Something powerful, ctd

Yesterday I posted about HU Queer Press, an online magazine published by an anonymous group of LGBTQ students at my alma mater, Harding Unviversity. Since then the issue has gotten a lot of press, including Jezebel, The New Yorker blog, KARK, and others.

I got a call earlier today from a gay Harding student who is upset by HUQP’s approach to the issue and says that some of what they say is factually incorrect. I said that if he wanted to write a response, I’d publish it for him and keep him anonymous as well. I’ll reserve my reactions for the comment space, and would love to hear other views as well. Here’s what he said:

I am a gay student currently attending Harding University who wants to voice my own experiences and give voice to the experiences of other gay students at HU.  While the accounts presented in “The State of The Gay” e-zine are compelling, sad, frustrating, and even downright infuriating, they are not representative of the current environment on campus.

Harding University does not have a rule against “being gay.”  I am open about my sexuality all over campus—to students, faculty, staff, and members of the administration.  The fact that I am a gay man is common knowledge, not just at Harding University, but also at my church (a Church of Christ). Never once have I been threatened with expulsion or forced reparative therapy.  If anyone was threatened with disciplinary action unless they received counseling, it was not for simply identifying themselves as gay.   When a rule is broken, action is taken, but there is no rule against “being gay.”  This hasn’t always been the case, and Harding isn’t a perfect place. Is there bigotry there?  Yes, and we must deal with that.  We should not blast them, however, for things that simply aren’t true.

Additionally, there is a growing impression that Integrity Ministries at Harding is a place where people are forced to go and be “fixed.”  This is simply not true.  Everyone who is a part of Integrity Ministries is there of their own free will and choice.  The names of the persons attending meetings and/or utilizing resources are not even known by anyone in the administration, faculty, or staff. Students approach the ministry, the ministry does not approach (or impose upon) students, and their identity is kept highly confidential.

If the ethic driving the current debate is freedom of choice, then we must extend that freedom to those whose faith and personal relationship with God have led them to CHOOSE to address their sexuality in the way they see fit. The reason my friends and I remain anonymous in this debate is not because we fear oppression from Harding University—but the exact opposite.  Those who are driving this debate are not allowing us our own freedom, and not creating a “safe place” for us to be honest about who we are and who we want to be.  These people who demand a safe place for themselves are guilty of denying the same thing to us.  At Harding University, we have found many, many, many people who are loving, accepting, nurturing, and inclusive.  Simply put:  HUQueerPress does not represent the majority of gay students at Harding University, and everyone at the University (administration included) is not the grotesque stereotype that HUQueerPress is trying to make them out to be.

–Joe Gay


03 2011

29 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. DH #

    Thank you Joe Gay! I appreciate someone standing up for Harding. I know that Harding is not what the HUQP says. In my opinion, and that is not much, these people are angry that Harding will not allow them to have a sexual relationship while attending and that is it. I don’t know what it feels like to be attracted to the same sex but I can understand that it is tough. I struggle with the desire to use drugs and alcohol like I once did. I guess what I am trying to say is I, like everyone else, knows what it feels like to struggle with sin. With that being said I would never bully or hurt anyone that Christ died for and I know a ton of people at Harding that would do the same. There are bigots everywhere, but it is rare to find the people on this earth that will show the love to the hurting like Harding will. God bless you guys that are hurting so bad. I hope you can let peace in.

    • 2

      There are indeed bigots everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they come in the same proportion. As HU Queer Press writes, there are plenty of people who are understanding at Harding (if you got another impression you should read again — most of the friends they mention are actually very supportive). But there are also a lot more bigots, and people who cloak their bigotry in a veneer of scripture, then you find most other places.
      You might not realize it, but comparing being gay to being something you struggle with like drug or alcohol addiction is inherently hurtful. That some gay people agree that their identity is a sin just shows you how deeply places like Harding can mess people up.
      Some people at Harding may show love to the hurting, but that’s not saying much when the hurting stems from the views they spread in the first place. That’s like saying “wow, our hospital is such a great place because we take care of all of the people we accidentally hurt during surgery.” Why are they hurting about being gay in the first place? Because of the poisonous views perpetuated by institutions like Harding.

