Inviting Greg Boyd, senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., to speak at an inauguration has raised the ire of secularists, despite Boyd's avoidance of Christian hot-button topics of abortion and same-sex marriage.
-- From "University of Rhode Island president’s choice of speaker resonates, stirs debates" by Jennifer D. Jordan, Providence Journal Staff Writer 4/2/10
University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley’s selection of a Christian minister to speak at his inauguration ceremony has triggered a campus-wide discussion about the separation of church and state, tolerance and free speech — precisely the principles Dooley says he hopes will define the URI community.
But not everyone at the state university is comfortable with his decision.
Dooley invited Greg Boyd, a well-known minister from Minnesota, to deliver the keynote address at the April 8 inauguration, a choice that has sparked all sorts of discussions — online, informally and in campus meetings. Some students and faculty say they are concerned that Boyd’s views on issues such as same sex-marriage and abortion — he opposes both — and his position as a religious leader make him an inappropriate representative at such a significant public university event.
But Dooley, the son and husband of Baptist ministers, said he had read many of Boyd’s books and was struck by their emphasis on themes Dooley says are relevant to college communities. These include separating politics from religion, advocating nonviolence and refraining from judging others, views that have put Boyd at odds with evangelical Christians.
Boyd said he no longer describes himself as an evangelical as the word “has gotten so wrapped up with so much that I’m against. Jesus does not want to enforce his morality on others. That’s why he attracted prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus has this encompassing embrace. His love for people outruns his desire to control them.”
Michael A. Rice, professor of fisheries and aquaculture, says he, too, is troubled by the symbolism of a keynote speaker who has spoken out against gay rights. But in recent days, Rice said he has come to think the controversy has been good for the university.
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