Home Christian News Christian University Cancels Promise Keepers Event Over Pride Month Statement

Christian University Cancels Promise Keepers Event Over Pride Month Statement

Less than two months later, Belmont added “sexual orientation” to its nondiscrimination policy, prompting Tennessee Baptist Convention executive director Randy Davis to tell Baptist Press, “We did sever ties in 2007, but many of us never dreamed that the school would walk away so rapidly from their Christian heritage and roots. My heart is broken for all of the Tennessee Baptists that have loved and invested themselves in Belmont over the years.”

The following month in February 2011, Belmont formally recognized a gay student organization (Bridge Builders) for the first time. According to the student-run media outlet, Belmont Vision, in early 2022, university students formed the Belmont Boulevard Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA), with the purpose of creating a safe space for non-religious queer students. Belmont Boulevard GSA is not affiliated with the university. 

Promise Keepers’ Statement 

In its statement responding to Pride Month, Promise Keepers affirmed that it is important to reject sin, that forgiveness is found in Jesus, that gender ideology is “an idol of our culture,” and that marriage is between one man and one woman. “The path of following Jesus Christ is difficult and countercultural, but it is the path of LIFE,” said PK.

As of this writing Belmont has not issued a statement on the cancellation, nor has it responded to a request for comment. Harrison told ChurchLeaders that a Belmont official told him that since the university had left the Tennessee Baptist Convention, the college had become ecumenical and was under a “much bigger tent.”

This is not the first time PK has faced public controversy over its views on gender and sexuality. Prior to the 2021 Promise Keepers conference, which was held at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, USA Today sports columnist Mike Freeman called on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and AT&T officials to cancel the event. Freeman specifically referenced comments that Harrison made on male sexuality, remarks that Freeman labeled “hate speech.”

The event continued as planned, however, which Harrison sees as notable when contrasted with Belmont’s actions. “I find it interesting that Dallas Cowboys stadium would have us there, but Belmont wouldn’t,” he said. “So the Dallas Cowboys apparently feels that their values are more aligned with us than a Christian College.”

Harrison said PK had a friendly conversation with Belmont about the university’s decision to cancel, and he was hopeful they could arrive at a peaceful resolution to the situation. But after that phone call, he said, representatives simply stopped talking to them. A press release issued by PK states that Harrison “reached out to Belmont leadership for a broader conversation about the influence of social norms and popular culture on the values of Christian Institutions. Promise Keepers is still waiting for a response.”

“We at Promise Keepers feel like one of our main tenants is helping men understand the issues of the day and how to respond to them,” said Harrison. That was the thinking behind issuing the Pride statement. It was not intended to be hostile or stir controversy, but to help men respond in a loving, clear way to issues of gender and sexuality. It is “really sad,” said Harrison, that anyone who is a Christian would take issue with PK’s statement.

“This isn’t really about Belmont,” Harrison said. He believes Christians need to be aware that there is a “major swath of Christian colleges” who present as Christian, but have different standards when it comes to how they relate to their students.

Belmont University responded as follows in a statement to ChurchLeaders:

Promise Keepers recently issued a press release that incorrectly states why Belmont University decided to withdraw the campus’ Fisher Center as the potential venue for an event anticipated for late September in Nashville. Belmont informed Promise Keepers leadership that the event could not be held on our campus because a blog the organization posted, “In Light of June Being Designated as ‘Pride Month,’” includes comments that we believe unnecessarily fan the flames of culture wars and are harmful to members of our community. The Promise Keepers press release also falsely asserts that Belmont had not responded, when in fact University leaders have had multiple conversations with senior leaders at Promise Keepers, including CEO Ken Harrison. In these phone calls our reasoning was thoroughly and respectfully discussed, and we believed we reached mutual understanding. 

Belmont and the Fisher Center welcome the opportunity to host and work with a variety of groups that hold disparate opinions, and we encourage the exchange of dialogue. Yet as an ecumenical, Christ-centered institution we are also unequivocal in our belief in the value of each human being, and we are committed to engaging in constructive conversations that demonstrate kindness and seek understanding. We will not knowingly provide a space for any group whose language we believe to lack that same respect.