Here’s the promised update re: Hope College and its Institutional Statement on Homosexuality, which I wrote about on Thursday.
The group Hope Is Ready, which has been one of those petitioning to have the statement withdrawn by the Board of Trustees, shared (through their Facebook page; apologies if this means you can’t follow the link) the following letter from Hope College President James Bultman yesterday afternoon.
May 7, 2010
Dear Members of Hope is Ready:
Thank you for your interest in Hope College and for the time and effort committed to sharing your concerns with the Board of Trustees. Your insights were helpful in our discussions. Those elected to hold the college in their trust have thoughtfully, thoroughly, and prayerfully considered your petition.
Relative to your petition, the Trustees have taken these actions:
1. The Board of Trustees denied your request to remove the 1995 Institutional Statement on Homosexuality
2. The Board of Trustees appointed a Trustee committee to expand the college’s 1995 position statement in the larger context of all human sexuality in such a way that the Hope community is called to a renewed encounter with the clear, demanding, and healing biblical witness regarding human sexuality.
The college’s current position on homosexuality is based on its interpretation of scripture. It is recognized that well-intentioned Christians may disagree on scriptural interpretation. Still, humbly and respectfully, the college aligns itself in its interpretation with is founding denomination, the Reformed Church in America, the orthodox Christian Church throughout the ages, and other Christian colleges and universities.
On behalf of the Hope College Board of Trustees, I thank you for your concern for the college we love and respectfully ask that you accept these decisions in the spirit with which they are rendered.
James E. Bultman
In short, it basically says nothing that hasn’t already been said, and the fact it was up on the web by 2:33pm yesterday afternoon makes it pretty clear that the Board of Trustees didn’t spend much time deliberating on their course of action.
Sad, despiriting, but unsurprising.
I’ll be thinking today about all those folks in the Hope College community — many of whom I’ve known my whole life — who do not think this way, and who work hard everyday to make sure the official college position is not the only one that gets heard.
I said in my letter to the Board, and I’m going to repeat it here: to tell any person that being sexual and making positive, fully consensual, sexually intimate connections with another human being is destructive to their spiritual well-being is an act of violence. To codify such a belief in an institutional statement makes it institutionalized bigotry, giving that belief the authority of college administration that has the power to materially effect the lives of students and employees.
I absolutely believe that such an act of violence runs counter to the Christian message that we are all called to increase joy, practice love, and work toward wholeness in the world. I don’t see how this decision by Hope’s Board of Trustees does any of that. So it sure as hell doesn’t seem very Christian to me.
*image credit: Hope College Voorhees Hall, made available through the public relations office website.
Wise words, Anna. “Violence” is accurate. I don't catch any sense of Jesus in the Statement on [against] Homosexuals.
Anna, I didn't even know you had a blog until I happened upon it just now.
You can imagine what I was Googling.
Hope you have enjoyed graduate school.
What a lovely Saturday treat to find a comment from you on my blog post!
I'm glad to have your thumbs-up for using the word “violence.” I try to be careful not to ascribe material power to thoughts and words (freedom of speech and all that), but in this case with the weight of the college as an institution behind the decision, to speak of “violence” seems appropriate.
It's certainly emotionally abusive to have figures of authority condemning aspects of human sexuality that do no harm, especially with so many young people in their care.
It is so comforting to know from personal experience how many wonderful folks are still on the ground at Hope counteracting that message.