    • Emily #

      Brett, as a good friend of both of ours says, “the very best and the very worst of people I have ever know are associated with Harding.”

      Thanks for allowing Joe Gay to have his voice heard, too.

  2. Caleb Keese #

    This is copied from a conversation between Brett and myself earlier today. And I’m taking his advice and adding it to this follow up.
    If you feel isolated from the Christian Community in Searcy, take courage God is moving in this community to make a place for LGBT people in the hearts of His Church.

    ” I’m not talking about something that’s happening behind the scenes here. I’m talking about a dear friend of mine and yours who is gay, standing in front of Downtown Church of Christ and Fellowship Bible Church and telling his story…

    That’s brazen and bold.

    The way people have taken this in has been nothing short of an act of God. I’ve seen regular good old boy heterosexual Arkansas men unabashedly hug a gay man IN CHURCH and tell him that his story has changed the way they think about the world. When he spoke at my church the response was overwhelmingly positive and affirming.

    While the content of the Queer Press zine is graphically honest and brazen, their approach of writing in anonymity is not. And by making their stories faceless they’ve made it easier for people to dismiss them. When the average person in this community reads this zine, they don’t see a group of people who are hurting and want to be loved and accepted for who they are. They see content that is very offensive to them written by people they don’t know and can’t relate to and therefore don’t want to have any part of.

    To the writers of the State of the Gay at HU, if any of you are reading this… I don’t share your persecution but I know what its like to be at Harding University and to be told that who you are is not acceptable to us.

    I want to be the first to apologize to you for the way you’ve been treated by this community. If we as the church had been fulfilling the role that God created us to fulfill which is to love people unconditionally, then you would never feel like you had to write anonymously about who you are. I love you and my heart breaks for you. And I am here to tell you that I am not the only heterosexual Christian in this community that feels this way.”

    -Caleb Keese

  3. 5

    To Joe Gay:
    I respect that you disagree with HUQP, but I think your experiences aren’t necessarily representative either. In fact, it’s probably impossible to know truly how most gay people at Harding feel because the ones who are hurting the most are likely the most closeted.

    You may be accepted for who you are, but that doesn’t mean others are equally so. I can see how a freshman arriving on campus, confused about their own identity and their place at Harding, would not find the environment as welcoming. Do you really think your experience is the norm? From what @HUQueerPress is saying, they’ve been getting a lot of feedback from students saying what they describe rings true — how can that be explained if everyone is accepted for who they are?

    You say if someone is threatened with reparative therapy they must have done something other than just admitting their gay. That’s probably true, but it doesn’t make the threat less troubling. Straight students are disciplined for sexual misconduct (if they’re caught) but they aren’t told that what they did is fundamentally against God’s plan and that they can never be fulfilled. That seems to be a pretty different reaction to me.

    I must say I really don’t understand your argument about freedom of choice. I don’t see how HUQP deciding to share their stories infringes on your decision to address your sexuality in the way you see fit. They’re sharing their stories, and talking about how they don’t feel accepted. I just don’t see how their “demanding a safe place for themselves” makes them “guilty of denying the same thing to us”. They don’t feel safe, they don’t feel accepted, and they’re talking about it. If you feel like things are fine, what’s wrong with them saying things haven’t gone far enough and things still aren’t right?
    You say “At Harding University, we have found many, many, many people who are loving, accepting, nurturing, and inclusive.” They seem to say that too, as they describe many people who are supportive of them. But not everyone. I don’t see the grotesque stereotype you describe — I see some good in people, some bad in people, and some bad in institution.

  4. DH #

    In response to Brett…I don’t think being gay is a sin anymore than being a drug addict or alcoholic. What I do think is a sin is the acts that come from it. I think it is pretty clear that scripture says that the sexual acts from homosexuality are a sin. Using drugs or alcohol to alleviate the pain life brings is also a sin. That is the point I was trying to make. I can honestly say that it was probably not the best illustration, because both are viewed very differently. I was just trying to offer some sympathy in a way that I have felt the pain that life brings. That is all. I was not trying to be hurtful. I was just wanting to be helpful, which seems i failed at.

