Evangelical Colleges and Their Gay Students

In my neck-o-the-woods, Bethel University‘s provost recently held an open conversation with gay students and allies, where they were able to talk openly about their experiences at a college that officially discriminates against them.

At one of my alma maters, Fuller Theological Seminary, a campus-wide conversation about sexuality was recently held. Heteronormativity was ultimately upheld at each of these institutions, but here’s what I think: As soon as you give LGBT persons a voice, they are humanized. And when that happens, it’s only a matter of time before discriminatory policies begin to collapse.

At HuffPo, Ron Davis writes about a similar debate being held at his alma mater, George Fox University:

Like many evangelical colleges, the school requires students and staff to sign a lifestyle agreement which, among other things, requires them to refrain from nonmarital sexual activity and proscribes homosexual relationships. A group of LGBTQ and allied alumni called OneGeorgeFox presented the administration with an open letter. The letter challenges the University’s policy, and disputes LGBTQ stereotypes, invoking gay student’s desire to have families and demanding their Christian community’s support.

The University responded to the letter with characteristic civility, affirming everyone’s dignity, and acknowledging the need for improved communication, but ultimately reiterating its heteronormative theological position. Less characteristically, the administration has told its faculty that, although they can facilitate discussions among students, signing the letter or otherwise publicly advocating for a position at odds with the University’s policy violates their employment contracts.

Consequently, a passionate, ideologically diverse faculty’s signatures are notably absent. This is egregious. Universities exist, in large part, to encourage truth-seeking, and the faculty form the backbone of this pursuit. That a Quaker university could display such gross epistemic hubris strongly suggests the administration has lost sight of these guiding principles. (Read the rest: Ron Davis: Evangelical Universities, Gay Students and Faculty Freedom.)

I am an adjunct professor at Fuller, and I can say that, to Fuller’s credit (most notably, Kurt Frederickson‘s and Rich Mouw‘s credit), they have never attempted to silence me. They have simply asked that while I’m teaching a Fuller class, I respect their Statement of Community Standards. That seems completely reasonable, and I happy to comply with that request.

Is the Emergent Church Dead?

Brian McLaren thinks not:

If we use Phyllis Tickle’s term “Christian Emergence” or “Emergence Christianity” to describe a broad phenomenon that is occurring across the spectrum of Christian communities (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant …), I think the movement is stronger than ever.

In Evangelical and Charismatic circles, many Evangelical/Charismatic gatekeepers have successfully driven the emergent conversation underground. They don’t talk much about emergent figures – except negatively. And people who “come out of the theological closet” are pressured and often nudged out. But there are so many people like you – who are rethinking and going through a deep awakening spiritually, and are just circumspect about it in their ecclesial circles. And surprising numbers of Evangelical/Charismatic leaders are far more sympathetic than you would expect.

In Mainline circles, there is broadening and deepening engagement at all levels.

In Catholic circles, there are growing pockets of engagement on a grass-roots level, and there are small pockets in Orthodox circles too.

Read the rest: Q & R: Is the Emerging Church mo – Brian McLaren.

Custody Laws: Our Government in (In)Action

My testimony in front of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee of the Minnesota Senate (photo by Courtney Perry/All Rights Reserved)

Last month, I testified in front of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee of the Minnesota Senate. I spoke in favor of Bill 1402, which aims to bring presumed equality to shared parenting time in divorced families. Currently, the presumption in Minnesota — that is, the guidelines that are recommended for family court judges to follow — is that one parent gets the majority (75%) of parenting time, and the other parent gets the rest. As you might guess, the 75% almost always goes to the mother. (I won’t comment on my own custody arrangement; negotiations are ongoing.)

This bill has been bouncing around the Capitol for over a decade. One intrepid woman, Molly Olson, has kept the bill alive. She — and I — believe that it is in the best interests of children that the default presumption should be 50-50. The bill makes all sorts of exceptions, for unfit parents and other extenuating circumstances.

By the time I testified, the bill had basically been gutted. The percentage was dropped from 50% to 35%. Nevertheless, I testified that the Court system has habituated a outdated notion that mothers are always better to be the primary parent than fathers. I argued that when the judicial branch of our government is too habituated in certain patterns, the legislative branch needs to step in and set things right.

I acknowledged that it’s odd for a white man to be claiming discrimination. Even so, that’s what this is.

But here’s the funny thing: Democrats are unanimously against this bill, and Republicans are for it. You know who else is against it?

[Read more...]

It’s My 5-Year Twitter Birthday

What are you giving me? A follow, maybe?

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, please do.

If I don’t follow you, tweet at me why I should.


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