It’s probably not much of a surprise, but Dr. Tony Campolo has faced a significant backlash since releasing his statement in support of LGBT inclusion. Much of that backlash consists of churches and other events canceling his speaking appearances.
Dr. Campolo is scheduled to speak at Ocean City Tabernacle of June 28 at 7PM in Ocean City, NJ. Ocean City Tabernacle has given assurances that they will not cancel the event. However, there is concern that there could be vocal opponents present at the event; it would be wonderful if those of us who support Dr. Campolo, and who are thankful for his recent statement could attend this event. It is free to attend, and is in beautiful Ocean City. It would make for a great night at the shore…
More information can be found at www.octabernacle.org.
OneEastern fully supports and applauds the Rev. Dr. Tony Campolo, and we thank God for today’s statement.
Today, the Rev. Dr. Tony Campolo released a statement calling for the full inclusion of sexual minorities in the Church.
“It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation, and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”
In regards to marriage, Campolo argues, “God intends married partners to help actualize in each other the ‘fruits of the spirit.'”
Further, Campolo compared the Church’s current stance on sexuality to other issues the Church has wrestled with stating:
“I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture. Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again, which is why I am speaking out.
Campolo’s full statement can be read here.
The following response is from the Reverend Dr. H. James Hopkins, Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, CA.
August 8, 2014
I must respectfully disagree with President Robert G. Duffet’s decision to support the letter written by some conservative religious leaders requesting President Obama to issue an executive order allowing their institutions to both receive federal funding and discriminate against LGBT persons. My disagreement is based in both theology, I do not believe that a faithful reading of Scripture mandates discrimination against LGBT persons, and my understanding of the contours of religious liberty.
Editor’s Note: In an effort to be a safe place for responses to Dr. Duffett, OneEastern has decided to accept anonymous and unsigned responses.
Dear Dr. Duffett,
I was previously pleased that you were leading our university during a time of change. Your words in both the Presidential Address and Inauguration speech seemed to encapsulate what Eastern University is (as I see it) ultimately about. You highlighted the minimalist and progressive nature of our doctrinal statement. You highlighted the fact that we speak not of infallibility or inerrancy, and you highlighted our focus on faith, reason, and justice. You seemed to say all the right things and I was hopeful.
The following response is written by Adam Woods. Adam is a 2004 graduate of Eastern University.
When I was at Eastern University, a lot of our classroom and dormroom ethical debates hinged on a point made by C.S. Lewis that “intention is everything.” The recurring example was that if you were standing on a train platform and someone accidentally stepped on your toe, then immediately apologized, no real harm was done. However, if you were standing on a train platform and someone walked up and crushed your toe in malice, maniacally laughing the whole time, then a great deal of harm was done. The offender’s intention dictated whether there was actually any offense.
My 19 year-old mind generally accepted this argument, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that C.S. Lewis wasn’t quite right. Intentional or unintentional, a stepped-on toe is a stepped-on toe.
The following response is written by Andrew Howe. Andrew travelled across the country from the San Francisco Bay Area to attend Eastern in 2003. He graduated with a B.A. in Sociology in 2007. After serving a year in New Orleans with Mission Year, Andrew returned home to complete his MA in International Development at Eastern in 2009.
What hurts me the most about hearing about your choice to sign this letter is how Eastern is now taking part in the polarization of Christianity around issues of gender equality. As Eastern now appears to be polarizing on this issue, there may not be a single safe space for people of different faith traditions within Christianity to be a part of one body of Christ, to safely and openly encounter Christ in their formative years, and go where Christ leads. In order for Eastern to make a safe place for authentic diversity in Christian faith, it needs to guarantee that no one is going to be thrown out of the community because of their gender identity, or their beliefs about gender identity.
The following letter is written by Frances Parker Greenlee. Frances transferred to Eastern after her freshman year and has spent the last two years studying sociology, working in Philadelphia, and wrestling with questions about the intersection of Jesus and Justice. In the coming academic year she plans to take a gap year to dialogue and live in community with people who have experienced life differently than herself. She hopes to take those stories and experiences back to the classroom and Eastern community for her senior year. She hopes Dr. Duffett can do the same.
