Click here to listen to Matt speak about his journey on the Ride and arrest at Cornerstone on WUNC’s State of Things w/ Frank Stasio
I was arrested for trespassing Monday at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan (previous post, Cornerstone: What we are facing), as we attempted to take a gift from the Soulforce Equality Ride (www.equalityride.com) to the student body of the University and initiate conversation and dialogue on the myriad of issues revolving around faith, sexuality and being gay and Christian.
Both Stephen and I were charged with misdemeanor trespassing, set a court date of May 1st (this is the date on which we would plea guilty, not guilty or no contest — a date I hope I don’t have to keep) and we spent about five and a half hours in jail (most of it in a small holding cell with 8 other people).
2 arrested at Cornerstone in gay rights protest
Updated: April 23, 2007 10:28 PM
Matt Comer and Stephen Krebs
GRAND RAPIDS — Two members of a gay rights group were arrested at Cornerstone University after the group vowed it would come to the campus even though the university made it clear it wasn’t welcome.21-year-old Matt Comer of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Stephen Krebs of Washington, DC, were arrested after arriving on the campus with the Soulforce Equality Ride, a group on a nationwide tour of college campuses.
Soulforce, a group of Christian gay and lesbians with a message promoting sexual diversity on college campuses, visited Cornerstone University on Monday.
“They’re not really interested in dialogue; they want media visuals,” said Cornerstone University President Rex Rogers. “They want to be seen being arrested. They like being portrayed as victims.”
Over 30 members of Soulforce visit universities it believes are homophobic.
“We bring a message of affirmation and of compassion and inclusion,” said Equality Rider Vince Pancucci.
Soulforce first contacted Cornerstone in November, asking permission to meet with students and promote sexual diversity and spirituality.
“We do not align historically or otherwise doctorinally as a Christian university in what they say and believe,” said Rogers.
As a private institution, Cornerstone denied the request for the visit.
As 24 Hour News 8 showed up with cameras, the visit took on the appearance of a media stunt.
“It’s a symbolic action of just saying, we’re not welcome,” said Pancucci. “This is what happens if gay people try to talk with Christian students on the campus.”
Soulforce made the same request of Christian-based Calvin College.
“They were going to come,” said Shirley Hoogstra, Vice President of Student Life at Calvin, “We were going to make sure we had a worthwhile visit.”
“We’re very clear as a denomination: marriage is reserved for a man and a woman, but that we have to offer pastoral care for persons with same sex attraction.”
Calvin believes it will help understanding to have discussion with the group.
Representatives have been working together in recent months creating on-campus educational programs leading up to Tuesday’s visit.
Click here to visit the site.
You can also check out the advance article in the Grand Rapids Press (I’ll post the real article from Tuesday’s paper on Tuesday).
Ok… so, first off: There are just a few problems, obviously, with the news coverage from this NBC station. Firstly, the reporter obviously doesn’t know his journalistic “do’s and don’t’s,” especially when it comes to us gay folk. It isn’t “sexual preference” Mr. Center… look those standards up again; I know they say “sexual orientation.”
Also… I absolutely can’t stand that the reporter played right into the hands of Cornerstone’s Dr. Rex Rogers, making our direct action look like only a media stunt. For a reporter who didn’t even have enough responsibility to show up to the press conference, he has some big balls trying to assume what is happening right when he just happened to show up. The time of our direct action was set days in advance and was certainly not decided upon just because the big NBC truck decided to roll up (late for the press conference, mind you).
Cornerstone University is a place where LGBT people are not free to be who they are and to live their lives with integrity, grace and in a way which seeks after the heart and will of God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Cornerstone is a place where the school president openly places LGBT people in the same category as child molesters, rapists and murderers and openly doubts the Christianity and faith of others just because they are gay.
Our presence at Cornerstone was a strong one. Our attempt to walk onto campus, delivering a beautiful piece of artwork symbolizing “the Cornerstone” (i.e. Christ) was rejected by Cornerstone University. What harm would have come in letting us deliver the stone to the student body? What harm would have come in LGBT Christians speaking plainly, honestly and openly with others of our faith and others who share the same never-ending trust in Christ? Nothing.
I have been deeply hurt, wounded and offended by the words of Dr. Rex Rogers and the actions of Cornerstone University. I have gone to jail, forced to be silent and forcibly kept away from speaking with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Dr. Rex Rogers and Cornerstone University should be ashamed of themselves.
Here is the Scripture quoted on the symbolic cornerstone which Stephen and I attempted to deliver to the University.Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 12:16-19, ESV (src)(9) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (10) Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (11) Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (12) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (13) Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (16) Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[b] Never be conceited.