaders are probably not going to like us. But I do think that especially at the college level we’re going to see more of them showing us more and more deference. I think we’ll be kicked out less and less, etc. as a result of pressure from the student body and eventually parents as well.

Reed
April 26th, 2013 | LINK

Most days I hope that Bryan Fischer WILL end “not with a bang, but a whimper” in just the same fashion as Guy Fawkes (i.e., drawn and quartered), but as I mellow I’m leaning more toward the apathetic “Mr. Kurtz, he dead” that forms the rest of “Hollow Men’s” epigraph.

Timothy (TRiG)
April 26th, 2013 | LINK

Did she “come out”? I thought I read some articles saying she already was out, but it’s just recently got into the news.

TRiG.

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