Point Loma Nazarene University vs. Prof. Phil Bowles

In her recent article in The Point Weekly, “Homosexuality: A Civil Rights Frontier,” student writer Maria Bareman concludes by saying that “we have to be willing to engage openly and acceptingly in conversations about homosexuality.”

PLNU Prof. Phil Bowles and his wife Sharon have been promoting exactly that kind of conversation during the regular meetings of their All God’s Children group on Sunday afternoons at San Diego First Church of the Nazarene. Phil and Sharon have hosted these discussions, which are an official ministry of that Nazarene congregation, for more than three years. (The couple were, if I understand correctly, life-long Nazarenes until they joined the United Methodist Church.)

Over the years they’ve had various kinds of programs in their two-hour meetings, including 1) PLNU faculty and staff, 2) PLNU LGBT students and grads, 3) gay and lesbian Nazarenes, 4) LGBT-related DVDs, and 5) even a retired Nazarene pastor.

Prof. Bowles is being oppressed by grievous restrictions of his constitutional freedom. I don’t know how many of us could endure the shackles that have been placed on him.

1) The administration has directly forbidden him to publicize or reach out to anyone on campus regarding All God’s Children (AGC).

2) He is forbidden to identify himself as affiliated with PLNU if he speaks publicly on LGBT issues.

3) He is forbidden from mentioning All God’s Children in campus email.

4) If AGC speakers are affiliated with Point Loma Nazarene University, this connection cannot be mentioned in announcements.

5) Prof. Bowles is forbidden to initiate personal conversations on campus with students or faculty on LGBT issues.

And it is not only Phil who is under severe restriction.

Last year a Point Loma professor was scheduled to speak at All God’s Children. The speaker’s topic was announced to the AGC email list. She was warned–pressured–not to participate, and the professor, succumbing to the pressure, cancelled at the last minute. I was there for the no-show.

The conversation that PLNU senior Maria Bareman urges is long overdue. Over the years there have been many forced resignations and suicides of both students and alums, the direct results of Point Loma Nazarene University’s official anti-homosexual policies. How many more resignations and suicides will be quietly swept under the rug before Point Loma Nazarene University’s anti-homosexual policy is abolished?

PLNU ASB president Allison Waters, quoted in the article, doesn’t “want to feel as if there are certain views being forced,” but that it “is extremely difficult” not to feel that way. Waters said this Nazarene university needs a “constructive way to have such a heavy conversation.”

Speaking of conversations, let me mention a sixth restriction imposed on Prof. Bowles. Phil is not allowed to refer to anything like a “campus dialogue” on LGBT issues at Point Loma Nazarene University. Apparently, it is the official view of PLNU’s administration and trustees that there is no “dialogue” at Point Loma Nazarene University regarding gays and lesbians, and there’s not going to be one.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
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