A response from the Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested

The following response is from the Reverend Nancy Hastings Sehested, Co-Pastor of Circle of Mercy in Asheville, NC.

August 9, 2014

Dear Dr. Duffett,

The times call for moral courage. We all have the responsibility to lend our voices to the on-going struggle toward justice and equality for all. We all benefit from our Baptist ancestors who bravely led our newly formed nation to include religious freedom rights in the First Amendment. The wall of separation of church and state is bedrock for our religious institutions. None of us desires the state to dictate unwarranted and unconstitutional intrusion into our institutional religious life.

Yet there are times in our history when the wall of separation has been the dividing wall of discrimination. A murky and complicated relationship exists between church and state since our religious institutions benefit from federal tax exemptions. Federal laws have worked to end discrimination against women and racial minorities. Civil laws have been critical to the creation of just laws. There are also times when leaders from our religious communities have stood valiantly against discriminatory practices and policies of the government.

Now is the time for our religious leaders to stand clearly and courageously against the possibility of discriminatory practices for LGBTQ people.

In hope,

Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested
Co-Pastor, Circle of Mercy Congregation (Alliance of Baptists and United Church of Christ)
Asheville, NC


A response from the Rev. Susan B.W. Johnson

The following response is from the Reverend Susan B.W. Johnson, Senior Minister at Hyde Park Union Church in Chicago, IL. 


8 August 2014

Dear Ms. Gravely and members of OneEastern:

As the pastor of a Welcoming and Affirming American Baptist church, I feel I must respond to the actions of my colleague, Dr. Robert Duffett, in his support of the right of religious educational institutions to discriminate against the LGBT community. To support discrimination against another human being is reprehensible, but to support the right of others to discriminate against them — based on the separation of church and state — is to make a pharisaical game out of our precious religious freedoms for the sake of the same outcome. To do this in the name of the gamely pursuit of federal education dollars which are reserved for institutions that do not discriminate against others is morally bankrupt.

Over a decade ago, Dr. Duffett and I taught together at another Baptist institution, one which has also taken stands against the LGBT community. At that time, I appreciated how Dr. Duffett, though more conservative in his personal views than I was in mine, acted in the larger body in ways much more generous, conciliatory, humble, and insightful than his recent actions suggest.

I am dismayed that in the name of Christ some American churches readily participate in efforts to discriminate against other human beings, making them miserable and causing them real harm. This while the American church makes little effort to deal with the most consequential issues of our day — poverty, violence, environmental stewardship and the welfare of children. I am dismayed that American Christianity is making itself irrelevant by ignoring the significance of profound advances of scientific, medical and social research in favor of un-refreshed human interpretations of a divine text.

But that’s only part of my point. We all toe a fine line when it comes to our freedom as Baptists, for we know that with those freedoms comes the reality that we will sometimes be found wrong — not only in the sight of others, but truly wrong in the sight of God. We learned this historically over slavery, but the application of this lesson has not gone very far. To claim that Eastern itself will not discriminate against the LGBT community, and yet to sign on to another institution’s efforts to do so, is to stand for nothing at all and to make a mockery of the social and theological issues which were once at stake in our Baptist history, and still are.

With heedless finesse, Dr. Duffett has supported a religious freedom to discriminate against other human beings and has put his (and Eastern’s) name to it. I dearly hope that he will rescind his support of this poorly disguised effort to twist a Baptist freedom in pursuit of the resources and accreditation accorded to those who do not act with prejudice against their own fellow citizens.

Rev. Susan B.W. Johnson
Senior Minister

Open Letter to Tony Campolo & Response

UPDATE 04/23/14: Below is an open email to Dr. Tony Campolo. We currently have 204 co-signors! Please stand with us! To add your name as a co-signor, please send an email to info@oneeastern.com 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”).

April 10, 2013

Dear Dr. Campolo,
The Eastern University community loves you. For decades, you have been a voice for the marginalized, the oppressed, and the ignored; and you have earned the deepest respect and appreciation of the Eastern University community. It is in that light that I write this letter asking for your clear and public support for all members of the Eastern University community regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, Eastern University is not a safe place for sexual minorities because the university refuses to guarantee that they will be free from discrimination.

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“Caution: This article may corrupt you. (And make you laugh)”

Michelle Katzman2We are very excited to welcome Guest Contributor, Michelle Katzman!

I want to take some time to thank my fellow writers who have posted articles on behalf of Refuge and OneEastern. Your words are encouraging and remind me that I was not alone in any of my experiences at Eastern. There were many times I was singled out on campus, but somehow I never felt alone. I always knew which friends, groups, and professors I could turn to.

Even though I graduated in 2010, I still return to Eastern from time to time. During one of my most recent visits, I attended Refuge. This was 3 years after graduating and I knew very few people on campus at this point. To my surprise, many of the group members greeted me by name and many had already heard of my story.

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“I’m Tired”

AdamWoodWe are very excited to welcome Guest Contributor, Adam Woods!

Editor’s Note: While we recognize and value views such as Adam’s within the Eastern community, we would like to note that our mission is first and foremost to be a sanctuary to all–sides or not.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of watching the news to see what prominent people will say about my value as a person. I’m tired of reading blog posts and articles about what Christians should do about the gays. I’m especially tired of how each post engenders the same played-out debate among its commenters.

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