Gay activists press student government for support, threaten BSU with expulsion
By Allen Palmeri
October 26, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – The Southwest Missouri State University Student Government Association’s (SGA) bid to force campus groups like the Baptist Student Union (BSU) to abide by a sexual orientation non-discrimination resolution was thwarted Oct. 12.
If passed it could have resulted in the SGA expelling groups like the BSU from being on campus if they failed to comply. Presumably preaching and teaching that homosexuality is sinful would constitute discrimination under the SGA measure. Student senators referred the controversial bill to a committee to further study its legality after 21/2 hours of debate produced no consensus. It is possible the measure could return for a vote sometime in November.
Missouri Baptist students on campus, led by BSU senators Zach Miller and Mike Smith, resisted the pro-homosexual resolution.
“The reason it hasn’t passed is because people have stood in the gap — both personally (putting themselves) at risk and by praying and asking a holy God to intervene,” said Dean Finley, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) campus minister to three universities in Springfield. “In this case, it means that we ourselves are going to take on the task of examining discrimination and also assessing penalties.
“Our senators have stood with good courage. Comments directed toward them or toward their ideas have generally been met with anger. They say things like, ‘You just hate people. You don’t want to protect peoples’ rights.’ I have several e-mails myself that say, ‘You’re a hateful person.’ At no point have I said that.”
Finley said that Missouri Baptist students at SMS are faced with the possibility that they may lose the favored status they now enjoy as a campus group. If that were to happen, the BSU would be expelled from the campus.
“I think that recognition by the university is not something that determines whether Missouri Baptists are able to care for students in Springfield,” Finley said. “We’re going to continue to care for students. The university’s not going to come over to our center on campus and say, ‘You can’t talk about Jesus.’ I’m not an employee of the Baptist Student Union. I work with the MBC, so the Missouri Baptist Convention’s going to continue to have a ministry there in that place.”
Student senators stopped short of disapproving student organizations that believe homosexuality to be wrong, but in moving the issue to committee they signaled that they want to continue a 12-year process that has seen both the Faculty Senate and Student Senate pass similar resolutions twice previously, Finley said.
The university’s Board of Governors has managed to hold the biblical line. In the spring, a motion to take up the issue died for lack of a second.
“There is an agenda in gay activism,” Finley said. “It’s not just enough for people to tolerate us, but gay activism says, ‘We are going to be active in the process of silencing those who do not agree with us.’ They look for ways to push the agenda, and this is an example of that.”
In response to the move within the estimated 19,000-student body of Southwest Missouri State University to codify pro-homosexual policy, MBC leaders prayed for Finley before starting their monthly staff meeting Oct. 5.
“God, from the beginning of time, Your picture of marriage was a bride and a bridegroom, not two brides, not two grooms,” prayed MBC Executive Director David Clippard. “Here’s just a direct affront to the very character and the person of Jesus Christ and His relationship with us. Father, I see this as a great spiritual battle that just continues to wage in our culture and time. Father, I pray for boldness in Christian pulpits across our country to proclaim the truth, Father, that Jesus Christ is Lord.
“Father, we know You are Lord, no matter what happens. We come to this time when really we are powerless. We need to see Your hand strong. So, Lord Jesus, You are a very present help in time of trouble, a strong tower, a refuge. We run to You. Now this battle is Yours, it’s not ours. Our desire would be that the student government would vote this down and it would not go into effect, that the picture of marriage would continue as a man and a woman. Lord, give us strength, understanding, wisdom and resolve to minister to these students, whether they are gay or straight or anything in between. Father, I pray You would give us a love for them, that they would come to know You as Lord and Savior.”
Jason Allen, MBC campus minister to Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, prayed that God would help Finley’s student leaders figure out what to do next.
“We pray, Lord, for Your wisdom and Your heart for that campus, and that You would help us to know how to move ahead,” Allen said.
Finley was grateful for the prayer support.
“It’s a humbling experience to know that the people of God come together,” he said. “ Israel had to learn this. You don’t win battles by your own might. God really does a work, and the reason why God, I think, works that way is because when it is accomplished, it is evident to people that what has been accomplished is not by the power of the soldier, is not by the intellectual insight or the battle strategies of those who are involved in the fight, but it is obvious in the case of Daniel, in the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in the case of Jericho, that God is at work.
“I think that’s what prayer is about, and I think I was especially reminded of that today.”
Finley said what is happening to Missouri Baptist students at Southwest Missouri State is a form of suffering that is described in the Bible.
“When Christ engages the culture, it results in the cross,” he said. “When a holy God comes in contact with a sinful world, the world always says, ‘Shut up. Be quiet. We don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to be reminded of what’s happening in our lives.’ So there will be movements to silence the voice where truth is spoken.”
The resolution was diverted to a committee, in part, because it may be difficult to enforce. Finley wondered if it would be possible to police all 300 organizations that meet on campus.
“It would take a huge effort to inspect 300 organizations and see if they are in compliance with a discrimination clause based on sexual orientation,” Finley said. “I know that the leadership of SGA is concerned about that. How do we do that? Who’s going to do that? Remember, these are full-time students, and many of them have jobs. How are they going to get around and check this all out? Who’s going to bring the charges?”
Danah Alahmad, a senior at SMS who participates in the BSU, said the debate by senators reflects a campus attitude that is becoming more restrictive.
“You can’t even say a generic ‘he’ anymore,” Alahmad said. “If you use a generic, it’s got to be the female ‘she,’ which is obviously from the feminist movement, and I think that’s just kind of ridiculous. I really do think it’s a political correctness movement (on campus), and I really don’t see the point in it. We need to learn to get along with each other.”