The Soulforce Equality Ride is in North Carolina March 17-19. While in the state, the group of 25 young activists will visit Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest and Campbell University in Buies Creek. Join us here at the qnotes blog each day for personal commentary on their activities and actions at the two schools from Rider Sabrina Diz.

2010 Equality Riders were met with protests at their first stop at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, Penn., on March 5.
2010 Equality Riders were met with protests at their first stop at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, Penn., on March 5.

Yesterday we got together and talked about Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). The administration was reluctant to let us do much more than attend chapel with students and staff. They added that they thought it was “ludicrous” for us to request time for open dialogue with students on campus and denied our requests to hold workshops or discussions. I’m not sure what is so crazy about an institution of higher learning allowing for students to have a safe space to talk and ask questions, especially when these students are going to graduate and one day find themselves in need of answers to questions on the intersection of justice, faith, and sexuality.

The stop organizers, Kimmy DeVries, decided to accept their invitation to chapel; after all, she believes that it came from a place of love. Chapel and service went smoothly. Aside from personally perceiving the minister to be extremely sexist, it was a good sermon with an honest message. Ironically, the message was on “practice what you preach” and the gap between your faith and your character.

Essentially, the sermon is exactly what the Equality Ride is all about. Our goal is to allow the schools that we visit to re-examine the ways in which they act toward the LGBTQ community and the ways in which Christian values call us to actually behave. SEBTS has a policy that discriminates against queer students. The school holds a vague school policy that deams “homosexual behavior” as synonymous to sexual immorality and this, in our view, does nothing to promote safety for the queer community on campus. We believe that this is equal to spiritual violence and can easily be understood to justify other kinds of violence.

So after chapel we spoke to students that came up to us for about twenty minutes. I had great conversation with three female students. The conversation switched back and forth between the Bible, ethics, and morality. It was deep and yet lighthearted. Moments in time that feel like you’re talking to old friends. As I looked around I noticed that I was not the only one. There were dozens of students interested in chatting with us! Unfortunately, security sternly asked that we leave. Afraid of getting arrested, we had to go.

We drove on the big, queer bus to a corner right outside of school grounds and vigiled. The songs attracted some students, including one of the girls who I was speaking to earlier! We continued talking, and even though we debated on some fundamental beliefs of scripture (most notably that I don’t believe being queer is a sin) we absolute agreed that justice is a cornerstone of Christianity.

Soon after we moved on to a public park where even more students showed up to continue dialogue. It was a beautiful sunny day and perfect for making friends. Some students and Riders were engaged in heady discussion and debate, however, it was never angry or violent. I truly believe that Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary could have easily provided a space for all this to occur, and it is a shame that they blew a chance at providing all their students an opportunity to practice what they preach

About Sabrina Diz
As a youth, Sabrina, 28, yearned for a faith community. As she also began her coming out process at the same time, she found searching for a faith home difficult. That is, until she found Metropolitan Community Churches. Years later, the Frederick, Md., native is taking her faith journey on the road to visit other LGBT Christians, reach out to those in need of support and speak to those who would make outcasts of her LGBT brothers and sisters. She says, “There was no way I could pass up an opportunity to engage in dialogue with people who might not believe in God’s superfluous love…or who might ignore others that, like I did, may feel isolated, deserted, or forgotten.”

About the Equality Ride
The Equality Ride is now in its fourth year and on the road in pursuit of justice for transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people through engagement and action. This year’s ride will stop at 16 campuses in the Northeast, South, and Midwest — all with policies that are discriminatory to LGBTQ students. The ride in 2010 places a special focus on community work and will engage with campuses and their surrounding communities. We will partner in volunteer work, host organizing forums, link students with community members, and support existing justice work.

Learn more about Soulforce and the Equality Ride…

Ed. Note — Editor Matt Comer was a participant on the 2007 Equality Ride.