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National speakers gather for LGBT demonstration

Biolan's Equal Ground confronts admin’s responses to the Nashville Statement and reparative therapy with campus demonstration.  |  Kyle Kohner/THE CHIMES

 

ARTICLE UPDATED ON DEC. 6, 2017 AT 6:00 P.M.

Requesting a formal apology for a homosexuality seminar allegedly supporting sexual orientation change efforts and a denouncement of article seven of the Nashville Statement, Biolan’s Equal Ground organized a demonstration today outside the Biola Avenue entrance.

A call for change

The requests come from a letter sent to administration by the Tyler Clementi Foundation on Nov. 28, which included asking administration for a response by Dec. 1. BEG, alongside the Tyler Clementi Foundation, invited clergy members, scholars, theologians and previous Biola students to share their perspectives on the possible damages that can come from theology, according to executive director of BEG and faith programs coordinator for the Tyler Clementi foundation Erin Green.

The demonstration also sought to support and care for LGBT students on campus.

“This rally was not for Biola, this was for the students on this community, the LGBTQ students who are currently here and suffering... to let them know that we support them and that we are here as a safety net for them... if they are afraid to approach administration or any faculty or anything like that within the school,” Green said.

After gathering for a small prayer meeting on Metzger Lawn, organizers and participants moved outside the gate to the sidewalk. Several speakers discussed their viewpoints, including former Biola student Sammy Schwimmer, who shared a spoken word poem, and founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation Jane Clementi, who focused on the role of Christian institutions in social issues.

“I believe that students should be upstanders and speak out when students are being harmed and I believe that this administration is harming not only the gay students but all students by teaching that reparative therapy is OK,” Clementi said.

BEG and the Tyler Clementi Foundation also requested an apology for inviting author and speaker Alan Shlemon to speak in a homosexuality seminar, where he reportedly endorsed sexual orientation change efforts, such as reparative therapy, according to Green.

Standing against reparative therapy and article seven

“Reparative therapy has been proven not to be effective, but to not only [be ineffective], but be even more harmful to student’s life, and this is really life threatening things. And the administration has not taken it seriously,” said Mitchell Gold, board member of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

The seminar was intended to provide Christian and secular arguments and research for homosexuality in the Bible for an apologetics class, according to manager of media relations Jenna Loumagne in an email.

“The seminar hosted on Sept. 29-30 was not a seminar in support of conversion/reparative therapy,” Loumagne said in an email. A guest lecturer from outside the university, Alan Shlemon, included a reference to conversion/reparative therapy in his presentation as part of providing multiple viewpoints, however, he did not share the research in support of conversion/reparative therapy.”

After the lecture, administration refused to publish the seminar online, according to BEG’s request letter. Out of respect for those who paid to attend, administration informed BEG that they do not post paid events online, according to Loumagne in an email.

Despite not signing the Nashville Statement as an institution, 10 Biola professors signed the statement within 30 days of its release in September. BEG claimed article seven, which states, “WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption,” does not align with Biola’s official policy on sexuality.

“So basically we wanted to point out the incongruency between Biola’s own policy with having Sustinere on campus... versus the Nashville Statement article seven itself... which says that you cannot identify as gay and Christian at the same time,” Green said. “We see this dissonance occurring between certain professors with power and privilege and tenure versus Biola policy.”

According to Loumagne in an email, administration has responded to the Tyler Clementi Foundation, including the seminar specifically by saying Biola does not endorse reparative therapy.

“Biola University is a Christ-­centered institution founded on truth, love and grace and seeks to be a community where all students, staff and faculty can thrive,” Loumagne said in an email. “In response to the Tyler Clementi Foundation demands, a representative from the university spoke with a representative from the foundation on Friday, Dec. 1. The university informed the foundation that the university stands with them against any type of bullying and that the university will be thoughtfully considering their requests.”

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Rich Harrington

    Biola University needs to go farther than just "not endorsing" so-called conversion therapy. Biola must come out against the practice and finally say that sexuality cannot be changed and that it is not a sin. December 6, 2017

  2. Shane L

    Biola doesn't represent the faith participants I know, and it is time for the national associations that license mental health professionals to the pull the plug on their program! December 6, 2017

  3. Erin Green

    Incredible article! Thank you for your unbiased reporting on this! #Badtheologykills December 6, 2017

  4. Taylor

    So happy this event happened. There are queer Christians at Biola (I was one of them in 2014) and I'm so happy they have folks standing up for them <3 December 6, 2017

