Welcome to Taylor University, where in Christian love we invite an outspoken homophobe to nurture our students’ spirituality

The morning’s chapel services at Taylor University, my alma mater, kicked off Spiritual Renewal Week. This means a special speaker for the week, a series of chapel services, presentations and special events aimed at fostering spiritual growth and development.

heart broken

Today I see posted on the university’s chapel calendar the guest speaker for the event: Dr. Erik Thoennes, La Mirada CA. Never heard of him. I google that exact phrase “Dr. Erik Thoennes, La Mirada CA” and my heart sinks. The very first listing that pops up is titled:

Petition | Apologize for Homophobic, Transphobic, and Racist Rant …
A video clip is attached, as well as a petition bearing the names of over 700 signatories calling on Thoennes to apologize for statements characterized as “deeply harmful,” “homophobic, transphobic and racist” made during a panel presentation to Biola University students.

A video clip is attached, as well as a petition bearing the names of over 700 signatories calling on Thoennes to apologize for statements characterized as “deeply harmful,” “homophobic, transphobic and racist” made during a panel presentation to Biola University students.

Theonnes serves as Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies and Chair, Biblical & Theological Studies Theology Department at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology.

Biola alumnus Jos Charles outlines his concerns in an open letter to Theonnes and university administration. He says,

i love hate you copy

“Perhaps I take this for granted, but I assume faith communities agree LGBTQ people should not live under fear of violence. Dr. Thoennes’ comments however contribute to, enable, and even encourage these sorts of violence. In the sexuality forum, queer students heard their desires and struggles publically (sic) likened to racism and mocked as a joke. Because of such bullying, LGBTQ Christians face some of the highest rates of suicide and homelessness in the country. Dr. Thoennes’ comments institutionally encourage attacks—whether it’s through a half-joking slur or physical assault. Dr. Thoennes cheered on our oppression. He took the bully’s side.”

This the individual invited to address the Taylor student body with an eye to spiritual development. This the level of sensitivity and respect Taylor University accords LGBT students, alumni, (shall I spell it out?) donors, potential donors and their allies.

As I say, my heart sinks.