  5. GS #

    to DH-
    I do not follow your logic–homosexuality is not a sin, and sex is not a sin, but homosexual sex is a sin? Are heterosexual people just blessed to be allowed to act on their attractions? I would like to hear what you think about sex more generally, because if you believe sex is a beautiful and natural part of a loving union between partners in a heterosexual couple and not just a procreative act, why should homosexual couples be denied this same deepening of spiritual union through physical union? From what you’ve said, it seems that you don’t deny the existence and legitimacy of homosexual attraction, but you deny the right of homosexual partners, at least within the frame of reference of Christianity, to act sexually based on their attractions.

    Also, I think we should avoid generalizing about the Bible as a text of great clarity. I believe that the personal decisions made by Christians about their beliefs with regard to the Bible can be greatly influenced by the choices that were made in the texts’ translation. Sometimes things just don’t translate. Some supposed references to homosexuality may not be what we once thought they were. I don’t think questioning the text illegitimizes it, as i don’t believe that unswervingly affirming its clarity legitimates its integrity. To understand we must question and consider, not just imbibe and spout.


    • Jonathan #

      If I might recommend a book that treats homosexuality as a whole very lovingly, I would suggest Richard B. Hays’ The Moral Vision of the New Testament. I’m in an Ethics class over at ACU right now, and this book is out major text. In his chapter related to homosexuality, he talks about one of his close friends who was gay and struggled with the relationship of homosexuality to the church. Basically, Hays goes through all the Scriptures commonly connected to homosexuality and assesses their use in the discussion. Of particular interest is Romans 1, where Paul seems to understand homosexuality as a result of humanity’s fallen nature (which might also imply that sexual orientation is not a choice; Hays does address that orientation was not a concept at all in the first century). However, he believes that the Biblical witness always speaks against homosexual actions. Again, reading the chapter, at the very least, would be much better than my description. I will spoil the end. He believes people who are homosexual should be welcomed into the church, that the church should not deny rights to people who are homosexual, but that practicing homosexual actions does not coincide with God’s original intent for the world and celibacy is the only option for people who are homosexual (and people who are heterosexual and unmarried according to the law). However, he recognizes that people within the church will have differing opinions about this matter, and no one should be cut off on account of a different opinion. Perhaps we will all one day agree to something, but for the time being, he believes living in tension acceptable.

    • GS #


      I appreciate your reply, but neither you nor DH has responded to my question of how you can reconcile acknowledgment and acceptance of homosexuality with the simultaneous expectation that those people remain unsatisfied in their romantic relationships. Again, if sex is in fact more than a procreative act, should it really be limited to heterosexual couples? I don’t think that sexual immorality should be defined to include physical union of committed homosexual partners. It seems more reasonable to me for a person to accept one of two ideas: either disagree with the parts of the Bible considered referent to homosexuality and support both the identity of LGBT folk and accept that they, therefore, should experience the same God-given pleasure of sex as heterosexuals; or if one believes that he/she must reverence the Bible (or the translation/interpretation of the Bible that we or the Church has come to accept) in its entirety and that because homosexual sex is a sin, homosexuality is not legitimate.

      I obviously agree with the first. I don’t want to impose my beliefs on anyone else, but it seems to me that you and others may have come to accept the validity of homosexuality, the reality of same-sex attraction (and beyond that, LOVE) for many people, perhaps having friends, family members, fellow human beings who’ve expressed the sentiment, but perhaps you could not reconcile this with what seem to us explicit prohibition of homosexual sex, so the only solution you can see is celibacy. I just want to understand the logic that allows one to acknowledge the attraction and love between two human beings but deny them a blessing of all other loving relationships. I’ve never encountered this opinion before, perhaps because I have only been exposed to the more conservative view of my own church and the much more liberal perspective which I share with many others. Your view is perhaps more puzzling to me than the idea in complete opposition to my own.

