“Gay on God’s Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities” by Jonathan S. Coley— God and the Dean Are Watching You

Coley, Jonathan S. “Gay on God’s Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities”, The University of North Carolina Press, 2018.

God and the Dean Are Watching You

Amos Lassen

While we are all aware of the tremendous progress made by the LGBT movement in the United States, LGBT people continue to face discrimination in faith communities. In “Gay on God’s Campus”, sociologist Jonathan S. Coley documents why and how student activists mobilize for greater inclusion at Christian colleges and universities. Through interviews with student activists at many Christian institutions of higher learning, Coley shows that students who are initially drawn to activism because of their own political, religious, or LGBT identities, are forming direct action groups in order to transform university policies, educational groups have opened up campus dialogue, and solidarity groups now facilitate their members’ personal growth. These LGBT activists use these skills and values after graduation in subsequent political campaigns, careers, and family lives, giving them the potential to become change agents in their faith communities for years to come. What Coley’s has found gives us insight into a new frontier of LGBT activism and this activism challenges “prevailing wisdom about the characteristics of activists, the purpose of activist groups, and ultimately the nature of activism itself.”

Coley has done incredible research to rebut “the false-dichotomy portrayal of Christian groups as universally situated in opposition to LGBT culture.” His emphasis on the intersection of religious identity and LGBT activism satisfies an important place in social movements and their fields. Of course it is good to know that there is activism on these campuses and it is more important for those who wish to be activists know that are many ways to be so. Coley deftly paints a portrait of LGBT advocacy on Christian college campuses and clearly demonstrates how there are multiple ways to be an activist.”

I remember all to well that just several years ago at Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, several activists were expelled for setting up a Gay Student Association and they were actually aided by two faculty members. There was a similar incident at Ouachita Baptist University, the Alma Mater of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary.

It is also important to remember that Yeshiva University, a Jewish institution has had trouble in the past as have several Catholic Colleges but things are changing quickly. We must look at the past in order to deal with the present. This is a book that has cried out to be published and now that it has been, let’s hope for more like it.

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