For the next seven weeks, the group Soulforce will test the hospitality of Christian colleges. Some schools have decided to withdraw the welcome mat for the national pro-gay activist group, while others are accommodating the protesters with housing and events.
Sixteen Christian colleges are preparing for the uninvited guests from what Soulforce is calling Equality Ride. The seven-week bus tour launching today will take 35 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and straight 18- to 28-year-olds to colleges with behavior codes that Soulforce calls discriminatory.
The religious schools Soulforce is protesting specifically ban homosexual behavior along with other non-marital sexual activity.
Soulforce will visit 12 members and three affiliates of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. CCCU president Bob Andringa told CT he has not seen protests at colleges like this in his 12 years heading the council. "I knew that none of our campuses would welcome that kind of outside [message]: 'We're coming, whether you want us to or not.'"
College presidents "are not afraid of violence, but more afraid of outside organizations intercepting [the protesters] on or near the campus," Andringa said. "Christians who are anti-gay will try to confront the riders, and that may cause unanticipated conflict."
Each college is taking a different approach. Some colleges are not allowing Soulforce on their campuses. Others are permitting the riders to hold panel discussions. One college is paying for the group to stay in a hotel, and another college is inviting them into their homes. Andringa said the CCCU is not recommending any particular approach to the schools.
"They would love to have good dialogue, but I think they fear the motivations of ...1