  6. JE #

    The Bible speaks more about gluttony then it does homosexuality. I wonder why they are not expelling the chubby kid going back through the cafeteria line for seconds? That is certainly within his control and results in “active sining”. Following their logic, shouldn’t any chubby student be forced to go through the weight watchers ministry “You Can Be Slim” program in order to stay in school? JE

  7. Jules #

    I’m sure that for this gentlemen his truth is real. However, as like many things for us to fit we take the heteronorm and become blind to the true story that is going on. Sometimes to protective ourselves, LGBT, we turn a blind eye so that we are safe and comfortable. However, it is far from the truth. In what ways is this person out? Out with an apology? Out in saying I’m queer, but don’t practice? These are ways that a lot of LGBT survive in situations much like this.

    An the HUQueerPress being anonymous, we all take steps towards taking the “cloak” off ourselves. These brave individuals took one step, they spoke! In their own time and way they will reveal themselves, but to play down what they did because they kept themselves anonymous is not understanding the real fears and pressures LGBT people go through. I kept myself very anonymous when first trying to battle my church of Christ background and my sexuality, but as time went on the small steps I did in being anonymous gave me strength to pull the cloak off. The only way their voices become a way to “shove off” is how those who hear use it. Will they listen and try to respectfully understand their view? So far I see young adults and adults alike shove it away by throwing scripture at it and making light (which is straight privilege at it’s best). Queers are not going to go away because scripture was thrown around carelessly or because some want to make light of it.

  8. Danachilton #

    To joe gay:

    I grew up a gay male in the church. Being gay was an issue to some, but not all. I helped found youth groups and ministered to youth groups in three congregations. Like you, I was included in church life because while I admitted to being gay I also agreed that
    acting on those feelings was a sin. I agreed that I could eventually change or at least adjust my behavior. I believed that everyone had a choice. My love for God and for the church would help me through it. Fortunately the coc is not pentecostal and many believe in using logic and reason to find answers. As someone who has been where you are my heart breaks for you and for what you will endure. I hope someday that you stop hating yourself for how you were born. Youre not abnormal. Being gay is not a sin. kissing another boy is not a sin. Your orientation is not something you can change and I hope that you find that out sooner rather than later…before you lose out on love and before you damage the lives of others by preaching that acting on your sexuality is wrong.

  9. Danachilton #

    Also, thank you Brett for posting this!

  10. Tim Brinley #

    Do we really understand love? Better than the apostle Paul, as directed by Jesus? Love is not accepting every behavior or lifestyle of those who identify with Jesus and us as brothers and sisters, in fact scripture enjoins us “not to associate”, “not even eat”, “expel”, “hand over such a man to Satan”. Jesus would say: “Go and sin no more”. To the degree that we are a community of faith based on the Words of Christ and the Apostles we will obey this teaching along with the rest of scripture. The sin discussed here doesn’t stand alone and is listed with a number of other serious public sins, that are to be judged within the community of those faithful to Jesus.
    Does this make other sin unimportant? Never, but it does make these sin’s particularly dangerous and important to be dealt with. Otherwise we are unfaithful and at great risk.

    The accusation that some are hiding behind scripture with their homophobia assumes that the Scriptures are not of primary importance to them or to the ones making the accusation. If you say that the scripture is being used as a tool by those who don’t really believe them and are just trying to punish that which they fear or are uncomfortable with then you imply that the poor motive of the one who is “hiding behind scripture” in rejecting the homosexual lifestyle is more important to you than the scripture itself. That may be the case for you. However, someone’s impure motive in their use of the word of God in no way negates the truth or importance of the word of God itself. That is if you truly accept it as the word of God.

    The accusation therefore begs the question: “Is the word of the God as given through the apostles and prophets of primary importance to how you live your life and base your faith?” If you are not interested in moving in that direction with your life, if that is not your goal, then I believe you have come to the wrong University. There are many others that would suit you fine. If your goal is to change the purpose of this University, then I believe it to be the obligation of the leaders of the University and Student Body of Harding to do as the apostle Paul directs below.

