At the buckle of the Bible belt, Bob Jones University brings shame to Christians and shows us what not to do when it comes to dealing with activist groups.
Last Thursday, my classmates and I attended a workshop the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (which owns the Washington Journalism Center) held for college and university administrators who may have a visit from this year's Soulforce Equality Ride.
Soulforce's objective is "freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance."
The point of the panel discussion: do not let the media coverage of your school's encounter with Equality Ride activists appear as religiously oppressive.
Equality Ride has met its match in BJU though. This university sees its actions as pious and unerring. But the bigger question is what will the world see?
The Soulforce Equality Ride started last year at the CCCU headquarters and to many Christians' horror, the CCCU initiated its proceedings with Equality Ride. Michelle Boorstein recorded the event in her article, "A Drive for Understanding."
The meeting was a bit awkward. One side brought the other chocolates. People wore big name tags and fussed over one another, saying "Hi" effusively and smiling broadly. Clumsy jokes were made -- but everyone laughed. There were long silences.
The discomfort was understandable. Eight officials from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, which represents 133 "Christ-centered" schools that forbid homosexual behavior, were mingling with 35 young gay men and lesbians in the sunny conference room of a Northwest Washington church -- to plan, of all things, a road trip.
I can see how many would be confused by this, but my short involvement in the media world has helped me to understand how the story is presented when groups like these are prevented from entering the private property of some conservative Christian colleges.
Here's how it breaks down: activists are victims because of their lifestyle choice (not let into private schools or led off in handcuffs) and students are locked inside and afraid.
Mary Wilson, a freshman at Bob Jones, said university officials told students not to interact with the gay rights group, but if they should encounter any members to act kindly and call school officials.
"It's a little bit intimidating to think people want to get on our campus," said Wilson, whose mother, Barbara, stood among the protesters outside the gate.
Protesters shouted and read Bible passages as about 30 members of the group Soulforce stood silently near the main gate of Bob Jones University.
About a half dozen police looked on while the protesters waved signs, including one that read "Sodomy is sin."
So, the protesters are silent while they are ridiculed by the counter-protesters. In a way Christian zeal sometimes goes, they hated others while the mandate is to love.
Following the arrests, university officials provided the Soulforce members with boxed lunches.
That's really the only fair thing we've seen them do to the activist group.
I was ashamed and appalled by the reports. Even though I am a Christian, I would have stood with Soulforce - not as an activist but as a person.
How can we call ourselves Christians, ones who believe God has impressed into every human life since Adam's creation while we refrain from giving other humans their "unalienable rights"?
So, Soulforce leaves another Christian college with its mission accomplished, the sterotype of conservative Christians hating homosexuals is reinforced.
At least, that's what the world will see.
Final Score: 1 Soulforce, BJU 0 - Game Over