leadership fail

Harding University Prez David Burks Won’t Name E-Zine’s Website Because Even The URL ‘Is Offensive’

Harding University is being very upfront about blocking on-campus computers from accessing the website of HU Queer Press, which is hosting an e-zine published anonymous by gay students telling stories about how oppressive their college experience has been. (Claims like being pressured toward reparative therapy, for one.) Yesterday David B. Burks, president of the private Arkansas Christian school (which also prohibits students from drinking alcohol even if they’re 21+, and staying out late) addressed the scandal:
“We are not trying to control your thinking on this matter, but it was important for us to block the website because of what it says about Harding, who we are, and what we believe.” Truth hurts, you mean?

“I personally found the website to be offensive and degrading,” says Burks of the page that exposes the school’s institutional homophobia. “I won’t even publicly the speak the web address, not because I think I can keep it from you, but because the address itself is offensive to me.” You can predict where his speech goes from here, pointing to the school’s student handbook: “Sexual immorality of any form will result in suspension from the university.” But that doesn’t mean it’s just gay sex! It’s just that Harding believes sexual activity must be reserved for people in a marriage. Conveniently, Arkansas doesn’t let gays get married; thus, any gay sex at the school will get you kicked out.

Nowhere does Burks address the actual allegations made in HU Queer Press‘ “The State of The Gay,” but that’s for another day. For now, I think you’ve got enough meat to go after Burks and his Bible-based beliefs.

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  • justiceontherocks

    I personally find the bigotry of this man to be offensive and degrading.

    And, no, of course they aren’t trying to control anyone’s thinking. They’re just selecting which “facts” people can think about.

    Why, oh why, are the lives of young people entrusted to such fools?

  • Dan Glenn

    I’m not surprised by the President’s words or action to block the site, but in doing so he blocks other students which hold to his position from countering the statements being made. He (and the university) certainly has the right to hold his beliefs (freedom of religion) as do the students the freedom to attend another university. Students will find other venues to access the site.

  • Jim Hlavac

    What’s hysterical is now, not only does every student on campus know about the website, due to the publicity, and the more to come, but poor Harding will now spend endless days debating the matter. The few gay students have simply roiled that place up, and good for them. Now, every person there will have to reexamine their conscience — and think of the gay folks they know – and balance that against the teachings of this university. And the logical disconnect can’t stand for long. That’s how we got this far — reality always trumps belief in the end.

    And it’s good that gay folks want to get a religious based education. In fact, in order to truly achieve equality we’re going to have to convince the fundamentalists to like us, get a grip, deal with us, and put forth something more solid than “Because we said so.” We gay folks are much discussed in religious circles, and more and more religious thinkers are looking at the disconnect between the observable reality and their faith.

  • Jeffree

    It’s that whole “law of unintended consequences” again: try to suppress or ban a book/play/movie, or idea, etc., and suddenly people pay more attention to it than it would have had on its own.

    To use a Biblical term, the e-zine is now “forbiddèn frùit.”

  • Shannon1981

    This man is an idiot. And I find him to be offensive and degrading. I can only hope the gay kids at Harding get the hell outta there. Four years in that environment can’t be good in any way, shape, or form.

  • Cam

    The religious types sure have that phony victimology act down pat.

  • Francis

    Mr. Burks further proves how religious fundamentalists cannot deal with people who have different views than them and are actually enlightened, use their minds and look for education beyond clobber messages in the Bible. So instead, they stifle debate, play victim, and call their detractors immoral, deviant, and whatever else they can think of, to justify their bigotry and try to brainwash others to believe the way they do. He is a terrible person.

  • Jeffree

    @DavidEhrenstein: No comment? Just flogging your blog? Tacky.

  • michael

    This is a small, way right leaning, private “Christian” college located in the “Bible Belt” with a written and practiced policy unfavorable to gay lifestyle, and at $24,000/year, is not cheap. With this knowledge, where is the attraction for gay students to even consider enrolling in this place? If you do not like getting bitten by snakes, stay away from snakes.

  • Chris

    @michael: Some people have no choice but to go here, have no place to turn but here, etc. Learn sociology and then come back and we will talk!