    Harding University is not the church of Christ, but an institution serving churches of Christ and the world that it influences. It is very inextricably entwined with the church. It tries to do it’s best to navigate the difficult waters of making Christian Education accessible to as many as possible of the children of members of churches of Christ and hopefully beyond. This involves making decisions that are not based on any polarizing opinions that might exist regarding disputable matters. Nevertheless the University will and does reflect to some degree the overall conditions within the brotherhood of the churches of Christ, Harding’s student body, and our national culture.
    This makes it’s responses measured and requires consideration of Federal, State, and local laws, whether it agrees with or condones them, including laws that allow students to be able to receive loans enabling them to attend the University, just as on the other hand the concerns of it’s donors.
    When these laws are at odds with scriptures, the University is in a difficult position, and the principle of civil disobedience raised by the apostle Peter, “we must obey God rather than man” becomes relevant.

    I would encourage you to be understanding of the challenging task of inviting 1000’s of students of various backgrounds to your institution to receive an education, while being faithful to your mission and your God. Whether you agree with Harding’s mission or not, certainly should determine how comfortable you will feel with being an alumnus and how comfortable they will be with having you as one. This is likewise true of the local church, and is why the kinds of things were written to the churches in the New Testament period, and that churches of the Restoration Movement generally hold as primary in terms of the lifestyle and discipline that is expected of their fellow members.

    I would urge you to carefully consider:

    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

    and again in this same context:

    Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

    And further,
    I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you:

    what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

    (1 Cor 5 and 6, Romans 1, 2 Cor 7)

    We all have to decide whether these words are only the words of Paul, a man of his times, or the pen of the Holy Spirit of God. I believe you can’t have it both ways. Once you choose the first, you could likely be happy as a Moslem, Buddhist, Idolater, or… take your pick, the field is wide open and well explored. You know where the church of Christ has stood…and I hope will be able to stand. We are definitely going against the flow.

    • 15

      Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor…

      Colossians 3:22

      Paul was VERY MUCH a man of his times.

    • CGregory #

      Thank you, Tim! I believe this wholeheartedly, but was not able to express it in such a clear and straightforward fashion. These scriptures are true and relative to the issues we are facing today. I am praying for wisdom and strength for everyone struggling with and facing these issues.

  11. CN #

    Nice try, S. Tyler, but your comparing an issue which the Bible is about, to one that the Bible clearly condemns.

  12. CN #


  13. CN #

    One more try!
    What I meant to say is…
    Nice try, S. Tyler, but you’re comparing an issue which the Bible is silent about, to one that the Bible clearly condemns.

    Whew, this computer stuff is tricky.

    • 20

      But the bible isn’t silent about slavery. Paul is condoning it and even gives guidelines multiple times. The old testament contains chapter upon chapter about how to own, buy, sell, treat and sex slaves.

      also, what is an Idolater? is that a religion or just some biblical buzz word?

    • David Johnson #

      Tyler, please stop spitting that garbage about slavery. I know you gave faith the boot a long time ago and now bizarrely believe that you are a “free thinker”, being completely enslaved to certain forms of naturalistic thinking, but please accept that citing contextless Scriptures to “prove” that the Bible writers were eager for their audience to own slaves does nothing to advance your case except in the eyes of the Godless choir you’re preaching to.

    • 22

      I feel like there are several points I could answer in that post but I’ll leave them be for now. I’ll even drop the slavery thing until Mr. Howard finishes his thoughts.

      Let it suffice to say that it seems the bible, not to mention the many who have used it’s hypnotic power over the years, landed on the wrong side of some pretty big moral issues at first. Now as humanity has evolved, we’ve fixed these problems and let the bible just kind of grow obsolete in places. How many more problems are there? I don’t know. But telling someone to shut up is certainly no way to discover anything.

