Gay rights sparks open-air fight
A visit from a traveling evangelism school turns sidewalk into a battleground of ideas.
Issue date: 9/27/06 Section: News
More than 100 people debated homosexuality, a discussion prompted by a religious group known as the Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism. Students came to debate and protest the different views, and some brought homemade signs.
The Milwaukee-based school is doing a two-week tour of college campuses in the northern states.
Jason Storms, director of the school, said college campuses were chosen because they are where learning happens and the exchange of ideas is encouraged. He said it is students who are impressionable.
Members of the school were seen holding signs that read "Homosexuality is a Sin" and "Christ Can Set You Free."
"We love them as people, but we believe the behavior is unacceptable," said Storms. "This is not a message of hate. We just want to say there is hope.
You can find salvation through Christ; he will save you."
Storms also said the group was open to criticism. They understand disagreement and encourage debate.
On the other hand, like Hanna Rice, most students who saw the protest were critical of the School of Evangelism. Rice, who was holding a sign that said "Keep Hate off the SDSU Campus," was not alone. Many students were holding posters that said similar messages.
"They're making (homosexuals) out to be second-class people; and they are discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation," said Catherine Grandorff, an English and Spanish freshman.
Philosophy professor Dennis Bielfeldt said the students' reaction to make the protest into a debate did not surprise him.
"The country has made homosexuality into a civil rights issue and students want to defend that; but we don't realize there is a deeper issue," he said.
"In general, we must have discussion and conversation, and debate should be encouraged. Even on a sensitive subject such as this, we must err on the side of open debate."
The protest on campus comes with the November election looming in the near future. Amendment C is in question to Article XXI of the Constitution of the state of South Dakota relating to the definition of marriage. If voted to pass during the state elections on Nov. 7, the new section will read, "Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in South Dakota."