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October 2, 2008

Four students suspended at George Fox over Obama stunt

NEWBERG, Ore. - Four students at George Fox University confessed to hanging an effigy of Sen. Barack Obama from a tree on campus and were suspended for up to a year, school officials announced Tuesday.

The students names were not released.

Other sanctions include community service and multicultural education, which must be completed before the students can return to campus, said Brad Lau, vice president of student life.

The students were singled out during a campus investigation late last week as those responsible for hanging a life-size cardboard cutout from a tree on campus with a sign saying "Act Six reject."

Act Six is a scholarship and leadership program for Portland students, many of whom are minorities.

"These students were very sorry and deeply grieved by the impact of this event," Lau said. "Regardless of their intentions, the image of a black man hanging from a tree is one of the most hurtful racist symbols of our history."

Lau declined to give any details about the investigation or the possible motivation of the four students.

The 3,355-student Christian university, which was founded by Quaker pioneers in 1891, stopped short of dismissing the students permanently. The campus is "a redemptive community, and we allow for the possibility of change," Lau said.

The FBI is continuing its investigation into possible civil rights violations, including whether the display intimidated minority students in exercising their federal rights, FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said.

Vanessa Wilkins, a 19-year-old sophomore in the Act Six program, said she is satisfied with the level of punishment of the four students. "I don't think they knew how far it would go," she said. "They didn't understand the repercussions of their actions. I don't believe the students thought this all the way through."

Related Elsewhere: Christian college president denounces Obama effigy

Comments

"Stunt"!? Using that term shows an incredible lack of understanding of the seriousness of this incident. When the FBI gets involved, it's much more than a stunt.

Christianity Today has a responsibility to properly inform the Christian reading public. To use a word like "stunt" shows a significant insensitivity and ignorance of the deep emotional history and symbolic power of lynching. Christians need to take a strong stand against evil actions and injustices. The weak response of George Fox University (can anyone name one non-Christian school that would not have expelled these students?) and the subsequent diluting of the sinful nature of the student's actions reveals why many non-white Christians are fed up with American evangelicalism.

These students might never return to Fox. In essence, they were "expelled," with the one exception that they themselves pursue internal change (repentance) and serve others over time (one year). This is what true justice is all about when grounded in grace

I am dismayed that Christianity Today would take this ill advised and unjust act so lightly. No matter how aware or unaware the students were of their actions, to call this act of racial injustice and hatred a "stunt" is perhaps the deepest slap in the face for the efforts of civil rights advocates and Christians from all areas of ministry who are seeking racial reconciliation with brothers and sisters of all races and cultures in order to point to Jesus' intentions for the world. Christianity Today ought to know better and ought to issue a formal apology for making light of a deeply painful and hateful crime. I am disappointed. Completely disappointed in CT.

Our choice of words is not neutral. The tongue has the power of life and death. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The choice to describe this act of racial violence and historically-rooted hatred as a "stunt" speaks volumes about those who were complicit in that decision. The incredible disappointment and anger I feel about the George Fox situation has only been magnified by the weak, insensitive and ignorant evangelical response. If followers of Jesus, the church, and "Christian" organizations are interested in bringing about the difficult yet redemptive work of racial reconciliation, we must realize that grace does not excuse injustice....and words matter.

I agree with the writers who are just as incensed over CT's characterization of a symbolic lynching of Obama as a "stunt" as the outrageous act itself. Had the students targeted the new Israeli Prime Minister, would CT have labeled their actions a "stunt"????

We evangelicals always seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot: stung by the steady rise of militant atheism on the one hand, we continue to give our opponents ammunition with which to shoot at us on the other!!


Since when do Christians call hate crimes "stunts"? Is this 1950? God help us, we are truly the blind leading the blind.

Ok people. I just finished a BA at a local "Christian" university. The first thing that may shock you is that traditional students at a "Christian" university are just as stupid and traditional students at a public university. I would be willing to bet that of the four that did the effigy none of them even thought for a moment they were committing a hate crime. Lets face it the majority of 18 year olds are not in school because they are mature but because its either expected or they have nothing else to do. And honestly unless you assault another how can you have a hate crime? And actually isn't any crime against another in essence a hate crime if it incurs violence? I am white and I think that if another white beat me silly with a bat its a hate crime! If we place everyone in jail for burning an effigy every time there was a political gathering people would be charged with hate crimes.

Actually Dave I think you have it wrong. Physical assault is physical assault. But to make something a hate crime instead of a standard crime there need to be intimidation and the creation of fear in a community. If a black student was beaten, as reprehensible as that would have been, that would not necessarily have been a hate crime because it may not have been racially motivated. This was clearly racially motivated, it was designed to intimidate minority students at the campus. That is why this was a hate crime.

