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UIndy Dialogue Discusses Christianity, Homosexuality

Posted on 02.20.2013

An idea hit senior philosophy and religion Mark Wolfe over the summer of 2012 for a collaboration between Christian ministries students and students affiliated with the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, and Questioning (LBGTQ) movement. That idea became the Faith, Love and Reconciliation panel, which took place Feb. 6.

“I thought about doing this as a justice steward in the Ecumenical Office. The idea was partly inspired by the Chick-fil-A debates in the media over the summer,” Wolfe said. “I’m someone who’s been an ally of the LGBTQ community for a few years now, and I saw the media debates following Chick-fil-A as being harmful on both sides. I thought that by having a panel where both groups came together to talk would help to build relationships in a neutral, understanding environment.”

Wolfe said that organizing the event took a long time because he had wanted to make sure everything would go smoothly.

“These kinds of events are relatively new,” Wolfe said.

Student Cory Untank speaks on the LGBT: Faith, Love and Reconciliation panel which took place Feb. 6. Photo by Cassie Williams.

Chaplain and Assistant Professor of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Programs Lang Brownlee served as the moderator, and the six student panelists took five minutes to tell their stories.

Wolfe said that he enacted rules on the night of the panel to ensure civil discussion. The panel then offered audience members a chance to stand up and ask questions, which spanned topics such as hate crimes, ways to cope with bullying, and how to balance respecting the opinions of others with respecting oneself.

Senior sociology major Josh Ford is the president of UIndy PRIDE. Ford helped Wolfe coordinate the event.

“Initially, I was hesitant just because of the history between homosexuals and the Christian church. But we had been planning this for a long time so the groundwork would ensure a safe environment for the LGBTQ and Christian communities,” Ford said.

The panelists chose to describe only their experiences and how they shaped their views, rather than explicitly stating a particular view or religious affiliation.

“We chose not to label ourselves because we wanted to remain individual and not be seen as our labels only,” Ford said. “Also choosing not to disclose who was what helped to address stereotypes.”

Ford said that he hoped the panel would help to stimulate a conversation on campus and help people to develop their views in a conscientious, responsible way.

According to Wolfe, his hope was not to answer the question of how Christianity should view homosexuality and find a final answer, but to discuss it in a way that was compassionate and hospitable.

After the panel, sophomore psychology major Karlie Lucas said that she was glad to hear their stories.

“I thought they had chosen a really good panel,” Lucas said. “I’m glad people would share their stories and that they are thinking the same thing I do.”


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