Students to rally outside lecture

Students from various campus organizations, including P.R.I.D.E. Alliance, College Republicans and College Democrats, will rally after a speech tonight in the Marshall Student Center that has garnered much heated discussion over its content.

The lecture, titled “Homosexuality and Christianity,” is being hosted by a USF chapter of Reformed University Fellowship in the Marshall Student Center, and features Rosaria Butterfield, a self-described “former leftist lesbian professor” who now identifies as a Christian and is a pastor’s wife.

Members of the organizations questioned whether the speaker’s message could be harmful to hear for students who identify as part of the LGBT community or are questioning their sexuality.

Butterfield, former English professor at Syracuse University in her 30s, who said she was in a committed lesbian relationship when she undertook the project of reading the Bible and met a campus pastor who helped her realize her “mistaken identity,” now speaks about her beliefs about homosexuality — and homophobia — being a sin.

While she said it’s important that all people are treated with respect and that she does not support conversion therapy or heterosexuality as a solution to homosexuality, in previous lectures, she has stated that all people must give up their sins. Sin, she said, is something everyone is born with.

“If we’re all born this way, we all have to give it up,” she said in a lecture at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. “It’s not the same thing we have to give up, and it may be harder for some. …But it’s difficult pitting one person’s experience against another’s.”

Luke Blankenship, president of P.R.I.D.E., said when the organization heard about the lecture, they organized a meeting on Facebook to decide what the best course of action to take was.

Blankenship said many organizations approached P.R.I.D.E. to join in the rally they’re calling the CAN Coexist Rally, including three Christian off-campus organizations, Crosswinds Wesley at USF, Episcopal Chapel Center at USF and Faith Family United Church of Christ, which will offer opportunities for students in the LGBT community who are looking to be involved in faith-based services.

Blankenship said he has several questions he plans to ask Butterfield.

He said the ralliers plan to hand out notes to all attendees who exit the lecture that let them know they are “loved and accepted as they are.”

“It’s important students know that you can be a part of the LGBT community and a practicing Christian and that it’s OK to be who you are,” he said.