Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Thoughts on Soulforce at BYU: xenophobia: Is it acceptible for a Christian faith to condemn and judge others?

A week or two ago I recieved an e-mail from a good friend talking about an event on her campus. She attends Brigham Young University, and there is an event taking place there on April 10 involving Soulforce, a group committed to "freedom fro lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance." The following is the text from the e-mail I recieved.

Just today, though, I got this email from BYU that led me to an additional option:

"Over the weekend some of you received an E-mail message from the group Soulforce, which is planning to come to Provo on April 10 as part of a nationwide tour. A few of you asked if BYU is aware of this visit and how we intend to respond.
We are aware and simply intend to follow general university policy. Although a private university, BYU has an open campus. Individuals may come onto our campus so long as they are courteous and engage in civil dialogue that is not disruptive to the campus community. Individuals may not, however, harass our students, faculty or staff or use our campus as a public forum in violation of BYU’s public-expression policy. This policy applies to anyone or any organization that wishes to come onto our campus. As we have already communicated to Soulforce, BYU will not change its policies or practices to accommodate the group’s desire to promote its initiatives.
As with all visitors to our campus, we appreciate the respectful manner in which you treat them. Should members of Soulforce decide to visit our campus in keeping with BYU’s policies, we know you will show them this same civility. However, no one is under any obligation to visit with or listen to a member of this group."

Made me curious, to say the least--I'd never heard of Soulforce, though you may have. So I did some research: Turns out it's an organization committed to fighting religious and political oppression of GLBT people. The group, as explained in BYU's rather terse and evasive notice, is specifically visiting Provo as part of its Equality Ride (
So... sorry, about the novel here, but point is... .

They're looking for volunteers to help with their rally or whatever they're doing down here. So if you're interested or you know anyone who might be... let me know, because I'm seriously considering doing something but I'm a little shy about it on my own.

After reading the information included in her e-mail, as well as going to the Soulforce website (see above link) I was very interested in supporting the group and their ambitions. I talked to my friend the next day and she told me about some articles in BYU's newspaper addressing the event and how BYU students "should" respond to it.

My friend was very upset by the hypocrisy she saw in these articles as well as in some overriding thought processes of many students at her university. In her angst, she decided to write a letter to the editor, which was published. She posted it on her website and I strongly reccommend all of you to read it and the comments that follow.

I was astounded at the weakness and illogical arguements used in the first comment. As found in my reply I began to refute the arguements in the best and most effective ways I could. I plan on writing a blog following this to expand upon my comment and provide a clearer explanation of my views. I welcome any enlightened intellectual debate on the issue, please leave comments!