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Soulforce Trip Continues as Arrests Made at Bob Jones University


Members of the gay rights group Soulforce are just about midway through their 2007 Equality Ride, visiting 32 colleges and universities across the nation that discriminate against gays and lesbians. These photos come from a recent stop at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina where they were met by a few counter-protesters.

There have been numerous arrests along their journey thus, far. At this stop, three young women, ages 22-24 were arrested when they tried to walk on campus to deliver artwork and a message calling for changes to the school's disciminatory policies.

According to Soulforce, Stephen Jones, the president of this private Christian college, send letters to individual Soulforce riders telling them that "the institution believes the Bible is clear about God's view of homosexual practice [and that there is] no room for dialogue."

Said Katie Higgins, one of the arrestees: "As I was being arrested I could see hundreds of students looking over at us from the chapel, interested in what was happening. It is unfortunate that BJU administration was so quick to restrict the academic freedom on their campus that should be an integral part of the college experience."

Bobjones2 Soulforce3

More on the Equality Ride here.

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  1. Are these riders accomplishing anything other than getting arrested? The aren't getting any media coverage that I have seen. Only this blog has been covering them. I just hate that these young people are getting arrested for no purpose. Also, if a college is private and receives no federal funding, they should be able to pick and choose who they have in there. If they receive any kind of tax funding then I think GLBT people should be allowed.

    Posted by: Matt | Apr 6, 2007 10:09:32 AM

  2. Good for these kids. I'm admittedly only an armchair activist and have only gone to a few rallies or events to effect change. This news inspires me to do more.

    Posted by: nyc2 | Apr 6, 2007 10:32:45 AM

  3. The closet case holding the "abomination" sign needs to take his filthy hand out of his pocket.

    Give it up for God!

    Posted by: Rey | Apr 6, 2007 11:05:06 AM

  4. I grew up in a small town in South Carolina and Bob Jones Univ. was considered a strange, scary place, even among the conservative Christian, mostly Baptist, kids. Kids told scary stories about it, like students being kept in by high walls with broken glass and barbed wire. Of course, that wasn't true, but as a child I was afraid to even drive by.

    Bob Jones Univ. didn't allow interracial dating until recently. It still doesn't allow touching between opposite sex students. It doesn't allow students to wear Abercrombie and Fitch clothes because A&F is in league with the Devil. Seriously.

    I only knew 2 people who went there and they were very strange folks, and one was obviously mentally unbalanced. This school makes places like Baylor or Furman seem like Berkeley in the 60s. The kids it attracts are not even remotely within normal range. They are fully indoctrinated idealogues who are completely out of touch with reality. My childhood fear of Bob Jones Univ. was justified, I just didn't know how much.

    Posted by: sam | Apr 6, 2007 11:24:22 AM

  5. Well, A&F is, actually, in league with the devil, but that's another story.

    Guys who hold signs like the one the guy in the picture is holding:
    a. have way too much time on their hands
    b. really need to work through a lot of personal issues
    c. look like total pickle smokers to me.

    Posted by: gwyneth cornrow | Apr 6, 2007 11:27:24 AM

  6. Matt,

    Local media typically cover the Equality Rider events.

    I agree with you regarding the rights of institutions that are not accepting federal dollars, but the Soulforce efforts are more for the GLBT students closeted inside.

    Most of the Soulfource riders were raised in conservative faith settings including evangelical Christianity and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons). Some of the schools invite the riders on campus for dialogue. Others, as was the case with Bob Jones and Brigham Young do not. When not allowed on campus, Soulforce always plans and advertises events so GLBT students on campus and their supporters can participate. If you go to the Soulforce website, you will find a recent video of a BYU student risking expulsion as she comes out at one of these events.

    As a formerly closeted evangelical boy, I don't give a flying frack about who covers or who does not cover the story (By the way, thanks for the coverage, Andy!). I do care very much that my closeted brothers and sisters trapped behind relgious walls know that they are not alone.

    There are Souldforce riders still in need of support; you can pick a writer and make a pledge at their website.

    Posted by: KJ | Apr 6, 2007 11:29:06 AM

  7. Discrimination: Tuesday a 16yrs old boy from Turin committed suicide after he was hit by insults and isolation for several month in a town's high school. The boy - sensible and engage in study, born from a philippine mother - often told of his pain to school personnell without any serious action was taken against his bullying kids.

    Posted by: Giuseppe | Apr 6, 2007 11:58:22 AM

  8. Ditto to KJ--While Soulforce might be interested in affecting public policy in the long run, their immediate goal is the changing of hearts that can only come from dialogue. I think we (by that I mean GLBTers and progressives generally) are too quick to dismiss religious arguments often because of miserable experiences growing up. Our oppression is nearly always couched in religious terms, and we're fooling ourselves if we think that we can get anywhere without addressing the sick religion at the heart of the problem.

    Posted by: Acolyte | Apr 6, 2007 12:10:28 PM

  9. Just because private institutions have the right to discriminate doesn't mean they shouldn't be criticized for doing so.

    Posted by: Boobs | Apr 6, 2007 12:15:28 PM

  10. I don't think federal funding would affect things one way or another. We don't have federal laws covering discrimination based on sexual orientation, only state laws, and that not everywhere.

    Checking the HRC site (at least they're good for that, Leland!):
    South Carolina Non-Discrimination Law
    South Carolina law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

    So even if they WERE receiving federal and state money, they could still discriminate legally.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Apr 6, 2007 1:05:11 PM

  11. The guy holding that homophobic sign really looks like Neil Patrick Harris with a few pounds added on.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Apr 6, 2007 1:54:54 PM

  12. The guy with the abomination sign is cute. Too bad he's an uptight fundie. What a waste.

    As for Soul Force, these people are not getting arrested for no reason. Institutions and churches like BJU are the among the reasons why discrimination against the GLBT community still exist. Many of the politicians pander to these people, so getting messages out to BJU and other fundie strongholds is not a waste of time.