  5. Stephanie

    Thanks for the article. And Steve, your comment is a perfect example of why this demonstration was so important. It wasn’t just about the Nashville Statement, but about how the brand of theology you are expressing kills people. Scripture also tells us to love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. As a Christ-centered school, Biola’s priorities and responses must abide by those two greatest commandments, no matter the Biblical interpretation of cherry-picked verses. If anyone thinks this is an exaggeration, listen to the stories told by students and alums at the demonstration. #BadTheologyKills December 6, 2017

  6. Ben

    Their banner #badtheologykills is so accurate. So many are being misled by false doctrine that tells the believer that they may live in sin and still find their salvation secure in Christ. There’s so much incongruency in this, where PRIDE and SIN are labeled righteous in contrast to a life of SURRENDER and REGENERATION to Jesus Christ our Lord. December 6, 2017

  7. Kris

    Yes, thank you, Ben. Thankful for Biola and its ongoing commitment to uphold God's Word and design despite increasing cultural pressures to compromise under the guise of "love." December 6, 2017

  8. Bob Fritch

    Rich, I beg to differ with you, sexuality can be changed and homosexuality is a sin! If those gay students are having such a time, then just leave Biola and attend a secular university where your perversity is appreciated and celebrated. Biola is committed to the inerrant Word of God and to true biblical sexuality that marriage as God designed it is to be between one man and one woman. What Biola teaches is good theology, bad theology is what says that homosexuality is not a sin and God made me like this, uh, no, God does not make anyone homosexual. That is a lie from Satan himself! There are testimonies of hundreds of former gays who Christ has delivered and transformed from the inside out who many are now married to a person of the opposite sex, even some of them were gay or lesbians themselves. Those who call themselves "gay Christians" may want to reread 1 Corinthians where it says that the sexually immoral shall not see the kingdom of God. Christ today would tell the homosexual as He did the woman caught in adultery, I do not condemn you but go and sin no more. He calls the homosexual as much as the adulterer to repent! December 6, 2017

  9. Steve

    So if you disagree, you are removed from the thread, so much for the freedom of "Higher Education". December 6, 2017

  10. Michael

    I pray Biola stands firm in the Faith and Truth of the Word of God. Truth is not comfortable. Truth is the piercing sword! Truth does not justify sin. Truth does not change with culture. Truth is found in the Word of God and it will set you free.

    We have all fallen short of the glory of God and are sinners. But there is great news in the Gospel that through repentance of our sins and faith in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the grave, you are set free! Your new identity is in Christ Jesus! Not in the sins of your old self! Be free my brothers and sisters, lay aside the things of this world: malice, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, pride, covetousness, and greed. Do not be fooled by the enemy. Be humble and submit yourself to the Lord and He will set you free.

    It is true that Bad theology kills... this "love" of justifying sexual sin and placing ones sexual identity as more core than your true identity in Christ, is from wolves in sheep's clothing. That is the true bad theology. It is antithetical to the word of God! It is theology that will lead souls to damnation. Be set free brothers and sisters, hear the shepherd's voice and the pull of the Holy Spirit. You do not need these false prophets, all you need is the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the truth revealed in His glorious word!

    Praying for Biola, my church, and each of you! Be strong and persevere in the faith! December 7, 2017

  11. Gail

    Thank you for this article. I think it is an accurate report of the concerns at hand.

    As a former Biola student, lesbian, and credentialed school psychologist, the prominent (and troubling) question on my mind is....where is Rosemead School of Psychology in all of this? As an APA accredited graduate school of psychology, it seems to me that you are the ones to lead the way in providing up-to-date, research based information about LGBTQ identity and relationships as well as advocating for the wellbeing of Biolas LGBTQ students. You have repudiated the validity of reparative therapy, yet what exactly is your stance? Clearly, you are not the ones disseminating information. Instead, individuals such as Alan Schlemon are filling the that gap with thoughts that are clearly not in line with APA guidelines nor based on current research.

    I hope Rosemead will work with the University to approach things differently in the future. December 7, 2017

  12. Jason

    Biola University should not be receiving federal and state funding, along with exemptions from paying taxes and federal Title IX nondiscrimination protections, if it continues to promote so-called "conversion therapy" and statements and policies that harm LGBTQ students.

    There is a difference between religious beliefs and harmful actions made based on those beliefs. The science is clear that sexual orientation and gender identity does not need to nor can it be changed. The science is clear that religious-based bullying and rejection is a root cause of the harm experienced by LGBT people, from homelessness to suicide.

    Beyond the science and policy lies a grave moral failure. How does bullying and denying the very existence of LGBT people uphold the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. Bad theology does kill, and it's time for Biola to stop. December 8, 2017

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