Today, Faith in America spokesperson Chely Wright, a country music singer and Nashville resident, invited Belmont University officials to participate in a public dialogue about the impact of the messages sent by Christian schools when they exclude lesbian and gay students and staff.
Earlier this week, Belmont University, a private Christian College in Tennessee, gained national attention due to reports that Belmont had forced the resignation of the university’s soccer coach Lisa Howe, after Howe disclosed to her players that she and her female partner are having a child. In the wake of those reports, Howe has received an outpouring of support from her team, from other Belmont students and faculty, and from a growing number of supporters across the country. This story has continued to gain national traction, with stories appearing in Sports Illustrated and other outlets.
Wright said, “In my twenty years in Nashville – because of the close relationship that Country Music’s Music Row shares with Belmont University – I have come to know many gay and lesbian members of the Belmont community. In the past few days, I’ve heard from many LGBT students and faculty members of Belmont. They came to Belmont thinking that it was the right place for them as gay and lesbian Christians and now they are scared and confused.
“I am hopeful that President Fisher and other university officials will agree to discuss this matter in a public forum in the near future.” The forum will be sponsored by Faith in America and the Interfaith Alliance.
Belmont’s mission statement provides: “Belmont University welcomes men and women from diverse backgrounds. The university upholds the dignity of all and fosters an atmosphere of respect for the civil expression of divergent perspectives that enables students to learn, live, work and socialize together.”
Mitchell Gold, founder of Faith in America and owner of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams home furnishings, said he hopes the university will examine the message it is sending as an institution of higher learning and an influential voice within the Nashville community.
“We have reached a moment in America when a majority of the public no longer believes that using religious beliefs to justify discrimination is acceptable,” Gold said. “This moment has arrived because people within all faith communities are coming to understand that they simply can no longer be complicit in the immense harm caused to gay Americans by religious teachings that portray gay people as inherently sinful and immoral. We hope the university will accept our invitation to have a respectful public dialogue on these issues with the goal of increasing public understanding and civil discourse on one of the most important issues of our time.”
Faith in America educates Americans about the harm caused to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, especially youth, by religion-based bigotry and works to challenge those who attempt to use religious teaching to promote or justify such stigma and hostility. Visit www.faithinamerica.org and www.crisisbook.org for more information.
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism.