Well Rwanda is just full of surprises, this week: a visit from Gordon College’s own Jen Jukanovich! Over a nice meal of brochette and chips our conversation moved from development philosophy to the elephant in the room: President Lindsay’s signature on the letter to Obama. Obviously we had our different opinions, but there was one thing we agreed on: the lack of real dialogue on this issue.
Log into your Facebook and chances are you’ll see a number of posts either supporting or condemning Lindsay’s choice to sign on with other prominent names in the Christian world. Then, look at the comments on that post. I’ll bet money that someone stated an opinion that is marginally against the poster’s perspective, and at least one or two people immediately replied and treated them like a bigot/extremist.
Answer this: at what point did Lindsay ever condemn LGBT+ individuals? I’ve only read the letter to Obama and Lindsay’s response to his signature, but in my opinion he never came off as a homophobe. So why are people treating him like he is one?
Yes, it is a terrible thing to have legal justification for not allowing someone to have a job because of some part of their identity, but how new is an idea like this to Gordon? Everyone who comes through, students and faculty, sign a statement of faith and life and conduct statement. Within it, it talks about the vices that Gordon affiliates must abstain from: greed, lust, and, in this case, acts of homosexuality – so, if someone were to apply to work at Gordon and openly admit to being in a homosexual relationship, should Gordon be forced to change it’s beliefs?
Here’s how Jen put it: the life and conduct statement is Gordon’s philosophy and guidelines of behavior (freedom with boundaries as she put it), however it is only a personal statement and would, most likely, not be grounds if ever used in court. So, if someone were to feel targeted for being LGBT+ Gordon would need some form of legal support – in comes religious exemption. In their eyes (and I apologize if I misconstrued this Jen, correct me if I’m wrong) this justification would only be used if needed, never to fire or target someone because they identify as LGBT+.
Now, I have other reasons why I am against religious exemption, but I understood where Jen was coming with this idea. And I get that some of you guys might be totally against it, and that’s okay too because we are all allowed to have our own opinion, however too often am I seeing Facebook fights and subtweets denouncing others for having different ideas.
Honestly, did someone really relate Gordon College to the Westboro Baptist Church? Seriously? I respect the people I go to school with because of the conversations we can have over hard issues like this. With the amount of Real Talk’s put on by ALANA and Dialogue Club events I really was expecting more maturity and growth when it came to this topic, instead I’m seeing a division among the campus.
Moral of the story: before you go to comment on someone’s update to this current event, please take into account the other person’s side. Why are they thinking the way they are? Maybe then we can move from 30+ comment chains full of mudsling to 30+ comment chains of ‘I see where you are coming from’ and ‘I would like to explore this idea more.’
Extra Credit: try thinking from another religion’s view, other than Christianity (cause the word RELIGIOUS exemption includes others too…)