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Arkansas Christian University Blocks Access to Student-Published Gay Webzine

Arkansas Christian University Blocks Access to Student-Published Gay Webzine

Officials at Harding, the private Church of Christ University in Searcy, Arkansas, this week blocked access to a webzine gay students had self-published to talk about what life is like for them at Harding.

From The Advocate:

According to the Arkansas Times,The State of the Gay at Harding University contained anonymously written perspectives from current and former gay and lesbian students at Harding, a Church of Christ–affiliated institution that disapproves of homosexuality.

“It is part storytelling, part religious and political critique, and partly a manifesto of hope for Harding’s future,” the website proclaimed.

Originally slated to go live at 9 p.m. Wednesday, the site was activated ahead of schedule after news of it leaked around campus. Not long afterward, the university blocked access to it.

According to the Arkansas Times, David Crouch, director of public relations at Harding University, issued the following response to why the website was blocked:

Harding University is a private Christian university whose mission and policies are rooted in biblical principles. All students are given a copy of the handbook and know about our mission and policies before their first day on campus. The student handbook states that the university holds to the biblical principle that sexual relationships are unacceptable to God outside the context of marriage and that sexual immorality in any form will result in suspension from the university.

Based on that policy, university administrators felt that having this website available on campus goes against said mission and policies. In addition, the handbook states that any literature distributed on campus must be approved by the Office of Student Life and must state the name of the sponsoring organization. These pamphlets were both printed and distributed anonymously with no prior approval, and the website is an online version of that pamphlet.

The webzine itself paints a grim picture for gay students at Harding, including claims that students feel pressured into so-called conversion therapy.

An extract reads:

“All is not well at Harding. Our voices are muted, our stories go unheard, and we are forced into hiding. We are threatened with re-orientation therapy, social isolation and expulsion. We are told stories and lies that we are disgusting sinners who are dammed to hell, that we are broken individuals and child abusers. We are told we will live miserable lives and are responsible for the collapse of civilization. We have lost our friends and families, been kicked out of our churches and school, and are killed, or when left with no option, kill ourselves. [...] we are here to announce that we will not stand for it any longer. This is simply not acceptable. We are good people who are finished being treated as second-class citizens at Harding. We have done nothing wrong and we did not choose this suppression. We are children of God and valuable assets to this campus and the world beyond. We are not asking anything from you. We are here to tell you that we exist and will not be silenced.”

The online version of the zine contains personal stories from anonymous students that tell of how they reconciled their faith and sexuality, and also has reflections on various topics including an alternative view of certain so-called clobber passages in the Bible that are said to condemn modern homosexuality.

It is certainly true that a private university has the right to control what material is published and distributed on campus and, of course, students are free to access the zine through use of an independent Internet connection, but it is interesting to see how that right to censor has been used in this case against a portion of the student body given that religious institutions so frequently rely on the right to freedom of speech to protect their own ability to voice their opinions on sexual morality and wider life.

While the university’s faculty may be technically correct in asserting they can block whatever material they find to be “objectionable content,” that does not make this any less chilling for those students who, it would appear, are desperate to have their voices heard.

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71 comments

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3:32PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

Christopher C. - you quoted this passage from the bible and interpreted it to meant that God says homosexuality is wrong: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." I must point out that when a gay man lies with another man, it is nothing like when he lies with a woman, because he is not sexually attracted to women. Seems to me that the passage says it's a sin for a gay man to lay with women and it's also a sin for a straight man to lay with another man. In other words, we must not pretend we are straight when we are gay and vice versa.

3:16PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

Deborah W.... You are obviously grossly uninformed about how homosexuality is confirmed by science and history to be a naturally occurring sexual orientation. You knew one or two people who are gay and yet you overgeneralize your experience with them to ALL homosexual people. How can that be logical? All hermaphrodites (people born with genitalia/reproductive organs of both genders) lead pathetic lives filled with drama?!? How do you come up with this nonsense? You certainly are not reading peer-reviewed psychology journals or other scientific sources that base their findings on solid research. Do all heterosexual people have the same emotions and personalities? Do all Christians or all women have the same emotions or personalities? Of course not! That would be a ridiculous assumption. And yet you strongly hold these inaccurate stereotypes about others who are dissimilar to you. Also, just because something has been the status quo, doesn't mean that it is right. Would you have told Susan B. Anthony that women should not be allowed to vote because that's the way it's always been? Would you have told Abraham Lincoln that slavery should continue to be legal because that's the way it's always been? After all, the bible not only endorses the practice of slavery but even has sections with rules for how people must treat their slaves. Putting aside all of your inaccurate beliefs for a moment... I ask you this: What would Jesus say about your hateful and judgmental nature

2:56PM PST on Mar 7, 2011

Seriously, it sounds as if these students are not "out" to their parents and were pressured to attend this school. What a waste of everyone's time and energy to try and change a backward institution like this!

12:19PM PST on Mar 7, 2011

and it's calling itself a center for higher learning?

1:48PM PST on Mar 6, 2011

so this is democrasy?

8:10AM PST on Mar 6, 2011

Just another sign of the backwardness of Arkansas private schools. Public ones there would probably do the same thing if they could get away with it.

1:27AM PST on Mar 6, 2011

Thanks for the info.

12:57AM PST on Mar 6, 2011

Private Christian university in the South....my my...doesn't sound very inviting to me.

12:51AM PST on Mar 6, 2011

I run out of characters in my last post!

I would like to finish with:

Gay people are in the minority in most communities, thank goodness and they have no right to change the status quo.

I don't agree with bashing them up, raping them and trying to change them. That ain't gonna work, you idiots.

I don't hate them but I don't have to like the way they live just like I don't like many other cultures and their nasty habits.

What I see is they live desperate lives on the edge filled with drugs, drinking and trying to be accepted into normal life when they just aren't.

I think they should just accept they don't fit in and stop forcing people to accept them.

We just don't want to and that's it.

My experience with gay men was not a pleasant one. They were jealous of me being a woman and made my life hell in a certain situation that was uncalled for.

I feel pity for the transvestites and the hermaphrodites. They live pathetic lives filled with drama and unfulfilled lives based on lies and deception.

Thank goodness I am not one of them

12:36AM PST on Mar 6, 2011

If the gay students know the rules of this university, why did they go there in the first place????

How did they get accepted there? Did they lie about their sexuality to get in? I wonder.

It is very convenient to have your own view of what the bible means relating to your situation as these people have done.

If they call them Christians following the Bible as the be all and end all, then how can they argue about it?

Why bother being Christians then when their gay state is not acceptable? If I was gay, then I would subscribe to a religion where there was no conflict about it.

Why do people have to always change the rules and cultures to suit themselves? That's not what they were created for.

They are not going to change centuries of tradition because they feel they have rights now.

Most religions condemn homosexuality with good reason. It's not a natural state to be in to keep the world turning, is it?

If we were all gay, civilization would die out in one generation and that's just not natural.

I don't agree with the gay lifestyle at all especially the men. They go to extremes to have multiple partners anywhere, anytime and I don't see this as a cultural event or lifestyle.

It's a lascivious activity that most people don't take part in.

The university clearly states their policies and I agree with them to close these people down.

Who do they think they are to break the rules?

Gay people are in the minority, thank goodness and they have n

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