I got a press release reminding me not long ago that Soulforce, the gay rights group that does in-your-face confrontations on Christian college campuses, is making the rounds again this spring. The Equality Rides, as they are called, target colleges that Soulforce feels are discriminatory towards gays. The two or three dozen Riders are gay and straight students, some of them from the very colleges targeted.
Soulforce got lots of coverage, such as this Christianity Today piece, when it first started these unsolicited visits in 2006. Colleges have reacted in varying ways, from forbidding Soulforce to step foot on their campuses to inviting them to speak at forums and welcoming them in individual homes. The visits have also shown an increasing rift on homosexuality between young and older evangelicals, as pointed out here.
Today, Soulforce is at Bellhaven University in Jackson, Miss. After Easter, the bus will show up at several Texas campuses, including Baylor University. A schedule is here.
Certainly there is some debate among evangelicals over this topic, with ex-gays weighing in on one side saying that change is possible and others saying that homosexuals don’t choose their orientation.
As for the college visits, a lot of these campuses have been more hospitable than other groups would have. What if Jews for Jesus had done forced visits to America’s majority Jewish campuses? What if tea party activists had shown up several thousand strong at UC-Berkley and had a sit-in? Would the folks at, say, Brandeis, Yeshiva University or any state school in California given these folks a chance to speak, much less welcome them into their homes?
I don’t think so.
- Julia Duin, religion editor