If you were part of the group that helped provide support to the Soulforce Equality Ride visit to Patrick Henry College back in April, you may remember Hanna Rosin, the Washington Post reporter who was with us for much of that time. She has been working on a book about PHC, and it has now been published. An excerpt is available at Alternet:
On the issues that have come to define the modern Christian right, the students at Patrick Henry generally cleave to orthodoxy. During my year and a half on campus, I never heard any student argue that homosexuality is not a sin, or that abortion should be allowed in any circumstances. I heard people criticize Bush, but only from the right. After the 2004 campaign, I heard a rumor that someone had voted for John Kerry. I chased down many leads. All dead ends. If it was true, no one would admit it publicly. At Baylor University in Waco, Texas, a much older Baptist institution that’s lately been trying to modernize, the student newspaper defended gay marriage in 2004. Such a transgression is unthinkable at Patrick Henry — so beyond the pale that the possibility is mentioned only in passing in the otherwise-very-thorough student code of conduct.
Yet a Patrick Henry student is unlikely to be caught on camera giving a loony Jerry Falwell-style rant about gays and lesbians causing September 11. They worry about gay rights, but they worry just as much about mainstream culture’s thinking they’re homophobic. “Yes, it’s a sin, but so are a hundred other things,” one of the students told me, in a self-conscious nod to the “whatever” cadence of his peers. One day a CNN crew came to film a feature story on the school on the same day some students had made two snowmen holding wooden paddles. The snow sculpture was an inside joke about the students’ fratlike ritual, recently criticized in the school newspaper, of paddling newly engaged boys. But Farris was mortified. “Do you really want a story to develop that suggests a connection between PHC and those that have beaten homosexuals, etc.?” he wrote in an e-mail to some students who had defended the snowmen as a harmless prank. “PHC ‘a school for vigilante justice.’ Is that the image you want?”
No, evidently the image Farris wants to project is this one, articulated by a blogger at Soulforce:
“The objective of this group [Soulforce] is not dialogue, but to silence our voice. Why should they care if we say that homosexual behavior, and note that I say that homosexual behavior is immoral. The reason they care, is because our voice coincides with their God given conscience. Their other objective is to drown out the voice of God, from their own hearts.”
…What sickens me most about this kind of statement is that the man unabashedly speaks for the hearts of the Equality Riders, their consciences themselves – literally from behind closed doors.
It’s not only unfair in the strictest of senses, it’s inexcusable, and I am tempted to say unforgivable.
Personally (me, Emproph), I walk this oh-so fine line of “knowing” the hearts of others when I post online, and am ever-tempted to cross it. I make every attempt to qualify what I say with evidence, partly because I know I often fail in this endeavor in my own mind.
By speaking for the hearts and minds of the Equality Riders in such a fundamentally disparaging way – at a PRESS conference – is not only to bear false witness, but to do so with the motive of spreading that false witness. It is a witness as to just how politically motivated that school is (and by “political” I mean dishonest).
Furthermore, by speaking for the “God-given conscience[s]” of the Equlity Riders (and by default, every GLBT person of faith), Michael P. Farris claims witness to what ONLY God could possibly know. And by so doing, Michael P. Farris, Chancellor of PHC, attempts to speak for God’s relationship with us. The ultimate heresy, the ultimate blasphemy, the ultimate idolatry.
More importantly and most irresponsibly, he does so without any attempt to engage the Equality Riders in order to ensure that his perceptions are accurate.
There’s just something within me that says there’s nothing more vile.
Well said, friend. And there is mounting evidence that some of PHC’s own students are not altogether comfortable with this heresy.