Back in March of this year, Bob Jones University finally responded to a petition that had been circulating for three years asking for its chancellor, Bob Jones, III to apologize for his statements calling for gay people to be stoned to death “swiftly, as the Bible commands.”
BJUnity was grateful for that apology and hopeful for a change in the rhetoric at BJU, but we note with dismay that BJU will host Senator Ted Cruz on its campus this weekend. Last weekend, Senator Ted Cruz spoke at a conference in Des Moines hosted by Colorado Pastor Kevin Swanson, where moments before Swanson had called for the death penalty for LGBT+ people as reported by MSNBC. Senator Cruz has yet to renounce this violent rhetoric, either by Swanson or by his own father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, who persists in the long-debunked slander that gay people are pedophiles who want to legalize pedophilia. And now, Senator Cruz is bringing this hateful rhetoric back to Bob Jones University, despite the very recent apology for exactly this kind of rhetoric against LGBTQIA people.
Senator Cruz has invited Tony Perkins, head of the SPLC-designated hate group the Family Research Council and Dr. Michael Brown, a noted anti-LGBT+ talk show host, to join him on Bob Jones University’s main stage, where they will no doubt spew more of this and similar rhetoric under the guise of calls for “religious freedom,” the alleged purpose of this rally. Dr. Brown does his best to deride and silence LGBTQIA religious voices and Senator Cruz’s statements so far indicate he is interested in restricting or repealing the constitutional rights of LGBT+ people to marriage, housing, and employment free of harassment and discrimination, and to follow their consciences in worshiping God in houses of worship where LGBT+ rights are affirmed and LGBT+ lives are celebrated.
BJUnity calls on Senator Cruz to publicly and clearly denounce the hate speech and violent rhetoric of Pastor Kevin Swanson. We likewise call on Bob Jones University to renounce Senator Cruz if he does not. The lives and safety of LGBTQIA students, alumni, faculty, staff, and neighbors are put at risk when hateful and violent rhetoric gets such a conspicuous platform.
LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff, alumni and neighbors at BJU, the rhetoric of hatred and violence you will likely hear this weekend is the past, not the future of American evangelical Christianity. It’s difficult in the context of such fervid condemnation to cling to the truth that you, as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, or asexual person are a beloved child of God, made in God’s image, and that God loves you and accepts you exactly as you are. But you are not alone, and you have every right to claim the mantle of Christian faith together with thousands of LGBT+ Christians. You are worthy of the rights and dignity that every citizen of the United States is guaranteed by the Constitution, including the freedom to worship God and to create and to nurture a family with the person you love. If the rhetoric you will hear causes you pain, please reach out confidentially to BJUnity. If your thoughts turn to suicide and self-harm, please reach out to the 24-7 Trevor Project Lifeline or the Trans Lifeline. People who understand and care will offer you the support you deserve.