A student gay rights club in San Diego, Calif., is protesting after its members were told they will not be allowed to hold meetings on campus at Point Loma Nazarene University.
The LGBT group, called BridgePointLoma, had been trying for more than two years to get permission to organize at the Christian college, but ThinkProgress.com reports that the administration said it will "shut down any club centered around sexual orientation that makes it through the club chartering process."
Sean Lewis, a student at Loma Nazarene who has driven the LGBT initiative forward, said the group's purpose was to offer spiritual support to a "suffering population." As a result of the administration's decision, the group launched a petition urging alumni to withhold donations to the college until Loma Nazarene officials reconsider chartering the club. The petition had close to 900 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
"This is an ongoing topic that Point Loma Nazarene University is continuing to brush it under the carpet," Lewis writes in a blog post on the BridgePointLoma website addressing the issue.
"The book discussion group can only take us so far. Students will continue to not feel comfortable talking about their experiences because they don't feel they are welcome. I fear PLNU will continue to leave them where it left me my sophomore year, in my struggle with faith and sexuality: faithless, godless, and broken."
Point Loma Nazarene is a Protestant university founded in 1920 that has about 3,500 students. The university allows chartered clubs to use school facilities and services, hold on-campus meetings, and organize campus fundraisers, according to its Sept. 2012 clubs and societies handbook. Point Loma Nazarene says, however, that BridgePointLoma's purpose conflicts with its values and thus cannot be chartered.
"The Church of the Nazarene believes that every man or woman should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual orientation. However, we continue to firmly hold the position that the homosexual lifestyle is sinful and is contrary to the Scriptures," Nazarene's declaration on the issue reads.
"We further wish to reemphasize our call to Nazarenes around the globe to recommit themselves to a life of holiness, characterized by holy love and expressed through the most rigorous and consistent lifestyle of sexual purity. We stand firmly on the belief that the biblical concept of marriage, always between one man and one woman in a committed, lifelong relationship, is the only relationship within which the gift of sexual intimacy is properly expressed."
Back in 2010, Nazaren's Director of Spiritual Life, Todd Clayton, came out as a gay man while he was in office, which brought to the surface a debate on LGBT people at the university. Clayton was reportedly told he could remain in his position as long as he did not "act gay." Clayton protested to such a requirement and resigned from his position, the director revealed in an article for The Huffington Post.
Clayton, who is currently a student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, is also one of the people behind the BridgePointLoma petition, and has said that "taking a moral stand against the injustice is crucial. It is telling that an institution is creating graduates that find themselves morally incapable of supporting it after they leave.
"Signing the petition lets current LGBTQ students know that they are not alone, and that there is a network of alumni who find the injustice done against them atrocious. Injustice couched in religious language and piety remains injustice."
Dr. James Dobson, a well-known member of the Church of Nazarene who is also the founder of Focus on the Family and Family Talk, has said that his organization and his faith defend the human rights of all people, although stands in disagreement with a homosexual lifestyle.
"Whereas we have never attempted to hurt or ridicule the individual homosexual or lesbian, I do find myself in sharp disagreement with the more radical elements of the movement," Dobson explains in a letter to a gay man questioning why the Christian Church is not more inclusive. "The effort to redefine the family, qualify for adoption, promote the homosexual lifestyle in the schools, etc., are objectives with which I disagree. And I will oppose them when the issues are raised. Does that make me a hatemonger? I think not."
Members of BridgePointLoma hope to bring their petition to the president and cabinet of Point Loma Nazarene University later this week, it was reported.