SAC Funded Christian Speaker Sparks Protests, Controversy
The controversy of Frank Turek’s visit to Ohio University came to a head Tuesday, as the Christian speaker’s return to discuss his book drew criticism from the LGBTIQQA community.
Turek, who came to OU to discuss his book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” was sponsored by Ratio Christi, a religious student organization that focuses on logical reasoning for the belief in Christian value. The event was funded by the Senate Appropriations Committee, a commission of Student Senate that allocates usage of a portion of student general fees for student organizations. However, the use of the general fee money has drawn controversy due to Turek’s views on gay marriage and homosexuality.
In his 2008 book “Correct, Not Politically Correct; How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone”, Turek speaks out against homosexuality and gay marriage, citing religious reasons. While Turek’s lecture this year did not focus on such issues, his beliefs have still drawn fire.
Open Doors, OU’s LGBTIQQA union, has since protested the SAC funding of Turek’s visit. While an apology was given by SAC to Open Doors, the organization showed up at Turek’s lecture in protest.
Students, community members, allies and members of the LGBT community all gathered outside of the Baker University CenterBallroom prior to Turek’s speech holding a banner that said, “Standing on the Side of Love” while handing out flyers proclaiming that homophobia, not homosexuality is the sin.
Co-Founder of Athens’ chapter of Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Amy Coombs was one of the protestors in attendance. “I’m here as an ally of the LGBT community,” she said. “And we’re here to just send a different message than Frank Turek about accepting gays.”
The message of tolerance as opposed to intolerance was the main point for many of the protestors, rather than hatred towards Turek.
“We are here to promote an idea of tolerance rather than intolerance that has to do with being gay,” said sophomore Will McFarland. “I identify as LGBT and Christian and I really believe in this … and whether he’s here to talk about his hateful message or not, it’s still his idea of his influencing students and community members that I live with and commune with … I don’t think it’s right that he should be speaking.”
Other protestors focused on their perception of Turek’s “hate speech” in a public university.
“People have a tendency to think that homophobic speech isn’t a big deal, that hate speech is no big deal, because they can’t see all the people that it affects,” said senior Kavin Shah. “I think that visibility is a big issue.”
Turek’s actual focus during the lecture did not touch on issues of homosexuality or gay marriage, but on the proof for the existence of the Christian God, the reliability of the Bible and the reality of miracles.
Citing various scientists and theories such as The Big Bang Theory, Turek argued that there can be no creation without a creator and no design without a designer. With the complexity of the universe, Turek said, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist!”
Turek also showed the historical significance of cross referencing the New Testament with historical dates and documents, showing 32 names of biblical figures in non-Christian texts as well as a list of biblical events otherwise documented, later citing archaeological finds as corroboration.
“This is not a once upon a time story, this is no myth” he said. “Archaeology doesn’t prove that everything in the Bible is true, but it shows there is a historical core.”
And while Turek might not have brought up the issue of homosexuality in his speech, students and community members demanded answers during the question and answer session.
Turek stood firm in his beliefs despite the questioning by various protestors and audience members alike, but specified that it was only homosexual behavior that he found sinful, not homosexuality, and thanked the members of Open Doors for their attendance.
“We all have feelings that we ought not act on, I have feelings I ought not act on … but that’s not the only sin in the world … I’m a sinner too, and I have come to the foot of the cross just like everybody else,” he said.
And while Turek’s beliefs remain the same, Open Doors protestors are not discouraged.
“I’ll never change that guy’s mind,” said Shah, “[But] anytime you can get your point across to somebody who stands almost 180 degrees in opposition to you, there’s still hope there for me … I guess I’m here because I don’t give up.”