This is an article written by a person writing for a religion news service not for CT. It is journalism, not religious writing. The word stunt is in the title of the article and we don't know who made up the title, CT or the journalist. Anyway, I'm tired of this hate crime baloney. An effigy buring has been used in political marches, meetings, etc.for centuries. It's better getting their politics out this way than actually killing the opponent as assasins have done. Obama was the picture, not the minorities on campus if there are any because Quakers are usually white. Since it was Obama, it was political. I wonder if an effigy of McCain would have been considered a hate crime. I suspect not. These juvenile adults were stupid and that year they are losing will sure make a better impression on them than putting them in jail. Jail will just enforce and encourage hate against the government, the law, and for sure really against minorities. They have gotten the point that there is no free political speech and at the least there is a better way to make their point by using their heads. A lesson well taught. Personally, a hate crime is men raping and killing women because subconciously they do hate women and it's their way of getting even at women. The beating up of elderly people is really another hate crime. Have you noticed that it's always elderly people who can afford to live reasonally well while living alone that the person goes after. The worst thing, my two examples of hate crimes happen day in and day out and the all caring hate crimes law people don't care about this or the average victim involved in these crimes. That proves to me that all this protesting is all about politics, baby, just as the people marching in the against war carrying and burning their effigies, they don't care about our soldiers, they're just into their politics. If they really cared about our soldiers these effigy marchers would yell at the people who are fighting our soldiers not our soldiers who are keeping at bay from us these murderers which is what terrorists really are, they're not revolutionaries. I don't like any name calling or hanging anything whether it's directed at me or you but I sure won't put you in jail for it. Now, showing your hate through physically attacking me for what I say, that I'll put you in jail for. People of all ages but especially the young do stupid things and for stupid things that don't involve physical contact, you don't deserve your whole life destroyed. We all do stupid things but hopefully we feel the guilt and grow up. And a Quaker college that believes in no physical anything is not going to put someone in jail for political effigy. They very much are the original peacemakers and political activists. And gee, the FBI investigates a lot of stuff but that doesn't mean it's truely criminal. At least the college did do something. They didn't hide it under the rug like a lot of college rapes and drug and alcohol stuff is. Let's put this into perpective until these same juvenile adults repeat the "hate crime". The minorities will graduate on time while the stupids won't and the minorities didn't have to do anything to get the stupids punished. The college did come through and the minorities should feel great about that. Many a girl raped in college can't say that.

What they did was a political statement NOT a "hate crime". I think that the college and the FBI have made a big deal out of nothing. Look out here comes the thought police!! Clearly the college is not for "higher learning" but for conformity and political correctness! Obama's run for the Presidency is what it was about not his race. But concerning his race, he is only half black and his own statements about white people are more of a "hate crime". Those who want to make more of it than it was need to get a life.

Len Hart,

You can not be serious. Do you know anything about American history?! Lynching is a horrible blight on American history. It was used (sometimes by so-called Christians) to invoke violence, fear and hatred. There is nothing neutral about hanging a black man in effigy. Anna, please note that this was not burning someone in effigy (which also has no place on a Christian campus), but hanging someone in effigy (which has a completely different social and historical connotation).

Also, please do not betray your ignorance by stating that Obama is half black therefore this is not a racial incident. Again, reflect on American history and what defined a black person. Anna and Len Hart's comments again betray why so many non-white evangelicals are fed up with white American evangelicalism.

Are we surprised at this "stunt"? What do we expect when McCain's campaign all along has set the stage for this. Today in Florida, did not someone in the audience shout "kill him" when Palin was attacking Obama? Yet, the crowd cheered as Palin a " self confessed born-again,tongue speaking,pro-life christian,patriotic citizen and number one law custodian of the state of Alaska continued to entertain her partisan crowd.I wonder what is pro-life, when your audience shouts "kill him". How distasteful!

Stunt or no stunt, the expulsion was justified. Dare I suggest that the four students should also seek psychiatric counselling. Time after time, research and homicidal investigations have shown that murderers,killers,serial killers before they actually committed any murder, there actions started with innocuous thoughts, which when repeated overtime was carried out on inanimate objects before they got emboldened to the point that it meant nothing to them killing a life breathing person.

If the media were really so "liberal" wouldn't this have been covered in the press? Where is Sean Hannity's America: True and Balance here???? It is such a lie to frame all news which would benefit Obama as liberal... Here is a classic example that not all anti-white news hits the forefront in a "conspiracy" to cover for a liberal bias.

News is just news and this kind of news is almost always buried because it makes the case that there is still racist behavior throughout our beloved country.

Apparently, some people cannot read.

The report did NOT say that that students burned an effigy of Obama, like some posters are debating. If the students had done that, I could see how they might have been making a political statement like various candidate effigy-burnings through out history.

The report did say that they HUNG, from a tree, a life-sized Obama cut out with an "Act Six Reject" sign posted on it. The combination of the hanging from a tree and the sign have obvious racial overtones. Anybody heard of the Jena Six? Anybody read a little U.S. History lately?

