24 Soulforce protesters (including me) arrested at Falwell’s Liberty U.


Following up, as I said I would, on the Soulforce Equality Ride� events at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University today, I have some good news and some bad news.

First… the good news. I really think that we (Soulforce) were able to get our message across today at Liberty University. We talked to many students and one student, on television news, told the world how wrong he thought it was for Liberty (and Falwell) to be condemning gays and arresting us. He said that what was happening today wasn’t helping Christians or the church and it was only making them look worse. I really do believe our message was heard.

Now… the bad news, as my post title already tells you. Twenty-four of us were arrested today when we tried to enter the Liberty University campus to talk to students. One after one, as we read a speech written by Equality Ride co-director Jacob Reitan, we were arrested and eventually shuttled off to a local magistrate in Lynchburg, VA.

All 24 of us have been charged with trespassing (a Class 1 Misdemeanor), with two (one being Jake) having an extra count for inciting the trespassing.

I think there are about 151 news articles popping up on Google about this incident at the time this post was written. Absolutely no way for me to link all of them here. You can, however, check out the articles via Google News.

For those of who you are unaware of what Soulforce is or what the Equality Ride is… let me explain. Soulforce is an organization (which I am definitely joining after today, yay) which works to end religiously and politically based (mainly religious) discrimination and prejudice against LGBT persons. The Equality Ride was the creation of its brain child and Soulforce activist Jake Reitan. The Equality Ride, starting at Liberty University today, will stop at 18 colleges and universities as well as the international conference of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) in order to protest the policies of religious and military schools which ban LGBT students from being open and honest about themselves.

WDBJ-7 (Roanoke, VA) did a good news story� (with video on the site)� on its news show today. You should check it out. I’m actually in one of the scenes, although I look ugly because I was squinting my face because of the sun 🙁

From the speech all of the arrestees read, a section I really like (I almost cried while reading part of it there):

We come to Liberty University today seeking to foster understanding. Understanding that the Bible has been used for centuries to exclude and discriminate. The� Inquisitions, the Crusades, the justification for slavery, the second-class status of women, and the rejection fo the disabled are all examples of biblical misuse. Today it is the exclusion of gay and lesbian people.� Today it is gay and lesbian people who are the other — the outcasts of the Church. We must learn from history and end religion-based discrimination. Dr. Falwell, you yourself can learn from your own history. Around 40 years ago you used to not let African-American people into your church and you misused the Bible to justify your discrimination then. Today you don’t allow gay and lesbian students into your school and you use the Bible to justify discrimination now: same script… a different cast of people.

You once called the Civil Rights Movement the “civil wrongs movement”. When you did this Jerry Falwell, you misused your position as a pastor to convince other followers of Christ that God believed the races should be separate. Today you say that gay and lesbian people are sick and sinful. You blamed the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on us. You said you’d rather see Liberty University burn to the ground if it ever accepts or acknowledges our equality. In making such statements, you once again misuse the Bible, and misuse your position of power in the Church to teach others that Christ would reject us, that Christ would make outcasts of gay and lesbian people as you have done.

And so we come to your school with the understanding that once and for all we must learn from history, your history, and end religion-based discrimination. Yes, we come to your school to foster understanding: the understanding that when we profess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, that our profession of faiths does not end there. It’s bigger than that. We must also determine who this man, who this Son of God was. Indeed, Jesus was a man who widened the circle, who welcomed the people into the Church, and who told those who tried to exclude and discriminate that while you know the law by heart that you forgot the heart of the law. And that is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. Indeed, Jesus loves the outcast best. He wecomed the outcasts of his day. He called� them friends; he called them children of God…

That, I believe, is my most favorite part of the speech we all said. Indeed, indeed… Jesus Christ, my Lord and God… they widened the circle and stood truly for inclusion.

One of my favorite parts of Scripture is Galations 3:28 (the following is from the NRSV):

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Just as Episcopal Bishop Spong once said… Just as Christ transcended the boundaries of race, gender and status, and saw humans as humans… Christ would have surely included gays and lesbians if ever given the chance.

But why must Jesus be the one to do it? Why can’t we do it, with inspiration from Him? Why must we, as modern day Christians, continually look back at what Jesus said in the Bible? Do we not have the ability to feel what is right, listen to our hearts, our God and the convictions which He sends to us? God is telling us one thing very clearly: “I am a loving God… I am an accepting God… and I am your Father, unconditionally”.

It is time for all people to stand up against discrimination and prejudice propagated by religiously-motived bigotry and hate. It is time for us all to stand hand in hand and say that we shall do what we know Jesus would do if he were here today. Thank God for our hearts and our souls… for it is through those two institutions in which we find the truth and the love of God.

News Articles on today’s events and arrests:

Click here for the most up-to-date Equality Ride news on MattHillNC.com.

