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Posts for May, 2012

It’s Still 1967 at Biola University

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2012

I think the opening paragraph in this report says it all:

Officials at a private Christian university in Southern California held a “family discussion” on Friday after revelations of a community of homosexual students rocked the 100-year-old campus. [Emphasis added]

I had to check the dateline to make sure it was 2012. Biola University is an evangelical campus of 6,000-plus students south of Los Angeles, and they are shocked — actually, “rocked” — to find that a few of them are gay. A group of Biola University students made themselves known a few weeks ago by creating a web site, asking “to be treated with equality and respected as another facet of Biola’s diversity.” That web site drew a lengthy response (PDF: 172KB/4 pages), reminding everyone that “all members of the University community are expected to following the teachings of scripture” before reiterating Biola’s position regarding “any act of sexual intimacy between two persons of the same sex, as illegitimate moral options for the confessing Christian.”

MSNBC has followed up on the group which “has shaken this 104-year-old Christian college”:

Chris Grace, vice president for student development at Biola, said the school would like to engage in conversation with the underground group but has been stymied by the members’ anonymity. “We really are at a disadvantage here because we don’t know who these people are,” Grace said, adding that the university would “love and welcome a conversation with them and that’s what we are hoping for.”

But members of BQU, who would only comment for this story anonymously, fear that by “coming out” they would be punished and possibly expelled. They said they consider themselves Christians “first and foremost” and love Biola, and are not looking to create “a war” on campus, but they are looking to have an open discussion about what it means to be Christian and gay.

Eventually, Members of the group would like to “come out” and be open about their sexuality. “It’s important to our integrity to not have parts of us be hidden even among the Christian community,” a member said.

In 1967, Time reported on what was believed to be the first gay students group in the nation forming on the campus of Columbia University. Like these Biola University students, they too feared identifying themselves. Biola University is only 26 miles from West Hollywood, but 45 years away from the first stirrings of dignity on its own campus. That’s a lot of catching up to do.