SAC Funds Controversial Christian Speaker with Anti-Gay Marriage Views
SAC is a commission of Student Senate that uses a portion of student general tuition to fund student organizations. Any student organization program that uses university funding is voted on by SAC’s general assembly. Ratio Christi, a religious student organization that focuses on logical reasoning for the belief in Christian values, organized to have Frank Turek speak at OU on Tuesday, Feb. 28. Turek will be speaking about his book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” discussing reasons “why Christianity is the most reasonable worldview,” according to Turek’s seminar website.
Open Doors initially set out to protest Turek’s speech because of his 2008 book “Correct, Not Politically Correct; How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone.” Open Doors did not support SAC’s allocating of their tuition money to fund a controversial speaker.
Since then, SAC has apologized to Open Doors, but are sticking to their decision to fund Turek’s seminar.
“We were really confused and kind of pissed off,” said Open Doors co-chair, Michael Pistrui, after learning about SAC’s decision to fund the seminar. “We decided to do our research first.”
Pistrui said when Open Doors brought Turek’s anti-same-sex marriage views to SAC’s attention, “they were really apologetic, which we appreciated. They came to explain it to us.”
Pistrui’s understanding is that Ratio Christi “did not express Frank Turek’s outspoken ways when it comes to LGBT issues.”
“They basically lied to SAC,” said Pistrui. Pistrui added that Open Doors was told SAC may be reformatting the interviewing process, so they are aware of these issues in the future.
“It was interesting because it opened up a much needed dialogue amongst SAC,” Pistrui added.
“We are a free speech campus,” said SAC Commissioner, Tina Kongkeo. “We are not trying to shun any group on campus.” Tongkeo went on to say it was not SAC’s intention to fund a speaker that would try to sway opinion negatively, but that Turek will be here to discuss a religious topic.
‘This is the first time SAC was met with opposition [in this way],” said Kongkeo. “We have funded LGBT speakers to come here, and we don’t have people coming out against that. We’re not [going to] please everyone on campus.”
“It is unfortunate that this problem has arisen,” said SAC Treasurer Chris Wimsatt. “We can’t decide to de-fund it after we already decided to fund it.” Since SAC made the decision to fund Turek’s seminar mid-fall quarter, Wimsatt said the effort to protest the matter was, “too little, too late.”
“Our group hosted a similar presentation by Dr. Turek last year, and the event was very well received,” said Ratio Christi President, Joshua Welch. “If the gay and lesbian groups on campus want to protest his coming, that is up to them. We certainly respect their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and we hope that they respect our rights, as well.”
Welch added that Dr. Turek was not asked to speak about his book regarding anti-gay-marriage sentiments. “ Instead, we have asked him to speak on his book, ‘I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,’ and we hope that many will attend his challenging lecture and discussion,” he said.
Open Doors members have said they will be attending the seminar, “as a form of silent protest,” said Pistrui.
“We believe that many in the university community mischaracterize Christianity as an irrational belief, and our goal in hosting Dr. Turek is to present an alternative view on this issue,” said Welch. “Such a discussion is an essential part of the exchange of ideas that occurs on a college campus and embodies the values of OU as set forth in the five Cs.”
Welch went on, “SAC’s decision to fund our event demonstrates that the SAC funding committee feels that the event will serve to advance the free exchange of ideas at Ohio University.”