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The MOB’s message to Baylor

I’ve been a member of the Rice MOB since 1988, when I arrived in Houston as a grad student in math. I’m especially proud to have been part of the MOB this weekend.

Rice University’s Marching Owl Band delivered a controversial skit and played pro-LGBTQ song “YMCA” by the Village People as dozens of students and alumni rushed the field with rainbow flags at its football game against Baylor University on Saturday night.

The skit comes as LGBTQ students and alumni fight to be recognized by the private Baptist college in Waco.

Chad Fisher, a spokesman for the Marching Owl Band, also known as “The MOB,” said he and his bandmates decided on a “Star Wars”-themed show months ago, but after learning about Baylor LGBTQ students’ ongoing fight to get recognition for their student group, they decided to incorporate that into their performance.

“Some of us did some more digging and found how deep it went,” Fisher said.

A Baylor spokeswoman confirmed that on Sept. 6, the college’s administration declined to officially recognize and charter Gamma Alpha Upsilon, an LGBTQ-student group on campus that has been fighting to be recognized since its inception in 2011.

The private Baptist university’s refusal to recognize Gamma Alpha Upsilon, or “GAY” in Greek letters, as an official student group has prevented them from receiving certain privileges, including the opportunity to advertise events on campus, reserve university spaces for meetings and receive funding through the student government.

Though Baylor President Linda Livingstone did not issue an official statement about the recent charter denial, the spokeswoman pointed to an Aug. 27 statement from Livingstone. In it, Livingstone said that “Baylor is committed to providing a loving and caring community for all students — including our LGBTQ students.”

But she also referred to the college’s “Human Sexuality” policy, which states that “the university affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God” and that “Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.”

Baylor’s sexual conduct policy, also referenced in Livingstone’s statement, explains that it is “expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching,” including “heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior.”

See here for more on this. You can also see the full script for the show here, and the scoreboard display that accompanied the show here. It’s not just that I believe Baylor is wrong, it’s that I think Baylor, and other “Christian” leaders, politicians, and organizations completely miss the main idea of Jesus Christ’s teachings. It’s very clear, if you actually read what Jesus said over and over again, that Jesus taught we are all God’s children and we are all loved by God. Jesus made a point of associating with lepers and prostitutes, paupers and tax collectors, to emphasize that we are not judged by who we are, we are judged by what we do. In particular, we are judged by our actions towards “the least of these”. (Ever read the parable of the sheep and the goats? Of Lazarus and the rich man? It’s all right there.) It amazes me how often the most prominent “Christians” of our time act like the villains in one of Christ’s parables. But here we are.

The insistence by groups like Gamma Alpha Upsilon and individual LGBTQ people that they too are included in God’s grace also amazes me. I, personally, would take the hate and vitriol that comes from the “Christians” and say fine, I don’t want to be part of your stupid, immoral group, I’ve got plenty of love and acceptance over here. But these folks, so much more than Linda Livinstone and Ken Starr and the rest of that crowd, have taken Jesus’ actual words and teachings to heart. They believe it, they know they’re a part of it, and they won’t give up until everyone else knows that, too. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I find that so moving and inspiring, and I want them to have what they have always deserved. If making dumb Star Wars jokes in a silly halftime show at the expense of the Baylor administration helps them in some infinitesimal way, I’m happy.

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5 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    You can show your love and support for prostitutes without opening up your own den as a whorehouse for them to work in. Baylor IS showing their love. They obviously admit gay kids, but they aren’t going to permit them to formally promote their immorality and debauchery on campus, in the same way Baylor doesn’t have a ‘swingers’ club, and doesn’t permit alcohol on campus.

    Don’t expect Baylor to hold a “drag queen story time” in their library any time soon, either.

  2. Ross says:

    Bill, how ard gay kids immoral and debauched? I bet there are many folks at Baylor violating other things from Leviticus, like mixing meat and dairy, or wearing wool and cotton. Are they picking on gay students only because as use they find gay sex “icky”. Does Baylir punish straight students for engaging in sex without marriage?

  3. C.L. says:

    I suspect Baylor achieves 4.0 levels of immorality and debauchery on a daily basis in Waco, with little of it revolving around homosexual acts in/around campus. What happened to ‘before casting the first stone’ ? I guess rape is okay if it’s a man/woman, but consensual sex between two members of the same sex… Heaven forbid.

  4. General Grant says:

    Let’s not forget Baylor’s recent issues with tolerating rape and sexual assault. I’m not a bible scholar but my guess is Jesus wouldn’t be in favor of that.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    C.L.,

    Yes, I would agree that most of the same kind of immorality that happens at other universities happens at Baylor, too. Here’s the difference. Baylor, unlike the Rice Marching Owl Band, doesn’t officially endorse that immorality. I love the Rice band…love their irreverence. They are creative and clever, and the best part of watching a Rice game. Baylor has a group called the Noze Brotherhood, a non sanctioned group that is at least equally as creative and acerbic as the MOB. The difference is, the Noze Brotherhood isn’t officially sanctioned by the university…..just like the gay kids’ group isn’t.

    Both are free to do their thing off campus, though.

    Interesting tidbit:

    Rand Paul was a Noze Brother.

    Baylor’s had its share of missteps, not the least of which was recruiting juco and otherwise criminal thug athletes because winning became more important than running clean athletic programs. Alumni want winners, and I guess the university felt pressure to make it happen, standards be damned, and the results were predictable.

    There are certainly valid things to criticize Baylor over. Refusing to endorse the gay frat isn’t one of them.