Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Equality Ride
My friend just got arrested yesterday. She wasn't doing anything malicious or destructive, she was merely speaking out against discrimination and oppression.

My friend Brandy Daniels is currently a member of the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride. Soulforce's mission is to work towards"freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance." The Equality Ride is a religiously inspired project of Soulforce in which two separate bus loads of gay and lesbian students and straight allies travel to various Christian colleges around to country to raise awareness about the discrimination faced by homosexual students at these schools.

The specific goal of the Equality Ride is "to initiate discussion about faith and sexuality in communities where it is most controversial". They're not there to protest in anger or merely to demonstrate. They're there to talk, to dialogue, to learn and to teach. For the schools that are courageous enough to have that discussion and welcome the Equality Riders to campus (my own alma mater, Wheaton College was one of them last year) the resulting dialogue has almost always been constructive for both sides.

However, some schools are not willing to even engage in conversation. Apparently they feel that even exposing their students to differing opinions might be too much for their fragile faith. One such school was Central Bible College in Springfield, MO, who had my friend Brandy and her fellow Equality Rider Abigail Reikow (both straight allies) arrested merely for setting foot on campus to talk to students about religious-based discrimination against homosexuals.

For more on their arrest click here.

I, for one, am proud of Brandy's act of civil disobedience. Brandy attended Via Christus this past fall while enrolled in the Clinical Psychology program at Wheaton's Graduate School, and when she left to go on the Equality Ride we sent her off with our love and prayers. At Via Christus we believe in demonstrating God's love to all people, no exceptions. Regardless of whether you believe homosexuality is a sin, there is still no excuse for treating homosexuals as lesser human beings, for instituting rules that force them to hide their identity and their struggles, or for acting as if they are any worse sinners than the rest of us. So we applaud Brandy for her efforts and hope that her sacrifices help to demonstrate Christ's love to at least a few homosexual students who maybe were on the verge of thinking that God hates them because of how they are.

Maybe Brandy will even be instrumental in saving lives. Few Christians realize that the suicide rate among homosexual young people raised in Christian homes is exceedingly high. Many of these young people realize that they would likely be rejected and reviled by their family, friends and church if they ever came out about their orientation. On top of this, many gay young people still believe, based on their religious upbringing, that homosexuality is wrong, and yet they know there is nothing they can do to change how they are. This produces intense feelings of shame and self-revulsion which leads many to believe that suicide is their only option. One of Soulforce's goals is to let such young adults know that there are alternatives, they are not alone, and that God does not hate them.

Anyhow, I wish Brandy the best. I'm sure this will be cleared up quickly. If you would like to support Brandy by contributing financially to her Ride, click on her picture to the right.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 2:07 PM | Permalink |


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