    • NKS #

      I’ll weigh in in support of S. Tyler by quoting someone who says it better than I could, the Religious Tolerance website based in Ontario:

      “A human sexuality and progressive Christian viewpoint:
      Human sexuality researchers and others who have studied the nature of sexual orientation might reject Paul’s belief that homosexuality is beyond the normal. Many religious liberals reject Paul’s condemnation of homosexual behavior, particularly when Paul’s support for the oppression of women, and his acceptance of slavery as a normal social practice in (Philemon 1:15 to 16) are considered. They might feel that this passage in 1 Romans should be rejected as immoral and outside the will of God, much as other biblical passages are immoral by today’s ethical standards and should be ignored — including those passages that regulated human slavery, required some hookers to be burned alive, advocated genocide, required victims of rape to marry their rapist, recognized the torture of prisoners, and required the execution of non-virgin brides.”

      CLEARLY slavery isn’t the only area that Paul’s own personality along with the acceptable mores of the time shine through. I also have to agree with GS above regarding the many and various translations the bible has gone through over the centuries not to mention (although I will) the various and sundry beliefs and controlling agendas of those who have commissioned the various translations through the centuries.

  14. Logan #

    I am a current student at Harding University, while I am not homosexual, I have friends who are, and a lot of people have been discussing something that every blog or news article has seemed to forgotten, and that’s the rules of Harding.

    This is the link to Harding’s Handbook: , Upon searching the document, you’ll notice there isn’t any mention about expuslion or forced therapy for being homosexual. If you look at halfway down page 4 it states, “Social wellness is stressed, and students in the Christian university environment must exclude all forms of sexual immorality, pornography and profanity from their activities. (section 4).” Page 11 deals with all forms of “Social Wellness”

    Reading page 11 shows that heterosexual couples who “Staying overnight in a motel, hotel or any such arrangement with a member of the opposite gender will result in suspension, although explicit sexual immorality may not have been observed.” Not only are sexual acts of any kind punished, but drinking, going to bars/clubs, and smoking tobacco (even if you are of legal age) can result in explusion if you are caught. Being that it’s a Christian University, Harding has to have strict rules in place to comply with their mission statement.

    The reason was blocked on the University’s internet was because of its explicit material and comments about Harding and its staff. Not because it was homosexual, as noted by the chapel announcement make by Harding’s president Dr. Burks
    ( ). Another thing to note is that multiple websites are blocked by the firewall, not just HUQueerPress. (Ex. Myspace, Picnic, twitpic, some online gaming sites, etc.)

    My final point is that not everyone on campus is a condemning, close-minded, hateful bigot that we are made out to be. You may say there are people hiding behind scriptures and say things about homosexuality being a sin in spite of people, seeming just to make them feel bad about their lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean every Christian does! I love analogies so hopefully this will convey my thinking, imagine seeing someone about to step into a busy street because they’re not paying attention. You reach out and grab them to prevent them from being hit by an oncoming car. They look up at you angrily that you’ve grabbed them because the “walk” light was on and there wasn’t actually any danger. Christians are people too, a lot of us are just trying to live the best life we can and help others along the way, sometimes our ways of “helping” come off as hurtful. We can sit here all day and point fingers but the hurting isn’t going to stop and peace isn’t going to come until we look through each others eyes and communicate.

    On a more personal note, I’ve talked to a lot of my fellow students and we’ve wanted to find a way to publicly say that we love everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, social class or religious backgrounds. I hope that these events that have happened don’t push everyone farther apart but bring us all together as people who all love and serve our almighty God.

    I hope I haven’t been too confusing, I’m obviously not an English major! =]

    God bless you all

  15. 25

    Its great to see another side of this debate. I was pretty ‘out’ at Harding when I attended from 1998-2003. However, it was absolutely the position of the administration at that time that openly gay students would be expelled.

    I don’t have any experience, or know anyone that had an experience, with ‘conversion’ therapy while at Harding.

    However, I do have two very good friends that were kicked out because they were gay. They didnt have sex while at Harding, but they DID come out of the closet to the dean of students (I cant remember his name.. he was this larger african american guy that ended up taking a job at a public university in Georgia only to come back to Harding because he wasnt able to ‘adjust’ to life at a secular university).

