Dear Baylor administration:
What could possibly be so difficult about acknowledging one of your alumnae who brought great fame to your school through a national basketball championship now languishing in a Russian penal colony and who needs to be brought home?
Are you so afraid of the MAGA forces knocking at your door that you dare not breathe a word of support for a Black lesbian athlete accused of a minor drug violation as part of a cynical political ploy? Do you really believe the conservative lie that she broke Russian law and therefore deserves to be punished so severely?
This reeks of the same logic that says every time a Black American is shot dead by police “they just should have followed instructions.”
You do know that the whole “law and order” schtick is code language for racism, right? Surely that gets taught in a history or political science class somewhere on campus.
“You do know that the whole ‘law and order’ schtick is code language for racism, right?”
Or are you so afraid of the anti-LGBTQ forces in Texas Baptist churches that you dare not show support for a famous woman married to another woman? It is one thing to keep your head in the sand about the presence of gay students on campus, but it is cruel to ignore an alumnus in international peril simply because she’s gay. It’s not like Brittney Griner is trying to start an LGBTQ support group on campus.
Where is your sense of Christian compassion? One of your own is in peril — held as a pawn in the machinations of a madman — and you can’t so much as call for a time of prayer for her.
I understand you had a moment of silence last night at the women’s basketball game for the football players tragically killed at the University of Virginia. That’s kind and compassionate and appropriate. But why haven’t you done the same — or more — for Brittney Griner?
The only explanation that makes sense is that you are afraid of the MAGA base out there, somehow thinking they are essential to your success as a top-tier research university. The reality is, they are not.
The homophobic people on your board of regents and among your alumni do not have the best interest of the university at heart. What they want is forced conformity to an age gone by. If you don’t believe that, drive over to Abilene and see what they’ve done to Hardin-Simmons University.
“The reality is you still have regents and local pastors supporting conversion therapy — and you haven’t said a word about that either.”
Many of us have been patient with your slow walk toward inclusion of LGBTQ students and alumni because we thought you were at least headed in the right direction. There have been some glimmers of hope, even of kindness, in recent years. But the reality is you still have regents and local pastors supporting conversion therapy — and you haven’t said a word about that either.
Recall the words of Jesus, who taught us that true religion is demonstrated by visiting prisoners: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Jesus is waiting for you to acknowledge the image of God in Brittney Griner and to work for her release on moral and humanitarian grounds.
To remain silent is to betray the very essence of what it means to be a Christian university. And right now, your silence is deafening.
Perhaps Griner was right in her memoir when she wrote: “The more I think about it, the more I feel like the people who run the school want it both ways: they want to keep the (anti-gay) policy, so they can keep selling themselves as a Christian university, but they are more than happy to benefit from the success of their gay athletes. That is, as long as those gay athletes don’t talk about being gay.”
The person sitting in a Russian penal colony right now is not just a famous gay athlete. She is a human being worthy of love and respect. Why is it so hard to talk about that?
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global.
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