  • Jeffree

    @Michael: Not everyone gets to choose which college they attend, when the parents are paying for it. (I’ve said more about that on 2 other threads on similar topics). Many fundie parents will ONLY allow their kids to go to a Christan school.

    You can be home-schooled through HS, but no one will give you a univ. diploma when your parents are also your professors !

    And some people do go to Christian colleges that are less fundamentalist than Harding. No matter which univ. you attend, there will be other LGB students and staff, no matter how closeted they are.

  • justiceontherocks

    @michael: Chris is right about this. Not many 18 year olds have a lot of independence. The “if you don’t like it don’t go there” argument works for adults, not college kids.

  • IonMusic

    Religion has done a great deal of injustice throughout the world and whats most damning is that it’s followers want to filter what are FACTUAL events of religion…from crusades, witch hunts, genocide, perverse actions of priests and higher ups, child molestation, slavery, covering up slavery, and today…it’s promoting youth suicide. I was watching an Anderson Cooper segment on bullying where he took to task a Church leader who said that if these gay kids would choose to change their lifestyles they would be met with less resent. THAT’S church for you. They’ll divide the human population to create friction amongst us all in the name of their religion. You wonder why there’s so much division in this world? take religion out of it and you’ve got far more harmony. No matter how much it’s followers want to spin it for you to believe they are noble.

  • Kyle L.

    As Ghandi beautifully said, it’s the followers of Christ who are the BIGGEST problem. They ought to read and grasp what the are supposed to be preaching, but their pompous self serving mentality can’t enable them to see right from wrong. All they care of is to preach, preach, preach and tell you how much better they are for labeling themselves “Christian.” And they wonder why so many are distancing themselves from the institution? You don’t need religion in your heart, to have a heart folks. Remember that next time you’re pressured to be part of Christinaity by those around you.

  • Oprah

    Kyle L, you may think whatever Ghandi says is ‘beautiful’, but did you know that Hindhu-ism in which Ghandi practiced worship cows as their God?Is that beautiful, ya think?

  • gregger

    @Oprah: did you even bloody well read what Kyle L posted or did you just see Ghandi and have that crap go through your head? It’s dead on with many Christians. I get street corner proselytizers, subway proselytizers, even in my building the “literature” shoved under my door from hate groups like Tony Alamo and Jo’s Witnesses. All of them claiming that we are “wicked and have turned away from God.” When in fact most people, that I know, capable of rational thought are turning away from hate based ministry and the bigotry and smugness that many church leaders throw out to the masses.

    It was not an attack on Christianity but what people pervert it into.

    BTW, the followers of Hinduism do not “worship cows as their god” the cow is revered as a giver of food and symbol of life. It is taboo to kill a cow, eat a cow, use cow leather or any other by-products. If you are going to mock a religion to try to make your religion seem better you might want to re-think it and you might want to check your “facts” out for integrity.

  • Dan Glenn

    To say that the students have no choice is disempowering and places them in the weaker position of a ‘victim’. We all have choices to make. Are lives are the sum of a series of choices we make. They certainly can refuse to attend a college that treats them as sinners and perverts, and live with the consequences of that decision. Or, they can make a conscious choice to remain in the closet and attended classes (Knowing that it is only four or six years of their life and that no matter how bad it gets it was their choice to attend.), and live with the consequences of that decision. I’m not heartless in this, but the last thing these students need to be told is that they have no personal power in their lives. To say that these students don’t have a choice is debilitating. This generation has more opportunities as queerfolk than any other before them. They stand on the shoulders of giants; people who have suffered much more than they. They need to be empowered; to have pride and not be told they have no choice; that they are victims. As I see it (based on the video), the university has no problem with them being out queers as long as they don’t have sex, but that is no different than the heterosexual students, so what’s the beef?

  • Dan Glenn

    @Dan Glenn: Sorry, ‘Are’ lives…s/b ‘Our’ lives…

  • Danny

    Hopefully the site owners make the stories easily printable so it can still be distributed to students on campus by printing it off on non-university computers.

  • Rob

    Who would want to go to an “institution” like this? Another bizarre, immature world view based on the bible.

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