If you were not able to read the previous two posts, we discussed about Michael Harris who founded Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian college geared primarily for homeschooled students with a vision of impacting the world for Christ. Presently he serves as Chancellor of Patrick Henry College (PHC). For the record, I know a student who attended PHC. This student had life-long goals of becoming an attorney and the school seemed to do well for him, as he recently passed his bar exam. I’m sure there are fine professors there.
Apparently there is an underground group that has formed and has connections with Patrick Henry College (PHC). The LGBT group began a Facebook page and also a blog (QueerPHC) and Michael Farris found out about it. The group used the name “Patrick Henry” in the title and that did not go over too well, to say the least.
We choose to limit our student body, board, and staff to those who are committed to our statement of faith. PHC is committed to a non-discriminatory policy in so far as it is consistent with our statement of faith. The practice of homosexual conduct or other extra-marital sexual relations is inconsistent with our faith position.
While we seek to avoid rules that suggest legalistic righteousness, for the good of institutional order and to convey a message that is consistent with the community we represent, we will always have student rules of conduct that will set us apart from the amoral, secular world.
We, the students of Patrick Henry College, fully aware of our daily dependence on the grace of God, commit to set ourselves apart in thought, word, and deed, to honor Jesus Christ, and to love our neighbor. We passionately aspire to live our best for the Lord by conducting ourselves in the spirit of Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
Therefore, I pledge, by the grace of God, to submit to proper authorities, to be honest, to respect the property of others, and to speak edifying words. I will refrain from using any substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, in any way prohibited by proper authority such as the government, church, family, or school. I will reserve sexual activity for marriage, shun sexually explicit material, and seek parental counsel when pursuing a romantic relationship. Finally, I will seek biblical resolution and reconciliation in my conflicts. I pledge to hold my fellow students accountable to these principles and ask that they do the same for me, in order that Jesus Christ might be honored and glorified.
Students will not advocate non-Biblical sexual practices, such as extra-marital sex, homosexuality or homosexual “marriage” (e.g., Is 5:20, Romans 1:26-27). (Supporting a candidate for public office who advocates such practices does not in itself constitute the advocacy of such practices.)
Jurisdiction: These Biblically-based standards apply to all PHC students at all times, both on and off campus, without exception; they are binding from enrollment until Commencement, even during the summer and College breaks.
Students will dress modestly out of consideration for one another. Also, students will not dress in a way that will cause others to mistake them for a member of the other sex (e.g., 1 Tim 2:9; Deut 22:5).
Let’s take a look at the actions and behavior as a result of the LGBT blog and Facebook page.
Did PHC not realize that by censoring, they were actually promoting the site? This is titillating news for students. Most likely the news of this banned site was spread far more than if they had ignored it. A school that teaches students how to debate is afraid of a little conflict and censors? Rather than banning the site, they could have used it as a discussion tool. Let’s not forget that most of these students are adults. Oy! Moving right along.
So, not only was the site censored, Chancellor Michael Farris publicly posted a comment on their Facebook wall threatening legal action:
Ok, this comment touched a big nerve with me. As most of my readers are aware, my former pastor bullied me, trying to force me to take down my blog by not only threatening to sue me, but by actually filing a defamation lawsuit against me and four others who commented on my blog or elsewhere. I want to be clear that I’m talking about behavior of this key leader. What does God’s word have to say to do if you have a problem with someone? How are you to handle this kind of situation?
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
(Matthew 18:15-17 ESV)
In light of this passage that any seasoned Christian would know, I wondered if Farris had made any attempt to contact this group privately either on their blog or Facebook page before publicly posting his comment above, so I sent a private message via Facebook to “Kate” from the group. Here is my quick note and the response from Kate:
There’s not much to add, except that our message is intrinsically tied to the name Patrick Henry College. We are students of Patrick Henry College. We share about our experiences at Patrick Henry College. We reach out to other students at Patrick Henry College. The demand that we stop using the school’s name is really a thinly disguised demand that we shut up.
These students are not dumb. They sought legal assistance with Public Citizen who also reported this story:
The students reached out to Public Citizen for assistance, and before drafting a letter in response to his threat, I called Farris to inquire whether he was represented by counsel. Within a few minutes, Farris had posted on his Facebook page a retraction of this threats, saying in tortured English that “while we believe in the inappropriate nature of the use of our trademarked name, litigation is not appropriate.” (The retraction may also have been the result of an inquiry from New York Magazine).
I have one question for Mr. Farris: how would Christ have handled this situation? Would he have gone public or threatened a lawsuit? I don’t think so.
After I hit “publish”, I will tweet this article and tag HSLDA and Patrick Henry College. Please do the right thing, Mr. Farris, it’s never too late to apologize.