This last week, the Fargo Baptist’s Church’s “Faith for Life” quarterly publication appeared in my campus PO box for the third or fourth time since I’ve been attending Concordia. Normally I don’t read it, but this time one of the article titles on the cover caught my eye. The title read “The Bible and Sex” and, like any curious college student, my interest was piqued.
I will admit to not being a religion person; however, I enjoy the messages and values most religions uphold. Immediately when I turned to page 12, I was inundated with section headers like “Adultery,” “Pornography,” “Polygamy,” and finally my eyes stopped on “Sodomy.”
Just in case I didn’t know what sodomy was, the words “homosexuality and lesbianism” was printed underneath. As an openly gay student, I was eager to see what the article had to say about this subject and I was very disappointed and offended with what I read. If you are familiar with books from the Bible like Leviticus and Kings, you can imagine what passages they had pulled to reference. Homosexuality was condemned as a sin and as an ungodly form of idolatry. Words were wrapped around my sexuality like death, abomination, and blood. I was revolted.
Angered, I went to the campus post office to politely request to never receive this publication again. I had assumed the campus had subscribed to this newspaper and in being a student I had been shooed in on this subscription. To my surprise, I was informed that the college has nothing to do with it. I was told that under legal federal postal laws, the college had to deliver these to the students. I checked the address on the paper and the recipient’s name read “Concordia College Student.” I was told it was comparable to when a letter is sent to my house mailed to “Current Resident.” Because of this, the post office ladies were obligated under law to deliver these papers.
I also found out they are distributed all over the F/M area. As the post office ladies and I chatted about the publication, we asked faculty walking by if they received this newspaper in the mail. All of them said yes and most of them admitted to just throwing it away, which is what most of Concordia’s students are doing as well. I was told that on the day they are put in the PO boxes, the recycling bins are overflowing with still-sealed papers from students who don’t even give the cover a glance to read the headings.
I can understand why someone would decide not to read this paper. It said some very hateful and homophobic things that deeply offended me. Reading more, I also gathered themes of sexism and “proper” gender roles in other articles. I am offended that this ended up in my PO box as I do not feel it reflects our campus’ values.
It is also a huge waste of paper, time, and expense for the church to send out this many papers to Concordia. So what was I told I could do to stop receiving future issues of this newspaper? I would have to represent myself to the Fargo Baptist Church on behalf of the whole of Concordia and request these not be sent here anymore. The odds didn’t look great in my favor.
This is where my spirit of activism comes in. I decided that day to reach out to the campus and our various organizations to support me in this cause to remove a publication that is imposed on us in an invasive manner and that does not represent our campus’ values of equality and fairness. I have made my voice known and have teamed up with the Student Government Association, Student Environmental Alliance, Feminist Majority Alliance, and the Straight and Gay Alliance. At the beginning of next week we will be in Knutson with a petition that can be signed if you want the Fargo Baptist Church to politely stop sending Faith for Life to Concordia.
If you feel that the publication does not reflect our campus values of equality and respect and that it is a huge waste of paper and resources, I hope to see you at the table next week.
Great job, Steven. I proudly signed the petition today.
Kudos to you for doing something about those mail inserts. I am an alumnus of Concordia and I get those inserts in my home mailbox every so often and I just throw them away. I hope you are successful with your petition!