Hope College Upholds Gay Policy amid Protest

A Reformed Christian college in Holland, Mich., on Friday rejected petitions by gay rights advocates and alumni to drop its policy on homosexuality.

After months of protest and criticism sparked by a decision not to allow the film "Milk" to be screened on campus, Hope College's board of trustees reaffirmed its position that homosexual practice is contrary to Scripture.

"The college's current position on homosexuality is based on its interpretation of scripture. It is recognized that well-intentioned Christians may disagree on scriptural interpretation. Still, humbly and respectfully, the college aligns itself in its interpretation with its founding denomination, the Reformed Church in America, the orthodox Christian Church throughout the ages, and other Christian colleges and universities," the board said in a statement, according to The Holland Sentinel.

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A petition was started earlier this year in an effort to push for the removal of the college's policy on homosexuality, written in 1995, which also states that the college does not approve gay advocacy but encourages love and sensitivity in the care of all people.

Endorsed by some alumni, students and faculty, the petition was passed around after the school had barred a campus screening of the Academy Award-winning "Milk," a 2008 film on the life of Harvey Milk, who became California's first openly gay elected official.

The film's screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, showed the movie and hosted panels in two non-college theaters near the campus. The events were sold out with mainly students and faculty from Hope College.

Opponents of Hope College's policy have argued that the school has not opened dialogue on the issue of homosexuality.

The issue, however, has been discussed on campus for over a decade, particularly in 1999 when gay rights groups visited the campus and when the school denied the bid of the Gay Straight Alliance to be recognized as a formal campus student organization during the 2000-01 school year.

Hope College is a more than 140-year-old institution and its mission is to educate students for lives of leadership and service in the context of the historic Christian faith. Currently, the college has 3,230 students.

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