    One of my friends was expelled because his roommate reported to the Dean that he (my friend) was gay. The Dean then went through his room, found his calendar/planner (this was 1998 after all) called everyone in it to ask about whether my friend was gay or not (he literally tracked me down in the art department after hours to blindside me because I wouldnt return his calls). After my friend (and another friend of mine that got caught up in the impromptu witch hunt) was asked directly by the Dean if he was gay. he didn’t lie and so he was kicked out.

    So why wasnt I kicked out? Im not entirely sure. My theory is that one or two of my professors headed it off by going above the Deans head… but i’ll never know for sure.

    To be fair to Harding, aside from a couple isolated incidents involving bible/psych faculty, the majority of the faculty were very tolerant, if not down right accepting. And after that particular Dean left Harding I dont remember hearing about any other gay students being treated poorly.

    Aside from those incidents my time at Harding was incredibly positive. Im glad to hear that they no longer blindly kick gay students out.

    • 26

      I just remembered. The Dean involved was the Dean of Students at the time Terry Davis.

    • anon #

      I remember when Harding changed rules to disallow smoking, and when racial bigotry was commonplace. “Mixed-couples” were a no-no, etc. It seems to me that Harding is growing out of those things and becoming something admirable … without selling out their supporters, alumni and principles. Too often the pendulum swings too far in each direction for a while. This time (I’m shocked to say) it seems like they got it about right.

      I would also like to reflect on another experience of mine. when I was in the US Navy, our aircraft carrier had writings circulating that made it appear as though the KKK was on board and ready to lynch black sailors. Tension was high. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the notes were fake – designed to create a problem that didn’t exist. This anonymous collection of ugly comments about Harding and her students may be true, but it’s equally possible that it’s entirely the work of one angry person.

      Let’s pray that Harding’s leaders show tact, grace and wisdom through this. And most of all, that everyone concerned try practicing the golden rule.

  16. Bob Perkins #

    I attended Harding in the late 70’s. I very clearly remember believing that homosexuality was a “sin” and being upset to hear about somebody somewhere planning to make a movie about Jesus being gay. (I was too dimwitted to realize that such a project would just be silly, not blasphemous.) But wheels turn and now I’m a happy member of the United Church of Christ and attended an “open and affirming” church that celebrates being who one is created to be, has gay and straight pastors and where my kids find it puzzling to think that some people think being gay is a problem.

    I don’t expect to live long enough to see any dramatic policy changes at Harding, but I think the conversation this is creating is vital and important. As several folks have pointed out, this is a core issue for Harding, not because it’s about sex but because it’s about what the Bible is. Is the Bible God’s revealed word and will for people? Of course, there are some questions about consistency of interpretation by those who profess belief that the Bible sets forth clear and detailed rules; and I agree with those who suspect there’s more to aversion toward homosexuality than simple scriptural interpretation since other sins are regarded less harshly. (Let’s call this the “icky” factor.) But, to be honest, one does head down an uncertain path when one starts this sort of questioning: “Well, if that’s not what God really thinks, then what DOES God really think about anything?” I personally think it’s a path which we’re called to walk as humans, trusting that God is always there. But trusting to that path is a whole lot different proposition than following a “rule book.”

  17. ChurchofChristisaCult #

    @Godmund Shick. The witch hunt you describe sounds so familiar, these witch hunts went on when I was a student at Harding. People could be kicked out of school simply based on a rumor that they broke a certain rule. They had campus security spying on people, peeking into windows, going through garbage cans in the dormitories, you name it. I don’t have a problem with a university making rules for students to follow. I DO have a problem with witch hunts, spying, lies, rumors and backstabbing. Also, I did know of gay students who had difficulties at Harding in how they were treated by fellow students. I am not gay, nor was I ever expelled from the university. I did graduate, which I regret to this day. I wish I had gone to a different university.

    Some here describe Harding students as loving, blah blah blah. I found too many at Harding who were just nasty, rude, mean and spite-filled. I have met much kinder, more Christ-like people at state universities – people who actually have better things to do with their time, than dig through someone’s trash can.

    I have never been to a single Harding reunion, and frankly am glad. I don’t want to see their ugly faces ever again!

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