“Christianity and LGBTQ Sexualities: Weaving a Narrative of Reconciling”

JenKaneWe are very excited to welcome Guest Contributor, Jen Kane! Jen is a 2011 graduate of Eastern University.

This post is a story. In a way, it is my story. And in a way, it is bigger than my story.

I was raised in the suburbs and went to public schools. I spent summers at the beach. I watched romantic comedies with my friends at sleepovers. I went on dates with boys. And like many other childhoods, mine included going to church. During my adolescent years, that meant that I came to understand homosexuality as a sin. That was the teaching of my faith tradition. But that is just the beginning of the story. This, like many other stories of life, is a journey.

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A Reply From Dr. Tony Campolo

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 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”). 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.

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We need your help!

We have been in dialogue with Dr. Tony Campolo regarding our open letter seeking his support for a more inclusive anti-discrimination policy at Eastern University. Dr. Campolo is planning to respond to the letter and has asked for first-person accounts of discrimination based on sexual orientation or perceived gender identity occurring at Eastern University. The accounts have to be first-person, we do ask for the accounts to identify any staff or faculty that took part in discrimination, or harassment (in any year, in class or out of class), but you will remain anonymous (if you would like your name to be attached to your story, please let us know). Please help us gather the stories by sharing this request with your friends and classmates.  All stories can be sent info@oneeastern.com.  Please note: the purpose is not to convince Dr. Campolo that there is discrimination, rather, it is to support his forthcoming response and our call for a more inclusive anti-discrimination policy.

An Open Letter to Dr. Tony Campolo

Below is an open email to Dr. Tony Campolo.  We currently have 187 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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An Open Letter to Eastern University and the Justice Conference

An open letter to Eastern University and the Justice Conference
By: Sabrina L. Valente, MA

In February, the Justice Conference will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Eastern University, my alma mater, is the local host for the conference. According to the Conference’s website “the vision of the conference is to reach tens of thousands of people over the next decade through an annual gathering that educates, inspires and connects a generation to a shared concern for the vulnerable and oppressed. This is motivated by the driving value of the conference, what Ken calls a theology of justice, that an understanding of God should compel love for others and engagement in justice.” The conference features speakers on a wide variety of topics from child trafficking to HIV/AIDS to poverty, always seeking to do right by those who are oppressed.

There’s just one problem. The Justice Conference completely ignores the very real need for justice with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
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A Response to Dr. Sider…

Editor’s note: Dr. Ronald Sider is a professor at Palmer Theological Seminary, the seminary of Eastern University. Dr. Sider is also the Founder and President of “Evangelicals for Social Action”. Over the course of its history, ESA has made troubling statements and has affirmed troubling positions in regards to sexual minorities (see “The Manhattan Declaration”). ESA publishes a bi-monthly magazine, “Prism”. The current November/December is almost entirely focused on sexuality with many disturbing articles, including an article written by Dr. Sider (Dr. Sider’s article- here; the full issue- here). It is disappointing that these attitudes emerge out of Eastern University.

However we know there are other voices that speak for justice within Eastern, and one of those voices is Dr. Yolanda Turner, co-chair of the Psychology department at Eastern University. Please welcome Dr. Turner as she shares with us her response to Dr. Sider’s article, adapted from a presentation she gave earlier this year. OneEastern is deeply thankful for Dr. Turner’s response. A brief bio for Dr. Turner is found at the end of this post.

Separation of Church and State:

Let me begin by stating that for me this is not simply a question of being for or against same-sex marriage. The question is larger than that: by what criteria do we want our government to make legal decisions?

This is not simply about whether homosexual relationships are biblical or holy. It is about what should be affirmed in a pluralistic society – in a democratic republic that promotes religious freedom, as well as other types of freedom and privacy.

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Our first “It Needs to Get Better” video submission!

We are thrilled to pass along the first “It Needs to Get Better” video submission.  It comes from Amy Yoder McGloughlin— the pastor of Germantown Mennonite Church, and a 1994 graduate of Eastern University.  Also featured in the video is a possible future EU grad— Amy’s daughter, Reba.  It is an excellent video, and a great start to this campaign.  Thanks, Amy & Reba!  Click below to watch the video…

Periodically, we will be emailing the administration of Eastern University the links to newly posted videos.  Within the next week or so, there will also be a video page on this website where all submitted videos will be linked.  This is a great start and we anxiously await more submissions!  Please email videos, links, or contact info to videos@oneastern.com.  We can’t wait to share yours!

Announcing the OneEastern “It Needs to Get Better” Campaign!

We are proud to announce our first campaign, “It Needs to Get Better”.  And we need your help!  We are now collecting videos of you explaining to Eastern University why “It Needs to Get Better” and why EU needs to be a fully inclusive, welcoming, and affirming university.  We are asking you to record yourself speaking directly to the camera to explain why it must get better.  You do not need to be a professional videographer, a webcam, works great (and so will most still cameras in video mode!).  Please make sure the camera is mounted and doesn’t move.  Feel free to share personal stories.  And this campaign is open to anyone: alumni, students, parents- anyone at all!  To see an example of the videos we’re hoping to receive, check out what Notre Dame’s community recently did here.

Once you have made your video, please email videos@oneeastern.com.  We’ll find a way for you to send us the video either electronically or by snail mail.  We hope to post a compilation video representing many people within our community who know that it needs to get better.  So start recording, and let’s help Eastern understand.

Peace and love

We could really still use help covering the hosting costs of the website.  If you’re able to contribute any amount, please click this link.  Thank you!

You can help!

Happy September!

Many people have asked for tangible ways that they could support OneEastern… and there is a way.  Right now, the only real financial cost for OneEastern is webhosting.  Fortunately, our host makes it easy to donate to support the cost of running the site.  On the right hand side of our website, there is now a link to donate to help defray costs.  Any donations are appreciated!  You can also click here…

ALSO, in the next week or so, we will be announcing our first campaign… stay tuned!