For those whites reading this who still think that this wasn't a hate crime, ask a black person how they would interpret this. And while you are arguing with them that it isn't a hate crime, ask yourself why you, the white person, get to define what a hate crime is and isn't? If you don't personally know any black people to ask, perhaps you should ask yourself some other questions.

PS - I'm a white guy, just to let you know.

And I totally agree with Mike Raleigh NC, if there were a vast liberal-media conspiracy, they would be eating this up right now...

Oh please, people. We don't know the details of these students. Are they in the klan, or nazis, the indication is that they are students and pissed at the favortism that minorities are apparrantly getting at the college. My use of burning effigies was used to point out that a hanging picture is not on the same level as a burning effigy or even a poster effigy used in todays marches etc. And actually what is being said with the tone of what is being said in the comments is more "hate" material than what the students did and I'm assuming you people are grown adults and should be past your hate expressions. And I didn't say Obama is half black and half white. I could care less since my friends are a heck of lot darker than he is. My friends actually say worst about whites but that isn't considered "hate" crimes. It's all done in joking according to my friends. Anyway, the history of slavery in this country wasn't any worst than slavery in any other country. And, we had a civil war over it with the whites bringing about the end of slavery. Can you say that about other countries, many who treat their citizens like slaves right in this day and age. My point, was put the incident in perspective until it is proven that what they've done deserves jail time and deserves your hate towards these students. Like I said, the college took care of the situation literally immediately instead of letting it boil. Maybe that's what you guys are really pissed about. You wanted the incident to boil into a real "hate" crime that you could point at. Why are you really on a Christian comment site?

To ANNA.

Some of us are in a Christian comment site because we need to clean the house before we clean the outside.Remember, "it is not what goes in that corrupts the body but what comes out of it".Freely have we been given and freely should we give, do not question others for being in here,we need to be tolerant of others at all times.

Well, fonzi, you said exactly the point I wanted everybody to get, although I didn't get the cleaning house sentence. As a Christian I am happy with the house I'm in because I'm in the house of Jesus Christ. The whole of Christianity is don't point fingers less you want fingers pointed at you. Hate of the sinner is wrong, and some people on this site forget that, you can tell that by the way they word their sentences and the tone of their words. Everything in life has to be put into perspective, some people on this site just seem to be angry at the world and not just the situation being talked about. This site has always been about Jesus Christ and how he would look at and handle a situation and the discussions as to how people think a situation and people should be handled according to Jesus Christ. And, yes, there are many answers to a situation. Lately, I find more nastiness being spilled out. It sounds more like humanists (secularists) people on this site than Christians. I'm glad actually to have a chance to answer these angry people and perhaps they might realize what Jesus Christ really is all about. I was angry with everyone and eveything too until He found me. You may not realize you are very angry with someone or something and hopefully what I'm saying will make you stop, listen to Jesus and He will calm you. Than you will be able to comment, comment, comment all you want and people will actually listen to what you are saying instead of saying "Yikes, I'm backing away from this one.Too angry for me to converse with or to listen to." Okay, guys, that's all I'm saying. Keep on commenting. Everybody's point of view is extremely interesting and that is the point of this site.

Well, fonzi, you said exactly the point I wanted everybody to get, although I didn't get the cleaning house sentence. As a Christian I am happy with the house I'm in because I'm in the house of Jesus Christ. The whole of Christianity is don't point fingers less you want fingers pointed at you. Hate of the sinner is wrong, and some people on this site forget that, you can tell that by the way they word their sentences and the tone of their words. Everything in life has to be put into perspective, some people on this site just seem to be angry at the world and not just the situation being talked about. This site has always been about Jesus Christ and how he would look at and handle a situation and the discussions as to how people think a situation and people should be handled according to Jesus Christ. And, yes, there are many answers to a situation. Lately, I find more nastiness being spilled out. It sounds more like humanists (secularists) people on this site than Christians. I'm glad actually to have a chance to answer these angry people and perhaps they might realize what Jesus Christ really is all about. I was angry with everyone and eveything too until He found me. You may not realize you are very angry with someone or something and hopefully what I'm saying will make you stop, listen to Jesus and He will calm you. Than you will be able to comment, comment, comment all you want and people will actually listen to what you are saying instead of saying "Yikes, I'm backing away from this one.Too angry for me to converse with or to listen to." Okay, guys, that's all I'm saying. Keep on commenting. Everybody's point of view is extremely interesting and that is the point of this site.

They should investigate whether these students have any ties to the Obama campaign, as this is exactly the kind of stunt they would pull to gain sympathy. I can't believe the picture of the girl crying over this, give me a friggin' break.

The hanging in effigy was a hate crime reminiscent of the Jim Crow south. We have been considering George Fox U. for my son, but realizing that if my son were to attend the University, he would be on campus with the very students who perpetrated this crime, we have eliminated George Fox as a possibility.