For immediate release
Feb. 24, 2006
Soulforce, a gay activist organization, has scheduled Abilene Christian University as one of 20 stops on a seven-week Equality Ride bus tour designed to confront selected religious and military colleges about their perspectives on homosexuality, said Dr. Michelle Morris, vice president for university relations.
Soulforce has notified ACU that 30-35 young adults will stop at ACU March 27 as the group travels through Texas. Prior to the Abilene stop, the group's itinerary shows they plan to visit Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla. From Abilene, they are going to Texas A&M University in College Station. ACU will be the seventh school visited on the bus tour, Morris said.
According to the schedule sent to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), the group plans to visit 19 institutions and one national higher education event, Morris said. Thirteen of the 19 schools are members of the CCCU, including ACU.
Soulforce leaders have stated their intention to dialogue with ACU.
"ACU views this visit as an opportunity to affirm our core values and to show Jesus' love to the individuals who will be visiting our campus," Morris said. "We believe sexual relations outside marriage between a man and woman is prohibited by Scripture. For this reason, university administration, faculty, staff and students are expected to abstain from sexual relations except within marriage.
"We also believe that Christians should treat one another as God has treated us – with clear behavior expectations but also with kindness and grace."
Jacob Reitan, co-director of the Soulforce Equality Ride, wrote in a letter to ACU president Royce Money that, "The Soulforce Equality Ride always and only seeks dialogue and education. We do not seek civil disobedience but continue to hope for discussion, negotiation and reconciliation with any group."
Morris said that open dialogue is a critical element of a quality educational institution, and she referenced a well-known quote by ACU chancellor emeritus Dr. John C. Stevens from his 1969 inaugural address: "There are no subjects on this earth, or in outer space, or in the metaphysical realm, which we cannot study on the campus of a Christian institution of higher learning. Everybody can know our basic commitment, but I hope that people will also realize that there are no closed minds and no off-limit subjects on this campus so long as in our teaching and practice we operate within the framework of our historic commitment."
Morris said ACU is in ongoing conversations with Soulforce to determine the schedule for March 27. "We hope for a day of peaceful, low-key, productive dialogue," she said.
Reitan, in his Feb. 10 letter to ACU, wrote, "…We will be appreciative guests while on your campus… and courtesy, honesty and respect remain the code by which we work."
Dr. Wayne Barnard, associate provost for student development and dean of Campus Life, said, "This is an opportunity to proclaim the message of Christ in love. As followers of Christ, we love all people, even those with whom we might disagree. We should always be prepared to give a reason for our faith, and our students need to witness Christ-followers engaging other views with calm assurance of God’s truth. Jesus talked to people with whom he did not agree, and as His ambassadors, we can do the same."
If you have questions regarding the SoulForce Equality Ride visit, contact Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact ACU's Public Relations Office.