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Leaders urge caution as campuses brace for Soulforce demonstrators


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — In a push for broader acceptance of homosexuality, a group of about 35 young adults with the homosexual advocacy group Soulforce has announced a bus tour of 19 Christian colleges and military academies, including some Southern Baptist universities.

Dubbed the “Equality Ride,” the group’s goal for the tour is to “confront schools that ban the enrollment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students,” and they have requested that the schools offer official forums in which the activists can express their views.

The tour, which began March 9, will include stops at Baptist-affiliated Union University in Jackson, Tenn., Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla., and California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif.

Soulforce’s visit to Union will fall on a Saturday, the first day of the school’s spring break, but President David Dockery issued a letter to the university community addressing the matter for those remaining on campus.

“While we will seek to be kind and gracious in every way, it would be irresponsible for us to offer any public forum on such serious issues to a group of individuals that we do not know and who do not know us,” Dockery wrote. “This group has no investment in or accountability to the academic community or campus life of Union University.”

Homosexuality is not an issue Union would have chosen to highlight, Dockery said, but Soulforce has brought it to the forefront. He also said Union respects the right of others to choose a university consistent with their beliefs.

Mark Brister, president of Oklahoma Baptist University, addressed his campus community in a similar fashion, saying, “While we respect their right to hold their views, we also ask that they respect our right as a private institution to hold views based on our mission as an institution of Christian higher education.”