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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Did Soul Force Change BYU?

posted by on April 18 at 11:30 AM

I was very skeptical about the value of the Soul Force Equality Ride when it rode into Seattle last week.

But over at Pam’s House Blend, one of the bloggers is floating the theory that Soul Force is directly responsible for the new Brigham Young University policy on homosexuality, which makes it much easier (relatively speaking) to be gay at the Mormon university.

The policy went from this:

Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation… . Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

To this:

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards… . One’s stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity.

(For an explanation of what the change means as a practical matter, click here.)

I’m still not ready to get completely behind Soul Force, and I actually find the official BYU explanation (that the change came after input from BYU students, not Soul Force) to be plausible. But if Soul Force did bring about this change at BYU, then… go Soul Force!

RSS icon Comments

1

Even if Soul Force canít be fully credited with the policy change, their efforts are still worthwhile.

While itís true that arguing against biblical literalism wonít work from a purely analytical standpoint, robots arenít the ones listening to the Soul Force lectures. Theyíre ordinary people whose opinions are swayed by emotions and familiarity with different people. The students at religious institutions donít get out there in the world much, but it looks like Soul Force brings the ďout thereĒ to them. The result: Tolerance grows and bigotry erodes.

Activism can't always produce deliverables like a manufacturing company or a legislator, but, then again, neither does making political commentary on blogs. It's still valuable and deserves to be supported, Eli.

Posted by Dominic Holden | April 18, 2007 12:29 PM
2

if byu (aka, the zoo) is softening its stance of homosexuality, then you can look for the church itself to be more accepting over time. that school doesn't make a move without checking in with temple square.

Posted by Philip Dawdy | April 18, 2007 12:29 PM
3

you aren't allowed to fuck at BYU? i realized it was a religious school, but so it BC, ND, and many others, and they don't have rules like this, do they?

Posted by konstantConsumer | April 18, 2007 1:01 PM
4

It's interesting that this change did not appear in either of Salt Lake's daily newspapers, especially the Deseret Morning News, which is owned by the Mormon Church.

Posted by Tom in SLC | April 18, 2007 1:06 PM
5

There is a broad community of current and past mormons who are working on this very issue. I applaud the effort that Soul Force gave, as it created yet another opportunity for those of us engaged in this ongoing, daily debate to get some traction.

While yes, this change may seem substantive, it's probably not. For example, where they say that individuals must uphold the so-called law of chastity, I'm guessing that two gay individuals still can't openly kiss or even hold hands on campus, unlike straight students.

BYU and the LDS Church will change primarily because this issue is causing them to lose membership. Families are being split and moving on. That will catch up with the Church, which, contrary to lazy reporting, is no longer "the fastest growing religion in America."

Posted by Timothy | April 18, 2007 1:27 PM
6

I'm one of the gay BYU students who wrote a letter to BYU administration and subsequently met with them to get the clarification on Honor Code changed. It's kinda pissing us all off tat Soul Force is taking credit for this change. We had been meeting with administration before they came, and feel that that group's protests were counter-productive to our cause. We wish they would never come back. Instead of presenting a face of reason and willingness to communicate, Soul Force delivered a busful of contradictory, stereotypical weirdoes, several of whom were arrested for breaking the University's policies against on-campus protesting. Their visit to our campus only served to alienate us further from the status quo.

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7

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