Draper Building at Berea College in Berea, KY
Photo credit: IMCBerea (CC-By-2.0)

Students for Life over the weekend brought their “Stop The Violence” display to Berea College, a historic Christian college established in 1855 by abolitionists and “radical reformers” in Berea, KY. The school that boasts a “tuition-free pledge” for all its students located in the Bible belt should be a receptive venue for a pro-life message. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

Brenna Lewis, the Appalachian Regional Coordinator for Students for Life, reported on the organization’s blog:

 In order to reach the largest audience possible, our student leader decided to host the display during their Homecoming weekend. All appropriate procedures were followed, and the space was approved by the administration. About five minutes after finishing setup, an older couple stopped in front of us and asked, “Is this an anti-choice display?” We explained why we were there, to which the woman responded, “This is disgusting. I am a labor hall nurse and I am very pro-choice.” We invited her to dialogue with us, requests which she rudely shot down repeatedly until angrily stomping away.

This behavior was dishearteningly common throughout the day. Not long after this altercation, two administrators approached us, pulled our student leader aside for about 10 minutes, then returned asking us to move our entire display to a back hallway. At a private school, students basically check their free speech rights at the door, and we had no choice but to comply. One of the administrators even helped us move our things…

…. During our last half hour of the display, the Head of Alumni Relations approached us and insisted that we needed to censor the portion of our banner that depicts medical diagrams of abortion. She was far less polite than the other administrators from earlier in the day, demanding to know who exactly we all were and questioning our student leader’s right to invite outside groups on campus. She even made a remark that our presence there was grounds for them to re-evaluate their policies regarding which outside organizations are allowed to be invited on campus (can you say discrimination?). Our day at Berea was capped off by a visit by a school Public Safety Officer who was sent over to us – whether to check on our safety, or to assess whether we were threatening others, wasn’t clear.

It seems that Students for Life received a better reception when they visited Iowa State University earlier this fall.

This response is incredibly ironic for a school that was launched by abolitionists and when reading the school’s preamble to their “great commitments.” The school does not appear to have any denominational ties.

Berea College, founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, continues today as an educational institution still firmly rooted in its historic purpose “to promote the cause of Christ.” Adherence to the College’s scriptural foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26), shapes the College’s culture and programs so that students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of a world shaped by Christian values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice. This environment frees persons to be active learners, workers, and servers as members of the academic community and as citizens of the world. The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual potentials and with those the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them into action.

The school has a Planned Parenthood group, and recently had abortionist Dr. Willie Parker, an alumnus of the college, speak during a convocation in November of 2016 on “Reproductive Justice in Christian Understanding: New Wine for Old Wineskins.”

For a school that is concerned with elevating human dignity and equality, one would think there would be a greater concern for the unborn. This school appears to be more concerned about progressive social justice than biblical justice which would embrace a pro-life ethic.

It is sad that a school founded by abolitionists would not embrace this modern-day abolitionist movement. Berea College may have Christian roots, but there was nothing Christian about the hospitality they demonstrated to Students for Life.

5 comments
  1. As a student who goes to Berea, I witnessed the demonstration and it was not moved to a “back hallway.” They were moved to a separate area of the main hallway because they set up LITERALLY right in front of another event being hosted for Homecoming. Homecoming: You know, a time for alums to come back to meet with old friends to catch up and relive memories? I’m sure they didn’t appreciate having to go around this eyesore of a pro-life propaganda booth to get to their event, but you don’t see them crying about it like these pathetic trolls. These organizations know exactly what they’re doing when they come to campuses. They try to get a rise out of people and then play victim when they get push back. Get a grip. If the organization truly wanted to have healthy, non-combative dialogue, they’re going about it completely wrong at a totally wrong time. Oh, and by the way, they signed up for BereaFEST, which is an event that took place OUTSIDE elsewhere on campus, so they set up in the wrong place to begin with. They should count themselves lucky they weren’t moved outside with the rest of the vendors that had to endure the crummy weather. Good grief.

    1. Hey, thank you so much for your comment. It is much appreciated. My name is Carter Heller and I am the student president of Bereans for Life, the organization that put on this event. We were told that we were allowed to set up there and we took half of the hallway and allowed the other event to have the other half (they were already set up when we got here.)

      The reason why I picked homecoming weekend was because 1) the Appalachian region had this tour during this date, 2) it would reach both alumni and students for more conversations, and 3) it worked into the group’s semester scheduling for events.

      We were a part of BereaFEST but I had taken the iniative (after seeing the weather early in the week) to ask to be moved inside due to high wind and knowing how it would affect the panels. I was given that permission in advance by the person in charge of BereaFEST and someone in Student Life.

      I do not see myself as playing victim, more so as standing up for the rights that I have as a student at Berea and as a student leader. I was given permission to do this event and administration knew what was on each panel so I should not have been asked to cover up a section of the panel.

      If you have any more questions, or if anyone reading this article sees this comment and has more questions for me, please email me at [email protected].

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

  2. The worst part about the back-and-forth regarding abortion is the distortions and bold-faced False Witness your side engages in. You know it. We know it. Everyone knows it.

    1. It isn’t clear in your comment which side you are referring to. However, I can assure you absolutely that there is nothing presented by Students for Life of America that is false. They can document as true everything they put forward.

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