    Posted by: shindo | Apr 6, 2007 2:14:08 PM

  13. Yes, KevinVT, HRC does put out some good reports [their dishonest corporate buying guide not included] but it doesn't justify their $35 million budget or over a hundred paid staffers. Other groups, such as the older NGLTF put out similar reports.

    The larger point relative to HRC and Soulforce is that HRC should be supporting them both financially and organizationally, generating PR for them, since members of the HRC Royal Family NEVER do street activism, nor "preach" face-to-face to anyone other than the choir.

    That being said, as much as I admire these young Soulforcers, I think their time and money would be better spent—more bang for the buck, as it were—if they focused only on the larger, high profile breeding farms for religiously motivated homohatred. Bob Jones, maybe. BYU certainly. The military academies and recruiting stations which they've admirably done before. And a demonstration at what might be considered Ground Zero for the constant churning out of antigay propaganda, the huge [they have their own Zip Code] Focus on the Family HQ in Colorado is becoming an annual event.

    But the majority of their caravan stops this year are at places that no one outside of the students and locals have heard of, and, IMHO, that is neither financially nor strategically wise. I believe one can raise the consciousness of people generally faster than one can change these institutions. The gay Catholic group Dignity has been trying to get the Church to accept them for 38 years with no success. Rather than trying to turn those with water on the brain into wine, the focus should be on winning allies to restrain them from hurting us in the civil arena, in legislatures, the voting booth, public schools. The wisdom of Black gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin keeps coming back to me: "Our aim [in the Black civil rights movement] was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly mainifest that hate. That's our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment."

    Posted by: Leland | Apr 6, 2007 2:34:19 PM

  14. Matt you do know that Bob jones University disallows inter-racial dating as well? Inter-racial couples get expelled.

    BobJones university is a haven for all manner of crazyness, just because they do not get fed funding does not mean they should be simply allowed to poison young minds. Especialy since every single last republican presidential candidate makes sure to make a very PUBLIC apperance and speach at bob jones university during a presidential election season.

    Posted by: pacificoceanboy | Apr 6, 2007 2:59:32 PM

  15. Soulforce is a great organization. Just by showing up on these campuses they are giving closeted students an opportunity to see that they are not alone. That can change their entire outlook. Help with their self-esteem.

    You guys are incredible. You are always accussing people that work against us as being gay. Can you possibly imagine that those that are working against us are straight? Most are.

    Posted by: Jack! | Apr 6, 2007 5:43:09 PM

  16. Well put as always Leland.

    "Matt you do know that Bob jones University disallows inter-racial dating as well? Inter-racial couples get expelled."

    That use to be true but was changed after all the bad press Bush 2 got from speaking there when he first ran for president.

    It's ironic, my favorite flavor, that my Irish Ex-Catholic born again Evangilist Minister brother and his Guatemalan Ex-Catholic wife have four kids who went or are going to Bob Jones U.

    When his kids are around their 14 cousins, I did say we are Irish Catholic, they are like they are from another world. They are getting a bit more out going as they get older and who knows what goes on behind closed doors.

    I agree that Soulforce is doing great work, who knows how many kids in those schools are being thrown a line, gay or straight, if they save one kid from that life of hate, or open their minds and heart a bit it is well worth it.

    To those who celebrate, Happy Holiday, to those who don't catch South Park's story this week on why we color Easter eggs.

    Go St. Peter Rabbit.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Apr 6, 2007 6:19:34 PM

  17. Ugh, that picture of the creep with the sign made me want to curse %#$.

    What I don't understand is why it's the 3 girls from Soulforce who were handcuffed and arrested?

    And they also arrested 20+ at the ACT UP protest when 500 marched for Universal Heathcare.

    Yet 20,000 Christian teens from Battlecry (yes that many) were protesting in San Francisco a couple of months ago, and there were no reported arrests. Or maybe I missed it?

    I feel we have to be more vocal about the alarming biais of the police forces, which are supposed to protect the entire population, and not serve the interests of any political force. If they cannot be impartial, then we have a big problem. And the media should start asking this question outloud: "what is going on?"

    Posted by: Da | Apr 7, 2007 2:27:43 AM

  18. It's really time to outlaw religion in the U.S.

    Posted by: Bob | Apr 7, 2007 9:09:25 AM

  19. snicker, snicker... "hey, where do u go to school?" "i go to Bob Jones University or BJU for short!" snicker, snicker... BJU, indeed. i can think of some great t-shirts that Soulforce coulda been sportin' on that campus...

    Posted by: sean | Apr 7, 2007 4:05:42 PM

  20. Has anyone ever held up a sign that says "God hates shellfish" or "Mixed clothing is an abomination. Repent!"?

    Someone should.

    Posted by: mark m | Apr 9, 2007 10:10:33 AM

  21. Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about the BoJos:

    Nobojo - A look inside Bob Jones Univ. by a former student


    Posted by: Sean | Apr 20, 2007 2:50:29 PM

  22. Bob Jones University was granted the right to accept federal financial aide beginning in the fall semester of 2007.


    The same year the state of SC gave BJU over a 2 Million dollar grant.

    Interestingly, BJU has long preached against the lottery and opposed it before the lottery was passed. SC State Lottery monies benefit college education. Bob Jones does not have a problem accepting lottery money to fund their school.

    Posted by: Kitty | Feb 22, 2011 8:41:23 PM

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