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

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