Tuesday, April 10, 2007
- by Dr. Niel Nielson
To the residents and friends of Chattanooga:
On April 2 the activist organization Soulforce brought its Equality Ride to the outskirts of Covenant College’s campus. The Equality Ride’s stated mission is to challenge Covenant’s biblical view of sexuality and policies on sexual behavior, which they view as oppressive and discriminatory. They denounce our beliefs as unbiblical and instead teach that the Bible condones homosexual behavior.
Although the Riders claimed dialogue as their goal, they previously rejected our offer of structured opportunities for dialogue with students, faculty, and administrators, as well as our invitation to attend our chapel service. Instead, the Equality Riders chose to make an unauthorized visit to Covenant.
The occasion was uneventful for the most part. The Riders remained on the outskirts of campus, as students came and went, engaging them in peaceful dialogue – interestingly, the same dialogue that could have occurred under more comfortable and structured conditions in a designated room had the Riders accepted the terms of our letter of agreement. Nevertheless, students greeted them with compassion, engaged them with the truths of the gospel, and delivered to them the boxed lunches and bottled water the College had purchased.
A disappointing, though not surprising, aspect of the event came after several hours of peaceful dialogue between the Equality Riders and the students who chose to go talk to them. The Riders made a statement mandating that Covenant change its beliefs and policies, and then four Riders made the deliberate decision to trespass on Covenant’s property, resulting in their arrests. It is ironic that, after benefiting from several hours of dialogue and also eating lunch with students and faculty, the Riders would then choose to interrupt that dialogue in order to resort to their oft-used publicity stunt of criminal trespass.
Even supporters of the pro-homosexual agenda recognize the inappropriateness of the Equality Riders’ tactics and behavior. One blog posting, exclaiming “C’mon, guys, you’re making us look bad,” further states, “Soulforce had the opportunity to make their case to student leaders, faculty, and administrative staff, and passed on the chance to establish a basis for further relations to instead make a public display that basically amounted to ‘We’ll have it our way or no way at all.’”
I am grateful to Dade County law enforcement officials for their professionalism and support, to the Lookout Mountain, Ga., community and mayor Tom Gifford for their understanding and cooperation, and to the Times Free Press and local television stations for their fair and accurate coverage. I am proud of our fine students for conducting themselves in a mature and Christ-honoring manner throughout the day.
We have made available to the public materials related to the history of our planning and communications, as well as links to resources related to these issues. You may see these at www.covenant.edu/news/soulforce.
Covenant remains as firmly committed as ever to our biblical commitments and our institutional mission and values, even as we wholeheartedly acknowledge that others have the freedom and right to disagree with us. We take seriously our responsibility to provide our students with a first-rate education that emphasizes the preeminence of Christ in all things and that boldly and responsibly addresses the full range of academic and cultural issues. We care for students who struggle with any number of spiritual and moral issues. And we encourage and help students who sense the call to ministry to identify pathways through which they may live out these callings.
Above all, we at Covenant seek to honor Jesus Christ and uphold the gospel truth as we carry out our mission as a college. I thank our many supporters for their prayers and partnership in this distinctive mission of biblically faithful Christian higher education. I thank Chattanooga for 43 years of mutual support and benefit since the College came to Lookout Mountain. And I thank God for his faithfulness.
Niel Nielson, Ph.D.
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Bible believing Christians should commend Dr. Neil Neilson and Covenant College for standing up to the intimidation that the homosexual activist group "Soulforce" brought to their campus recently.
Apparently this group believes that public opinion determines what sin is and that that Bible believing Christians should just simply change their beliefs to make them more acceptable to homosexuals.
But the Bible's teaching on this subject is very clear. Homosexuality is a sin, and it is condemned throughout the Bible as such. No amount of public opinion is going to change that regardless of how many people believe that it is suddenly acceptable.
As Christians we are obligated to live according to the teachings of the Bible, not the latest opinion polls. We do not have the luxury of determining within ourselves what sin should or should not be. The Bible is our standard and we must follow it. We cannot allow public opinion to determine our own moral beliefs. There must be an objective standard of right and wrong.
Dr. Neilson and Covenant College are to be applauded for withstanding the coercion and demands of "Soulforce" and holding fast to clear Biblical teachings.
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If I picket in front of Covenant College on behalf of the agnostic, can I score a free box lunch too?
Dave M. Kelley