In a special meeting Thursday of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, held behind closed doors in “executive session,” OU Regent Kirk Humphreys was apparently persuaded by his fellow members to resign. Humphreys, who was soon to take over as chairman of the board, had indicated earlier this month that he would not resign following remarks he had made on a TV program, in which he said that homosexuality was “wrong.”
OU President David Boren, a former governor of Oklahoma and former U.S. senator, released a statement following Humphrey’s ouster. “I thank regent Humphreys for his years of service on the Board. I believe he has made the right decision for himself and for the University of Oklahoma.”
Boren added, “We will continue to move forward with our steadfast commitment to building a strong and inclusive community where every member of the university feels valued.” Except, apparently, Christians who take the Bible seriously when it states that homosexuality is wrong.
Humphrey's remarks that led to his resignation were made on a Sunday morning public affairs TV program, aired earlier this month on the Oklahoma City NBC affiliate, KFOR. While discussing the recent stories concerning sexual harassment in Congress on the TV show Flash Point, Humphreys said that homosexuality was “wrong,” but “if it’s OK, then it’s OK for everybody and quite frankly it’s OK for men to sleep with little boys if it’s OK.”
This apparent comparison of consensual homosexuality with pedophilia by Humphreys made it possible for those calling for his ouster to succeed. But the reality is that his assertion that homosexuality itself is wrong was sufficient to get him forced off the Board of Regents.
Humphreys, a former mayor of Oklahoma City and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2004 (he lost to Tom Coburn in the primary), later clarified his earlier comments. “My moral stance about homosexuality is that it is against the teachings of Scripture. Although, I know that upsets some people, it is my belief. In America, we have the right to believe as we choose and to freely express that belief.”
But apparently there are many who disagree with Humphrey’s being able to freely express a Bible-based belief and continue to serve in public office. At the next meeting of the Board of Regents, held last week, about a hundred protesters showed up to protest, arguing for the position that while he may have the right to his opinion [for now, I should note], he did not have the right to hold that opinion and serve on the OU Board of Regents.
Troy Stevenson, director of the LGBTQ group calling itself Freedom Oklahoma, said, “I think it sends an awful message to incoming students, to LGBTQ faculty and staff, and to the communities around the three universities the board oversees, to have someone who is so flagrantly anti-LGBTQ leading the Board of Regents.”
Reduced to its fundamentals, the issue is whether a Christian who believes that the Bible is the authority for his faith and practice can serve in public office. The Bible is very clear in both the Old and New Testaments that homosexual behavior is condemned, along with adultery and fornication. Thus, the implication is that a person must choose to disavow the teachings of the Bible if he or she wishes to serve in public office in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has a provision barring “religious tests” before a person can serve in public office. Humphreys said earlier this week, “Let me be clear. I do not think that homosexuality in any way disqualifies a person from full participation as a citizen in our community including service in public office.”
But apparently stating a biblically based religious position does disqualify a person from serving on the OU Board of Regents. And the attitude that certain religious “tests” can be applied to keep individuals from serving in public office is not unique to Oklahoma. Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders announced this past year that he would not vote for a nominee, Russell Vought, to serve as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget simply because Vought had written that only persons who believe in Jesus Christ have salvation. Perhaps most strangely, the 2016 “Libertarian” candidate for president, Gary Johnson, even declared “religious liberty” to be a black hole.
In his announcement, OU President Boren summed up his perspective on the entire episode. “I hope this experience will serve as an opportunity for all members of the OU family to recommit ourselves to the spirit of inclusivity.” In other words, members of the faculty and other employees of the University of Oklahoma should take note. If you spout off Bible-based religious opinions, you will be excluded from the “OU family.” All in the name of “inclusivity,” of course.
Photo of the OU Board of Regents (Kirk Humphreys, seated front right): University of Oklahoma