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!


Jacquie said...

Hi Ali,

Thanks for your comment on my blog.

I wish I had something to add to your arguements that hasn't been said many times before and that would make a difference.

It is exactly this kind of thing that leads me to believe that some organised religions are actually quite evil because they can destroy the lives of people who feel they cannot live the way the religion dictates. I guess that may sound quite strong, but that is what I believe.

As Sam may have mentioned I do not believe in god, but I do believe Jesus was a real live person who tried to teach people to live a good life. I think he would be absolutely horrified if he knew how some people who claim to represent him are behaving.

Anonymous said...

From someone who cares:
I am very proud of you.Your comments are far-reaching and well-articulated. This is one of the most important lessons you will ever learn; to think, speak, and listen. You will never find that "everyone" agrees with you. You will not always understand how others can be so "wrong." However, you must speak out against what you perceive are the injustices of society even if the issues aren't popular or deemed important by others. Remember to be respectful of others' opinions and ideas; listen to what they have to say. But be your own person. Think your own thoughts. And keeping fighting the good fight. Eye luv u.

Liz Muir said...

Ouch Ali. I have actually thought about my arguments, but I guess I didn't do the best job at showing the rational behind them. Sometime tonight I should be posting a more thorough, CS Lewis style explanation which might help you to understand why I feel that way.

The thing that is really bothering me about this argument is that neither you nor "not too pensive" have actually tried to convince anyone of anything. Convincing implies that we try to understand why the other person believes as they do. Have either of you tried thinking about that? Not really. The arguing appears to be just that: arguing. Not debating, understanding, or dialogue.

The problem with any argument about gay rights is that it's such an emotional issue that people are afraid to actually sit down and think about it, for fear their minds might be changed. One side is very worried about people they know and love, and the other is just as concerned about values and truths very close to their own personal center. So long as we keep yelling our own trite phrases at each other, we can never really understand one another.

This is why I believe that listening to SoulForce would have been essentially pointless to me. First, I already know their point of view, so I don't need to listen for diversity's sake. Second, they don't care about my view, as evidenced by their "arguments" about the Bible, cited by "not too pensive": totally writer based, and not at all addressing an audience about their own concerns. Third, neither of us has any chance of convincing the other. Therefore, any so-called dialogue really is pointless.

Now, if SoulForce had actually come to discuss homosexuality rationally, and were actually willing to listen to my counterarguments, and respond rationally, with valid arguments instead of with blatent propaganda, then we would have a dialogue. Then I would listen.

Liz Muir said...

Hey, is that post coming any time soon, Ali?

Alison said...

Yeah, I've been really busy lately, but hopefully I'll have time to write it soon!