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March

23, 2013 The Texas A&M Community College Station, Texas 77843 To Whom It May Concern at A&M: It has come to our attention that a faction of the Student Senate has introduced The GLBT-Funding Opt Out Bill, S.B. 65-70, which purports to allow students who object for religious purposes to the use of their funds to support the GLBT Resource Center on the College Station Campus. To the Brite Divinity School community on the campus of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, this proposal sounds like a re-cycled version of many previous bad ideas wrapped in religion to give its weak arguments some borrowed authority. We hope the better angels of the Aggie nature kick in, and defeat this proposal. The vast majority of scholars of religion and philosophy, Christian and Jewish, have rejected the sort of religion-based bigotry being used to justify efforts to roll back the calendar to a less diverse, less just day and time. No credible argument can be made for the Bibles opposition to committed, loving, same-sex relationships. No ancient person, from Moses to Jesus to the Apostle Paul, ever had a concept of sexual orientation in their worldview at the time of the establishment of Jewish and Christian religious traditions. Credible biblical scholarship debunks the religious argument from Scripture that the so-called traditional values folks have been hanging onto for decades now. While zombies may be popular on cable television, my scholar-colleagues and I know that such attempts to marshal biblical texts in efforts like S.B. 65-70 that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty and staff in the name of religious freedom are no more than the walking dead. The argument from religious freedom has been tried in Fort Worth, and found wanting. Attempts to fire a gay German teacher at a Fort Worth ISD secondary school two years ago failed to meet the test of honesty and truth, and was set aside when the exceptional teacher in question was vindicated by the Board of Education. The heart of religion in a free state is to hold people above ideologies, and protect us from the very sort of discrimination this Student Senate bill seeks to enact. We hope

the A&M community will not make the same, tired mistakes of years ago, and come to a richer, fuller understanding of responsible religious freedomto care for those who have no one else to care for them in the name of Godrather than to discriminate as if there were some sort of totalizing state religion in Texas. Further, the administration of Texas A&M has long ago seen fit to leave the prejudices of racism, misogyny, ableism, anti-Semitism, and anti-gay bias back in the bad old days of the past, when people were less educated and less attuned to the demands of a pluralistic, diverse, multi-ethnic, and multi-orientational country. Multitudes of LGBT Texans, their families, friends, and straight allies are proud of the A&M community for establishing one of the premier GLBT resource centers in the state of Texas and in the United States. Such narrow-visioned proposals as S.B. 65-70 deny the millions of dollars coming from tax paying LGBT Texans who are glad to support a great university like yours, and do not need to vet every use of it on your campus. A state school like yours is answerable to millions of people beyond your campus, and the progressive community in the Lone Star State surely does not want your great school to endorse discrimination against anyone. As a Baptist minister, ordained to the Gospel ministry for 36 years now, I can testify that support for the A&M GLBT Resource Center is a good thinga very good thing, and one I am proud of, both as a Baptist and a Golden Rule Christian. I have had the great privilege of visiting your campus, of meeting the leadership of the GLBT Center, and of hearing of its history of service to the larger university community. I wonder why some of my fellow-believers who profess to believe the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ so easily dismiss the very Golden Rule Jesus commended to his disciplesand that they have passed down the corridor of the years to us: that we treat others as we would have them treat us (see Matthew 7:12). Nothing else trumps that great teaching in either Christianity or Judaism, as the law, the prophets, and the Christ testify. Why would followers of the Word now seek to turn the oracle of true freedom into a form of discrimination, to pervert it from its gracious purposes? I do not know. But I do know that it is high time to call the A&M community to rouse itself to justice and mercy, to the best values by which we all live, and refuse this small-minded, discriminatory proposal. Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle Professor of Practical Theology, and Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry Brite Divinity School TCU Box 298130 Fort Worth, Texas 76129