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Comments
22 Responses to “24 Soulforce protesters (including me) arrested at Falwell’s Liberty U.”
  1. Why are there mens and womens bathroom? Because of sexuality, right?. Don’t want to opposite sex peaking at your privates.

    Now with gay advocates claiming to seek equal rights, should the equality should go both ways? Are we seeking equality, or special privilege?

    Do women want me in the same bathroom as them? No? How come?

    Logic dictates that gays should be forced to use the opposites sexes bathrooms, shower facilities, etc.

    Good example of why:

    This is an excerpt from:

    http://pinknews.co.uk/news/law/2005-716.html

    “Gay banker to sue HSBC for £5m after dismissal

    Banker to tell tribunal he was sacked because he was gay

    08-March-2006
    Marc Shoffman

    A gay banker was allegedly sacked by HSBC for masturbating in front of a male employee in the work gym shower, an employment tribunal has been told.”

    I know when I’m at the shower in the gym, I want my privacy maintained and have a right to use the shower without someone with a sexuality that is attracted to me, staring at me.

  2. Matt says:

    Matt (Not Hill)… I think that taking one case of a stupid person doing something stupid in order to say that the whole LGBT community acts a certain way or needs to do a certain thing is a bit far out there. Stereotyping… makind judgments about a whole group of people based on the actions of the few.

    I think the gay banker was right to be fired and I absolutely abhor what he did and what he is doing now: playing the “gay card” without any basis. Sometimes discrimination is real and then other times it becomes an easy excuse for people, like the gay banker.

  3. Sam Bickett says:

    Looks like you guys got some really good press. Definitely worth a trespassing charge. Falwell looks like a dick in all the articles.

  4. Matt you’re a hero! Listen, when our junta overthrows the SGA next meeting, we’re gonna make you Provisional Governor of the Campus okay? I mean, it’s mostly a figurehead position with no real power, and the junta will still retain ultimate executive authority, but make no mistake, we will take your opinions into consideration before each and every decree. Or you could be a part our our junta if you want, but I figured you probably wouldn’t.

  5. Brian says:

    I saw the coverage on MTV and I was motivated to investigate further into this organization and what they stand for.
    I am not a homosexual but I have a couple friends that are and they raised the question to me. “If God is love then how can it be wrong to love another man?” My answer was, it’s not wrong to love another man but it is wrong to act on desires to have sexual intercourse with another man just like it is wrong to act on desires to cheat on your wife or steal a car or murder your neighbor or molest a child.
    I do not condemn homosexuality any more than I condemn stealing or murder or adultry. Now let me be clear on this, I condemn the SIN not the man or women. We are all equal in the sense that we are all unworthy of Gods love and forgiveness but he gives it anyway and we all have the God given right to seek that love and forgiveness. A gay man has just as much of a right to inherit Gods kingdom as the straight man who cheats on his wife, however they both need to do battle with their sinful desires and fully commit themselves to Gods will. Homosexual desire and intercourse is a sin but it is no greater or no less a sin than any of the other sins. The gay community has every right to seek God and redemption but if it does so promoting homosesexual behavior as being perfectly o.k. with God then it is being hypocritical. We must cast off our fleshly desires in order to pursue a more divine future. I disagree with discrimination of any kind and feel everyone should have the same rights but we all need to be honest with ourselves about what we are really doing. I don’t know where “soulforce” stands on these issues so if you would like to inform me that would be fine. Whatever their position is, my statement here stands. Brian Terry

  6. Matt says:

    I think the major differing views are summed up in the fact that some people, like yourself, believe being gay is a sin, whereas others do not believe it.

    I find it kind of insulting and degrading that you compare my love for another man with such acts as murder, pedophilia and theft. There are some major, major, major differences… My love is just that… love. Murder, pedophilia and theft are in no way acts committed out of love for another person. Those things are rooted in hate… the same hate which is used to further violence against gays and other minorities directly because of the prejudice being taught by some people from the pulpit of the Church. People like the Reverend Jerry Falwell misuse their position in the Church to further bigotry and prejudice. He did this forty years ago by discriminating against African-Americans and using Scripture to justify why the races should be seperate. He called the Civil Rights Movement the “civil wrongs movement”. I see and Soulforce sees absolutely no difference between the prejudice Falwell perpetuated 40 years ago and the prejudice he is perpetuating now.

