Virginia Beach, VA (PRWEB) March 11, 2006
Despite previously having agreed to a day of dialogue with the Soulforce Equality Riders, Pat Robertson’s Regent University has now rescinded their invitation, refusing discussion and stating that their presence on campus will constitute trespassing. Regent University is the second stop for this group of young adults on a two-month journey to Christian colleges and military academies that ban GLBT enrollment. This comes after 24 people, some Equality Riders and other supporters from nearby colleges were arrested at Liberty University.
“We had remained optimistic, despite nearly six weeks of unreturned phone calls and emails, that forums for genuine dialogue would emerge,” says Equality Rider Chad Grandy, the point person for Regent University.
On February 21, the webpage on the Equality Ride site was updated to reflect the nature of that continuing dialogue, stating: Regent University has refused dialogue thus far with the Equality Ride, but the riders are undeterred in their hope for dialogue with the school. On February 22, the riders received a positive response from the University with a proposed schedule for the two days on campus.
On February 25, a subsequent press release from the Equality Ride quoted Vice President of Academic Affairs Randall Pannell when he said “We at Regent University are looking forward to the Equality Ride’s visit, and are trying to prepare so that this will be a positive experience for both Equality Ride, as well as Regent University.” In that same press release, Equality Ride Co-Director Jacob Reitan commended the school’s choice to embrace academic freedom and discussion.
As of March 7 Regent is now closed to dialogue and access, citing two issues, one the continued presence on the Equality website of the phrase, “…Regent University has refused dialogue…but the riders are undeterred.” The second issue is the riders’ statement that Regent indeed has a policy banning GLBT students. “This was true before the February 22 communication from Pannell, and it remains true. The school did tacitly refuse any dialogue.” Regent did not request that this statement change prior to fully recanting on the schedule. Pannell writes in the withdrawal letter, “In spite of the fact that the Soulforce Equality Ride is aware that we have no such policies, the facts continue to be misstated.”
The activists recently discovered that the University does have a stated policy that appears to ban homosexual enrollment. The handbook reads “…homosexual conduct or any other conduct, which violates Biblical standards, is prohibited.” While the school maintains the policy refers to behavior, the Equality Riders are concerned it may be a form of discrimination.
The Equality Ride is an action of Soulforce, an activist organization committed to ending the stigmatization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people--stigmatization caused by religion based bias.