Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes at Belmont University

Lots has changed at Belmont University since the December departure of lesbian women’s soccer coach, Lisa Howe. Howe and Belmont parted company by mutual agreement according to official accounts, but this tortured non-explanation of why the popular and successful coach left never made any sense. What did make sense was what her players reported being told by university administrators: Howe was pushed out because she is a lesbian and that was incompatible with the university’s Christian views.

After lots of negative media attention, student protests and public outcry, including a threat to withdraw financial support by a major university donor, it seems that Belmont has seen the light. In quick succession, the university has made two significant policy changes - the university has amended its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation as an enumerated category. Bizarrely, the university president still insists that this change is merely making official what the university policy has always been, actions to the contrary. The second change is that the university has bestowed official recognition to an LGBT student group that has previously been denied recognition twice.

You’ll have to forgive my cynicism. I think the only reason Belmont made these policy changes is that they were forced to by the public outcry and, more importantly, the potential loss of a major donor.

The third change is that Belmont has hired a new women’s soccer coach. Despite calls to rehire Lisa Howe, this was not to be. The new coach, Heather Henson, is married to a man so all is right with the world again at Belmont. I am happy they hired a woman to coach the women’s team rather than hiring a heterosexual man to eliminate the possibility of inadvertently hiring another lesbian as some other schools have done. Think LSU post Pokey Chatman.

I am happy that Belmont has been pressured into making these changes and I do hope that the university is sincere in backing their new gay affirmative policies with action and commitment. We’ll see. It just seems a shame to me that Lisa Howe is still out of a job at Belmont, a job she apparently did very well until she made the mistake of being honest and open. I hope that her sacrifice results in actual change in life on campus for other LGBT staff and students. At least then her loss will have meant something. Time will tell.

Perhaps Belmont is part of a new kinder, gentler Christian perspective on homosexuality in which LGBT people can be respected, if not accepted and in which the fact that some LGBT people are Christians too is not viewed as an oxymoron. We’ll see.


Wyman Stewart said...

In my mind and heart, this is a complicated issue. Any religious based college or university should adhere to its religious beliefs and policies.

What you point out, does appear hypocritical, taking your words at face value. Money seems to have bought the institution's morality and ethics. At the same time, I suspect, the Lesbian/Gay community's lack of respect for the values and beliefs of religious colleges, shows a strong desire to "corrupt" those values in whatever way works. A kind of "means justifies the ends" mentality.

Yes, I am straight. No, I do not believe in the homosexual lifestyle. YES, I do BELIEVE some people are born HOMOSEXUAL. God will judge each of us as individuals, so not being God, I CAN'T know God's Final Judgement on any person. However, I can try to know others by their works, as they come to know me by my works.

It is the politics that bothers me most on both sides. I agree, a case can be made that Lisa Howe should be the coach, although both sides may have accepted this as a moot point.

I understand you must profess a point of view. I must live from my heartfelt point of view as well. Disagreement can be a healthy thing; even educational.

Yet, understand, I feel UNDER ATTACK by people like yourself. That, to me, is the wrong way to pursue a reasonable and civil nation.

I bookmarked you to hear what the other side has to say. Perhaps we can discuss other topics as they arise. Thank you for your openness and willingness to accept opposing comments. A person should be him or herself, whatever that may be. It may not engender acceptance, but it is honest. Thank you for your time.

Pat Griffin said...

Wyman, thank you for a thoughtful comment in response to this post. It is ironic is it not that you feel under attack from people like me and I feel under attack too. Maybe not from people like you, but from others who call themselves Christians also. It is a shame we have such difficulty respecting our differences even though we do not agree. Just for the record, I do not know any LGBT people I respect who advocate denying anyone rights based on their religious beliefs. Can you say the same about Christians in relationship to LGBT people? Pat

Wyman Stewart said...

I get your point. That is why I call this a complicated issue. Attacks resolve nothing, which is where I see both sides at this time. Neither side chooses to look at its own side objectively. And, in the end, it comes down to an individual's personal understandings and beliefs.

That people will be in conflict, goes without saying. That some compromise will eventually prevail seems obvious too. The counterpoint to this is one side or the other destroys the opposition. Neither side has left that path behind at this point. That is the political side, which strongly manifests itself in everyday public life.

At least one danger (of many) I see, is Christians who oppose homosexuality on moral grounds, will end up ostracized and persecuted, as the result of political expediency. It is, in a sense, the "flaw" Christians built into the laws of this country, when they came here to escape religious persecution. We chose "no state religion" with hope of freedom to live, worship, promote, and convert others through open choice.

This is not perfect, of course. Now, its possible one imperfection may be, what people fled here to avoid, will take the form of a different kind of religious persecution. That makes the "other side" responsible in word and deed to prevent such from coming to pass.

You are on that "other side," I speak of. Naturally, I phrase this delicately, rather than in the everyday rhetoric of the real world. I am not interested in the "attack dog" approach, nor in carrying on a public debate.

You respected my comment and I hope this one as well. I want to respect your willingness to put yourself before the public in this and other forums, so maybe, when I can't keep from a ranting reply, you will understand I am human.

The world is a messy place. On many points, we are on opposite sides in this world. We don't stone people in this country--not by law, anyway (Amen)--so, with the guidance of Jesus Christ, I seek the wisdom of God, that's needed to live, in the age I am living in. You and others like you are a part of that age.

miere de albine said...

I think this initiative has two major advantages: a community in which it consolidated and strengthened and refined character of the men who took part in it. I hope these initiatives will be increasingly more, and separate communities and people will understand that they must work together. Just so the results will not delay to appear.

Anonymous said...

Hate is hate, (even in Jesus' name).

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