  7. Brian says:

    I am sorry if you feel insulted but christianity makes clear that homosexuality is a sin. I also made it clear that love for another man is fine, lust is not. Lust is not o.k. in any context for that matter.
    Pedophilia is rooted in lust not hate, immoral sexual behavior is based in desire, lust and coveting, a sort of gluttany and abuse of mans sexual nature. Lets look at mans sexuality logically for a minute.
    Mans sexual nature exists for procreation, any sexual activity that does not have that end as a possibility is futile and goes against natural law, for example anal sex. The anus was designed for one purpose and sex isn’t it. When you fill up at the gas station you don’t put the pump nozzle in the tail pipe do you? No you don’t because thats not where it goes. Homosexuality is not natural behavior, it is a distortion of mans true sexuality. Now I agree with you that people like Mr. Falwell are fueling the fires of discrimination which fosters violence against homosexuals and minorities and that he is setting a bad example for true christianity.
    Christ welcomed all people to his fathers table. The Pharisee’s questioned him about eating with sinners, they seeing themselves as the righteous distanced themselves from the theif and the whore or the liar and the murderer and homosexuals. They saw these people as a disease that needed to be quarantined and wiped out but they were wrong. Christ saw them for what they were, people just like you and I, people who had made poor decisions or were confused or a slave of their greed or desires, they were the lost and Christ knew this and he knew that it was his job to reach out to these people not cut them off.
    Please don’t get me wrong, alot of christians like myself would think that they are better than you and would condecend you for being a homosexual. I do not, as a matter of fact I have probably sinned alot more than you have, making me worse or lower than you in the eyes of so-called “Christian America” I have no illusions of the amount of wickedness I have commited because of my weaknesses, my past is black with evil and that is why I reach out because I know that if it had not been for the sacrifice of Jesus I would most definately be doomed.
    Just out of curiosity what are your views on Christianity or God or religion? What do you believe in? I would really like to know. Brian Terry

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  1. […] Our own Matt Hill was one of 24 gay rights activists arrested at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. The story is getting national attention… here’s the Houston Chronical. […]

  2. […] A Lynchburg, VA, based columnist for the American Chronicle wrote a wonderful, but short, column on the arrests of 24 activists and Equality Riders, including myself, at Liberty University yesterday. […]

  3. […] A reader of my blog, Matt Hill Comer, a local NC LGBT activist and student at UNCG, was one of the people arrested at the Soulforce event. He has a first-hand account over at his pad. […]

  4. […] Christians? Are they sure they are Christians? Jesus wouldn’t discriminate against anyone, yet… here are these people who say they are following Him and what are they doing? They are discriminating. I’m not even going to take the time to go through what I have to say on Christ, the Church and discrimination againt gay folk again. You can read all that on the posts about Soulforce and Liberty University here and here. […]

  5. […] As Soulforce’s Equality Riders head to Regent University, the school headed by Evangelist Pat Robertson, they have been warned that the university will not welcome them. This follows the events of Friday, March 10, when 24 activists, including myself, were arrested at the Reverend Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. […]

  6. […] Beth, over at Greensboring.com, gave a quick shout out about my post on the recent arrests of Soulforce participants and Equality Riders at Liberty University. […]

  7. […] This follows yesterday when a barrage of police kept the riders from entering the campus. On Friday, March 10, the 24 (including me) were arrested at the Equality Ride’s first stop at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. […]

  8. […] At the UNCG Student Senate meeting of March 14, 2006, I made the Student Government, Student Body and campus media aware of my participation in the Soulforce Equality Ride event at Liberty University on Friday, March 10, 2006. […]

  9. […] Seven Riders were arrested when attempting to enter campus. This is the third campus in which Riders have been arrested and the fifth campus on the Equality Ride’s tour across the country. Twenty-four activists were arrested at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA) and six at Pat Robertson’s Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA). Lee and Union Universities in Tennessee allowed the Riders onto campus. The tour itself is modeled after the Freedom Rides of the 1960s and seeks to break down religious bigotry and prejudice. While at Lee University, the Equality Ride bus was defaced and later cleaned by Lee students and Riders. […]

  10. […] MTV News finally got out an article on the Soulforce Equality Ride. They were there with us on the first stop at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and they have, like me, been closely following the Soulforce Equality Ride, which should be included in MTV’s upcoming Spring Break special, “MTV News Presents: The Amazing Break”. The MTV News special, according to the MTV website should be shown on the following days: […]

  11. […] The Equality Ride’s next stop is on Monday at Abeline Christian University in Abeline, Texas. According to an article by the ACU Optimist, the Equality Riders are also being welcomed onto the campus, instead of being turned away or arrested like at Liberty, Regent or Oral Roberts Universities. The stop at Abeline will be the seventh stop in the 19-stop tour. […]

  12. […] Here are some photos (aka screenshots… images copyright MTV News) from the MTV News Special on the Equality Ride and the events at Liberty University, when 24 activists were arrested (under the request of the Reverend Jerry Falwell). […]

  13. […] The Equality Ride started in March at Liberty University, a school founded and headed up by the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Twenty-four participants were arrested at Liberty, including me and another Greensboro citizen. […]

  14. […] Received an update late on Tuesday evening regarding the upcoming May 18th court appearances in Lynchburg, VA, for those arrested in the Soulforce Equality Ride action at Liberty University back in March. […]

  15. […] last couple of years. Liberty University was one of the many colleges that was visited. Last year, 24 Equality Ride members were arrested for attempting to discuss GLBT issues with Liberty […]



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