Back in March, dozens of students representing 25 different Christian colleges and universities filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education for giving federal funding to faith-based schools that discriminate against LGBTQ people.
While Christian schools have every right to set their own rules and values, the government doesn’t have to reward them for it. (Incidentally, the Equality Act currently sitting in the Senate could prevent that from happening, but Republicans likely won’t support the bill unless it exempts Christian schools from the rules everyone else has to play by.)
There’s a knee-jerk response some atheists have to stories like these: Well, they should’ve known all this when they decided to go to those schools! But as the lawsuit makes clear, many of these students didn’t have that choice at all. One woman said her parents didn’t want her to go to college at all, but attending a Christian school like Bob Jones University was the only way she could get their permission. One man said he wanted to leave his school, but “he was too far into his time at school to be able to logically and easily transfer his credits.”
Now the Chicago Tribune‘s Nara Schoenberg has a profile of another plaintiff, Megan Steffen, who attended Moody Bible Institute. Steffen was nearly blocked from getting her own diploma because she’s a lesbian. Not because she’s a lesbian who violated the school’s policies, mind you. Just a lesbian.
As a devout Christian, the hardest thing was being told by students that she had offended God, she said.
“To hear that this God that you’ve believed in all your life does not love and accept you for who you are (makes it) hard not to hate yourself,” she said.
Meanwhile, administrators repeatedly called her into meetings — about 10 in all — and expressed a range of concerns related to her sexual orientation. After she posted a joke on Facebook about the irony of being an out lesbian at Moody in fall 2019, she received a formal warning about her “inappropriate media posts” saying that her behavior was “dangerously close to the probationary level.”
Just to be clear, Moody Bible Institute doesn’t have a problem with gay or lesbian people as long as they remain celibate and basically ashamed of themselves. But because she was a lesbian who seemed proud of it, the school looked the other way while she was harassed and bullied by her classmates. Administrators even piled on themselves. Steffen says in the lawsuit:
Due to her experience at Moody, Megan’s depression and anxiety became very severe. She had panic attacks, she couldn’t get out of bed, had insomnia, and dealt with suicidal thoughts.
“I cannot imagine ever finding myself in as abusive and manipulative of an environment as I did at Moody,” Megan says.
This is why the U.S. government shouldn’t be rewarding these schools. These schools need to decide if LGBTQ people deserve their God’s love or whether they’re more interested in cash. And the government must decide if they really value LGBTQ people the way they claim to; if that means rescinding future funding, so be it.
(Image via Shutterstock. Portions of this article were published earlier. Thanks to Brian for the link)