Note: Today’s post was not originally scheduled for this series. However, it fits at this point of our journey: humbly talking with God. My alma mater recently made a move that is upsetting to many within its community (and many agree with it wholeheartedly). But I believe it to be unjust and ask that people on all sides take a step back and humbly seek God’s will.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” ― Desmond Tutu
“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” –James Baldwin
In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr., implored moderate, white Christians to speak up. Too many would acknowledge the injustice of racism, but few did anything about it. Few would even speak about it.
There are times when we must speak up about the injustices we are witnessing. When those injustices are being perpetrated by the people and institutions we love, we must speak up even more. The fact that we love our associations to church, nation, college, job, or any other entity demands, as Baldwin said, that we perpetually call out the wrongs in order to work towards making them right.
I am a graduate of Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX. I loved my time there in attaining a total of three degrees. I was taught well. I developed many lifelong friendships. I was mentored–and that mentoring has continued. I was spiritually shaped. I am where I am in professional life because of the education I received at ACU. I met my wife while we were both students.
In summary: I love ACU.
And ACU has done a lot of great things. ACU has shown a willingness to stretch and grow beyond what many would consider comfortable.
Not too long ago, a terribly racist video was filmed in a campus dorm and exploded on social media. ACU acted swiftly. The students involved were invited to leave campus by the end of that day. But the university’s action did not end there. Administration members actively sought out and listened to minority students, staff, and faculty. They heard without making excuses. They attempted to find ways to continually improve relationships across all ethnicities on campus.
ACU is far from perfect in the realm of racial reconciliation, but there is an awareness and a desire to grow that I truly appreciate.
Recently, ACU made a mistake. I am not privy to all the information and all the nuances, so it may be unfair for me to make that statement, but I will make it again: ACU made a mistake. And this past week, they doubled down on it.
Due to a recent awful occurrence surrounding the potential hire of a couple with ties to a fully LGBTQ affirming church, the university has amended and restated its policy concerning LGBTQ relationships.
One of the results of this new policy is essentially a “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy for employees. If faculty, staff, or student workers (Graduate Assistants, student researchers and others) are found to be in a same sex relationship, they can be dismissed from their jobs (and some student life positions, such as Resident Assistants, are not allowed to be out at all). Although the policy states that faithful people can study the Bible and arrive at different places theologically, the university as an institution is desiring that its employees be in line with the institution’s theology.
While part of that makes sense, it also creates a toxic environment which will lead members of the LGBTQ community back into the closet. They will be afraid to be themselves. They will be constantly looking over their shoulders. They will believe they have to hide a part of themselves to be a part of this university community.
There are many layers to this topic and conversation. But those of us who are largely unaffected by policies such as this have been silent for too long. Our neutrality has not helped our brothers and sisters who are being punished for who they are. It is time to stop allowing our neutrality to freeze us. It is time to speak up for those, like the mouse in Bishop Tutu’s analogy, who are feeling the weight of the oppressor coming down upon them.
I love my university. They have made difficult changes before. They have even stood up and made apologies before.
I pray they do so again.