A letter to Dr. Duffett:
Why didn’t you ask me?
Why didn’t you shoot me a text, send out a Facebook message, write my family and I a letter, host an open event, anything, ANYTHING to ask the larger Eastern Community their thoughts, opinions, anxieties, joys, concerns about your decision to sign a letter that will be forever associated with Eastern University, a place I want to be proud to call my Alma Mater. I have come to love and own my voice, heart, and mind that has been delicately crafted by God, people, and Eastern. Why didn’t you care to hear what I had to say?
I’m sorry you’re so busy. I have had the utmost privilege to spend some time with you and your wife this past year. I enjoyed the RA welcome/get to know us party you graciously hosted at your house in the fall, I learned a lot from interviewing you at the end of the fall 2013 semester for a term paper, I was chosen (I cannot thank you and student development enough) to represent Eastern University this past year at Student Lobby Day and traveled with you to the state capitol, and I appreciated seeing you around campus occasionally, especially when the power went out. You’re doing a good job at being a university president. However, I am not sure that you are doing an equally good of a job seeing people for how valuable they are. Rather, I am wondering if you see people through a lens of how much they’re worth (monetarily that is). For the amount of time I have spent with you and talked with you, I am not sure you have ever looked me in the eyes and asked me anything you actually cared to listen to.
The following letter is written by Rev. Dr. Brian Henderson. Brian is a pastor living in Denver, Colorado.
Dear Dr. Duffett:
I am an alumnus of Eastern College ’96, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary ’99, and Palmer Theological Seminary ’09, and through my educational and theological journey, it was my experience through Eastern that after decades of suppression, I found the courage and conviction to be true to my reality…that being a man who is gay. I’ve worked through and continue to work through so much to be true to who I am.
It is beyond insult that you and Ron Sider would sign the letter addressed to President Obama requesting the right to discriminate against people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, or otherwise. If this is the direction you are leading Eastern University and its schools, you are standing on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the Gospel, and further, you have no place being president of the institution that has sought to present the whole gospel, to the whole world, through whole persons.
Please, stand on the right side of history. Do not malign so many of Eastern’s students and alums who are out and still closeted solely because we are the humans we are.
Brian Henderson, DMin, MDiv
The following letter is written by Tom Apostolacus. Tom is from Downingtown, PA and is a junior at Eastern University double majoring in Theology and Philosophy with a minor in Gender Studies.
Hey Dr. Duffett,
I’m going to be quite frank with you. I am livid. I am scared. I do not feel safe. My name is Tom Apostolacus. I’m a 3rd year student at Eastern, studying theology, philosophy, and gender studies. I also identify as genderqueer.
Your recent request to opt out of federal anti-discrimination laws is audacious, albeit utterly unsurprising. You have outed yourself as uncaring and egregiously ignorant. I was hoping the administration had hired a president who had the well-being and safety of Eastern’s students and faculty in mind, but instead justified my cynicism and skepticism towards everyone around me, including towards you. You have chosen to side with an oppressive majority and ignored how these actions contribute to harboring a hostile and terrifying environment for queer people, such as myself, on campus and in society at large. Continue reading
Today, we’re announcing a new section for the OneEastern website. Dr. Duffett’s signature on a letter asking for an exemption to a ban on discrimination, as well as his subsequent reasoning for why he signed the letter- both have caused a number of passionate responses to be written and shared through email and social media. We believe these voices are important, and as a result, have created a new section of the website for “Responses to Dr. Duffett“. The concept is simple, we hope to bring together as many responses as possible to a single place so that it is easy to see how deeply Eastern University’s policies affect its community, and so that we each recognize that we are not alone.
Posts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to include a photo, and brief bio for the post, that would be welcome. We will continually update the post page, and plan to regularly feature responses on the front page of website.
And the petition asking Dr. Duffett to rescind his request for the ability to discriminate against LGBT individuals at Eastern University is still active at http://bit.ly/1tfHwc8.