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September 24, 2008

Christian college president denounces Obama effigy

The president of George Fox University denounced the hanging of a cutout of Barack Obama and graffiti aimed at a scholarship program that enrolls mostly minority students.

"We absolutely cannot hate those around us and say we love God," President Robin Baker said to the students today. "It is not possible. Yesterday was not a good example of what it means to follow Jesus."

Noelle Crombie of The Oregonian reports that a campus custodial crew discovered the cutout hung by fishing line from a tree yesterday morning. The cutout was accompanied by the words "Act Six reject." Act Six is a scholarship program that was established two years ago and is aimed at including more low-income and minority students in the George Fox student body.

The Associated Press reports that Baker told students he was "disheartened and outraged."

"It has been my dream to establish a university that more adequately represents the kingdom of God," he said. "This act causes some to question our commitment."

George Fox was founded as a Quaker school and is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. University officials said Wednesday they do not know who hung the effigy, which University spokesman Rob Felton said few people saw before it was taken down.


What a mar on our Christian witness. I am glad Pres. Baker so strongly condemned it. The fact that this would even happen on a Christian campus does not entirely surprise me, but makes me pretty depressed, nonetheless.

See how far we have NOT come. We should all repent.

Yeah, Sara - who "would" do this? It's pretty ugly. I predict that it will get uglier and uglier as the count-frown :( proceeds.

Wow. Prank or hate crime? I suppose they will choose to characterize it as the former, in which case I think it's not enough for the Admin. to just publicly denounce it. The George Fox student body has been disgraced and the students must make amends corporately. I hope the entire student body will offer to do community service or something to redeem this situation.

Of course, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that any of the students at George Fox University did what the president of the Unviersity said that they did.

All that is known is: 1) an effigy of Obama was hung from a tree, with 2) a note attached about a scholarship program at George Fox University.

What if this was in reality placed their by a person who did not get in to George Fox University? Perhaps this person feels that their place was taken by a "minority" who received a scholarship, which they were not eligible for.

What if it was placed there as a "joke" by a person from another univeristy?

What if the local branch of the GOP placed it there (unlikely, but who knows).

The reality is, nobody knows WHO placed it there. However, the principal, the media, and just about everybody else are jumping up and down and condemning the innocent for the crimes of the guilty, who may not even be students at that university.

How is this justice? It sounds more to me like a knee-jerk reaction to something that is wrong than as a quest to establish truth and act justly.

When it comes to these issues of racism, discrimination, and prejudice, many people find it hard to think that these issues go on even on a Christian campus. This extreme example is only a symptom of the real issue that exists: our ignorance and dissonance to the issues that affect not only our Christian brothers and sisters, but our society and world as a whole. We as Christians need to acknowledge these problematic issues that break us apart. We need to "bear one another's burdens" and aim at being counter-cultural. In fact these aren't just issues that we should choose to understand and solve, they need to be an outworking of our faith as Christians. Let us understand this sin by examining ourselves, seeking forgiveness and wisdom from God, then reconciling and understand our brothers and sisters who are different from us, and finally go into the world and solve these issues. Let us endure with one another, knowing that when it all comes down to it - we are one in Christ, we have been saved by the same blood and saving grace, and we have been made by the same creator. We are different members of the same family. God made us different in ethnicity and race, just like he varied our languages at Babel. Now we are faced with celebrating and sometimes dealing with our differences, knowing that it is only God that can give us the strength to do so...amen

I mostly agree with what Jim has said here. But the fact of the matter is, the college NEEDS to make a big deal out of denouncing this. You just have to.

I remember a few years back this happening at my college; by no means a "Christian" college but one founded in the tradition and spirit of the Jesuits, something my dad loved- priests & sisters giving classes. Here we are in the Bronx, NYC and racial slurs were spray painted all over the hallways in a residence hall. The admin. did little and I gave up my belief in organized religion and became a social activist. I formed a group to protest and stand 48 hrs outside demonstrating. Fact was we were in a Jesuit school and in the most diverse city in the world and this happens? My parenst shrugged it off, long used to dealing with racism. There answer was always "it happens, just look the other way", their optimism of a loving society reserved for the day they meet their maker. But these types of acts need to be condemned to assuade outsiders, whatever the case may be, to reflect they have moved beyond racism and foster a loving and creative atmosphere.

Good reporting by Sarah Pulliam. From a biased source of course!!

Don't go getting all dramatic Bethany, we shouldn't ALL repent for this - only the perps should repent... and be booted out of school for a period of time.

From time immemorial college students have done stupid or thoughtless things. Just because this is in the racial category should not blur our perspective on unfortunate behavior. I, myself, would not want my college life projected on a screen for all to view and evaluate.

The students have been punished. Let's not go overboard in our interpretations of its significance. Even if we had a "perfect" society in terms of race and other relations, the behavior of four students at one point in time does not an important statement make. He that is without sin cast the first stone.

The self righteous tone of some comments is more of a problem perhaps.