A few weeks ago, we posted “An Open Letter to Dr. Tony Campolo” asking him to stand with us and to support an anti-discrimination policy at Eastern University for sexual minorities. Below is Dr. Campolo’s reply. Please stand with us! Our original letter currently has 187 co-signors! To add your name as a co-signor, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and relationship to Eastern University (i.e. “Joe Smith, Class of 2013” or “Jane Smith, Parent of 2013 Graduate” or “Jamie Smith, Professor of History”). Also feel free to leave comments below!
April 26, 2013
I am responding to the open letter addressed to me from OneEastern, a group of Eastern University alumni, regarding the hopes and fears of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people who attend Eastern University, or will be attending the university in the future.
Any form of discrimination based on race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation is unacceptable to me, especially at Eastern, the school I have loved, and with which I have been proud to be associated since my own days as a student here more than 50 years ago. I want Eastern to be a place where a student, staff member, or faculty member can be open about his or her sexual identity without fear of recrimination. Prejudices will always exist, but discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should not be allowed among Christians, and certainly not on the campus of any Christian college or university.
I fully understand that Eastern has those in its community who may not be in sympathy with such an anti-discrimination policy. I also am painfully aware that such a public declaration on the part of the administration might seriously impact the fundraising capacity of the Development Office and also the work of the Admissions Office. Nevertheless, I believe a commitment to Christ-like justice requires careful consideration as to what the official policies of our school should be.
I would expect GLBT students, staff members, and faculty members to abide by the standards which Eastern has already set and expects to be observed within the confines of the university campus. Being within the Evangelical tradition, our school holds to a policy of opposing certain forms of erotic behavior outside of the confines of marriage as defined by the student handbook.
As you know from my writing and speaking, gay marriage does not fit within my personal understanding of Scripture and Church tradition. However, I do not consider gay marriage to be a defining issue that should bar those in such relationships from being fully accepted members of any Christian body; any more than I would bar persons who are divorced and remarried from such acceptance.
I want to emphasize that these are my views and do not represent the stated policies of Eastern University, and it should also be noted that I am no longer a regularly active member of the University teaching staff.
My prayers are with those in the OneEastern movement, and with all the students, staff and faculty members, and others who love Eastern, who are struggling over this important matter.
Thanks for doing this Dr. Campolo. The fundamentals of social justice were taught to me at Eastern–I’m hopeful that your example will lead the university to take this next important step.
Love and Prayers, Amy.
Tony — As someone who has been associated with Eastern for almost as long as you and in a variety of ways (alum, faculty, administration), I celebrate your attempt to make the University a more safe, just, and loving community and pledge my support in whatever way may be warranted.
Dear Tony, I’ve been proud to be your friend and colleague for more than four decades, and am now prouder than ever that you’re taking a vocal stand in bringing Eastern into the 21st century and extending its message of love and justice to ALL Eastern students, faculty, and staff. ~Caroline
I have long hoped that Eastern would, once again, be at the forefront of affecting positive change within the Christian college community, particularly with respect to the inclusion of those students, faculty, and staff from the GLBT community. Your letter is thoughtful and, in my opinion, filled with the passion that I’ve come to expect from your essays to the Church, in general, and individual Christians, in particular. I am hopeful that this passion will carry your message of social justice and equanimity not only to the Administrations at Eastern and other Christian colleges, but also to the entire Church. Thank you for your words.
Richard P. Almquist, Jr. ’89
Tony, Thanks for this thoughtful call to practice faith, reason and justice at Eastern.
As a 1965 graduate of Eastern, my intellectual life was grounded by an education that supported open, respectful dialogue on all the hard issues of the day–and your’s is one of the voices I remember from that time. I am glad you are still calling for the practice of this kind of educational experience for all of Eastern’s family.
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Tony, As you know I’ve been a part of Eastern since before I was born. My parents met at the college and taught at the Seminary and now I have been on the faculty for almost 20 years. I know this took much thought and prayer on your part, and I just wanted you to know how much it means for you to speak out on the side of nondiscrimination for all. The movement toward making EU a safe place for LGBT folks and their allies is long and slow — but as Dr. King says, that arc bends toward justice.
Thank you for this. — Landi
Are we allowed to call the bluff yet? After decades of doing talking about homosexuality with Peggy, Dr. Tony Campolo really still thinks that Romans (and only Romans) condemns gay relationships?
Their dialogue plays more like a setup: Tony does all the heavy lifting, taking out sociology, psychology, and most Biblical arguments, leaving only Romans 1 … and then he turns it over to Peggy to knock that last one down for him.
I don’t believe Tony actually views gay relationships as sinful. This response–with its consideration of funding impact of public declarations–might just as well be written about himself, in addition to Eastern.
Thanks for illuminating this issue for the community.
We’re with you.