GREENVILLE, S.C. — Three young women were arrested April 4, the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., for walking onto the campus of Bob Jones University (BJU) to engage students in dialogue. These individuals, part of the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride Eastbound Bus, came to speak with students at the university about its discriminatory policy toward LGBT students and the doctrine that sustains it.
Soulforce Equality Riders were arrested at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.
Upon arrival at Bob Jones, Equality Riders were met with a handful of obscure evangelical fringe groups protesting their visit and message of inclusion for LGBT Christians.
Through bullhorns and homophobic signs, they loudly and forcefully spoke against the acceptance of LGBT people.
The Equality Riders arrested were Katie Higgins, 24, from Charleston, S.C.; Amanda Harris, 22, from Little Rock, Ark.; and Bronwen Tomb, 23, from New London, Conn. These students were arrested as they attempted to walk onto campus to deliver artwork and a call for change to the campus.
They were cited for trespassing and then released.
Harris and Tomb both walked on campus carrying pieces of art representing the effects of homophobia in their lives. Higgins walked on after reading a document inspired by and formatted after Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, in which he brought to light the injustices of the church and called for change.
After Higgins’ arrest, Mandy Matthias, author of the document and coordinator for the visit to Bob Jones, finished the oration of the theses at the front gate of campus.
Bob Jones students were unable to speak with Equality Riders, but Riders believe that they made an impact on the student body.
“As I was being arrested I could see hundreds of students looking over at us from the chapel, interested in what was happening. It is unfortunate that BJU administration was so quick to restrict the academic freedom on their campus that should be an integral part of the college experience,” said Katie Higgins, co-director for the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride, east bus.
BJU, a private Christian college located in Greenville, S.C., is one of 32 Christian colleges and universities that are part of the second annual Soulforce Equality Ride and the ninth visit on the eastbound route. The 2007 Equality Ride is a two-month journey by bus that is taking 50 young adults on two distinct routes to schools that actively discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.