Christianity and LGBTQ addressed by students

Olivia Doak

A man protesting against the LGBTQ community in the name of Christianity sparked outrage and anger on campus grounds. In response, the first-year honors classes put on a movie and discussion Tuesday, Nov. 20th to better understand these issues and how they relate to Christianity.

A common belief in our society is that Christianity and gay rights are at odds. However, this divide hurts both parties and can have terrible consequences.

The movie was called “For The Bible Tells Me So” and addresses this conflict. Centered around the argument that the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, the film disagrees, saying it is not.

The movie tells the story of five gay individuals and explains how their sexuality has impacted their lives. It details the trauma gay people go through when they face this discrimination and how it hurts the family as well.

The reaction to the movie was emotional. First-year Paige Sheppard said, “I found myself in tears at a few moments” because of the hardships many of the people in the story went through.

Another first-year, Jeff Flinchem, said “It was tough to watch and upsetting,” particularly when a queer girl killed herself because her mother refused to accept her sexuality and the unimaginable guilt and sorrow the mother felt because of it.

Both students said that seeing these emotional stories is necessary in developing empathy and understanding other people’s perspectives.

“I think it’s important to talk about these issues because a lot of people who don’t talk about them don’t understand other people’s perspectives.” Flinchem said.

According to Sheppard, “People have to talk to each other and understand where the other side is coming from to empathize with each other.”

The variety of religions and backgrounds in the room brought different perspectives to the discussion.

Sheppard is an atheist and states that her beliefs come from “things that are physical. I believe in people and I believe in the Earth, and I believe that we should use our limited and precious time for the benefit of others and to make this place a loving place for all because we’re all equal.”

Flinchem, who is Catholic, shared Sheppard’s belief in equality and acceptance for all people. “I believe that my Christianity and my belief in gay rights can coexist.”

The event was put on by Dr. Jason Mahn, Associate Professor of Religion and Director of the Presidential Center of Faith and Learning here at Augustana. He had heard students’ recent discontentment surrounding gay rights and decided to take action.

“My fear is that when there are incidents like this on campus that some people might assume that this is christianity verses queer love and that all christians are on one side and that all gay folks are on the other side, which isn’t at all true,” Mahn said.

His overall goal for the event was that “people were moved by those stories and developed empathy.”

“I really appreciate that we have a community at Augustana where we talk about these things and make and effort to accept other people’s beliefs and understand them,” Flinchem said.