How Christian of You

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 01:23 PM

America is home to a growing number of Christian colleges and universities.  To my knowledge, you don't have to be a member of a specific denomination to attend, but you do, apparently, have to be straight, celibate, or...

Last week the Lexington (Ky) Herald-Leader did a story on what sexual behaviors and preferences will get you expelled from one of these institutions of "higher" learning:

Gay and lesbian students face expulsion at scores of evangelical Christian schools across the country if they come out of the closet while enrolled.

In all, more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities ban gay-lesbian-bisexual and transgendered youth, according to Soulforce, a pro-gay interfaith group. In this country, religious organizations are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, said Richard Lindsay of Soulforce.

"It's their right legally, but what we're saying is it is not their right morally," he said.

When University of the Cumberlands student Jason Johnson gushed online about his "wonderful dating adventure with a beautiful boy named Zac," he quickly discovered how unpopular gay sexuality is among conservative Christian school officials.

He's not the first gay student expelled from a Christian school for going public. Conflicts are becoming more common as society becomes more accepting of homosexuality Ð and as students turn to the Internet to share intimate details of their lives.

A student at John Brown University in Siloam Spring, Ark., was booted after he revealed his sexual orientation on his Web page. Students at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and at North Central University in Minneapolis have been kicked out in the past year, Lindsay said.

A sidebar to the story provides a sampling of discipline policies at various evangelical Christian schools, including:

  • Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, Texas: "The following behaviors may be grounds for probation, suspension or expulsion from the university: ... Premarital or extra-marital sexual relations or cohabitation on university property or in conjunction with university activities or functions."

  • Asbury College, Wilmore: "Certain behaviors are expressly prohibited in the Scripture and therefore are unacceptable in the Asbury College community. These behaviors include theft (including plagiarism), lying, dishonesty, gossip, slander, profanity, vulgarity (including crude language), sexual immorality (including adultery, homosexual behavior, premarital sexual intimacy), drunkenness, immodesty of dress and occult practices."

  • California Baptist University, Riverside, Calif.: "Unmarried cohabitation with members of the opposite sex, sexual misconduct, and homosexual behavior are unacceptable for California Baptist University Students."

  • Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas: "Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both homosexual sex and heterosexual sex outside of marriage. It is thus expected that students will not participate in advocacy groups that promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching."

  • Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio: "Examples of things that could result in dismissal ... acts of sexual immorality including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse or oral sex; homosexual acts, behavior, or promotion of a homosexual lifestyle."