On Sunday, Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton traveled to Messiah College in Pennsylvania to speak at an event aired by CNN called “The Compassion Forum.” Unfortunately, the senators failed at their chance to discuss Messiah College’s less than compassionate discriminatory policies toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. Messiah is one of a hundred universities that discriminate against the GLBT community. It is disappointing that the senators did not address these policies that breed intolerance and misunderstanding.
Campuses across the nation from Pepperdine to Wheaton still discriminate against GLBT students. These students have been kept from coming out and even face disciplinary penalties for acknowledging their sexuality. Penalties range from suspension and even exile from the university. Professors at such universities are sometimes forced to sign agreements and waivers proving they don’t promote the reconciliation of faith and homosexuality.
Religious universities are a place for students to continue their studies in faith, but discriminating against those who want to find common ground between their faith and sexuality only promotes religious bigotry. Religion and theology, like every area of academic study, are multifaceted subjects. To accept one dominating ideology of homosexuality limits students and professors from gaining a complete perspective of religion’s connection to modern society.
Both senators preach the politics of unity and hope. They’ve rallied the nation under the belief that our nation can only be its greatest when its citizens come together – regardless of religion, race or creed. Speaking out against fear and division is a good political platform, so the senators’ choice not to acknowledge the oppressive location of “The Compassion Forum” is disheartening. They could have used the opportunity to address the great divide between religion and homosexuality in our nation.
Addressing faith and politics is critical if the candidates want to unify our diverse country. Speaking about policies through the prism of faith adds an important dimension to their platforms. Both candidates missed the mark yesterday, letting down their GLBT brothers and sisters by choosing silence over controversy.