Greenville, S.C.—The Soulforce Equality Riders, a gay and lesbian activist group, has informed Bob Jones University that it intends to visit BJU’s campus April 4 as part of an 18-stop tour of Christian colleges and universities that maintain a Bible-based position on homosexuality. Bob Jones University has informed Soulforce that the Equality Riders will not be granted access to the BJU campus or to the student body.
The group is seeking opportunities to challenge institutional policies relating to sexual behavior with the goal of convincing schools to change their policies and how they execute them.
Last spring the Equality Ride visited 19 schools and military academies, including Liberty University, Regent University, Oral Roberts University, Brigham Young University, Wheaton College, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Military Academy. Reception at these schools was mixed. Some schools denied the Equality Riders campus access. In some instances, the riders disregarded a particular school’s position by attempting to enter campus and were arrested. Other schools welcomed the riders and established official forums for debate and discussion.
The 2007 Equality Ride will feature two teams, one visiting 18 institutions in the eastern U.S. and a second team targeting 16 schools in the West. First stops are Dordt College (Sioux Center, IA) and Notre Dame University (Notre Dame, IN) on March 8-9. The tour will conclude April 26 with a joint visit by both teams at Bethany Lutheran College (Mankato, MN). Headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia, Soulforce has for nearly a decade protested religious denominations and organizations that maintain a Bible-based stance on homosexuality. According to their website, they seek to make known the harmful effects of the biblical teaching that homosexuality is a sin. The group began targeting educational institutions in earnest in 2006. Soulforce contacted Bob Jones University last October, requesting a forum on the BJU campus during the 2007 Equality Ride tour to discuss gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues with administrators, faculty, and students.
“Scriptural teaching on homosexuality is consistent in the Old and New Testaments,” said Dr. Stephen Jones, president of Bob Jones University. “The track record and stated goals of this group demonstrate that their objective is not to conduct two-way dialogue, but to pressure us to compromise our Biblical stand and change our policies.”
The first of BJU’s three core values is love for and faithfulness to God and His Word. “The Bible takes primacy here,” Dr. Jones said, “and our position is shared by millions who believe that where the Bible speaks clearly, there is no room for dialogue.”
“We have a tremendous responsibility to our students and their parents,” said Carol Keirstead, BJU chief communications officer. “Parents from every state in the country entrust their young people to us, expecting us to teach them God’s Word and a Bible-based lifestyle. We cannot promote dialogue with a group that would undermine that trust or hinder our helping students integrate the truth of God’s Word into their daily living.”
“The same Biblical commitment that keeps us from affirming homosexual practice drives us to demonstrate the love of Christ to the 26 riders on the eastern tour,” Dr. Jones said. “We all have built-in desires God calls sin, and the answer for sin is forgiveness and change. Both are possible in Christ.”
BJU students, faculty, and staff are being asked to pray by name for each rider on the east tour, and the University is making plans to demonstrate the love of Christ in tangible ways to the Soulforce team as opportunities arise.