Statement About the Unrest on Campus

At St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and University Center, we place a high value on freedom of speech, the right to protest, and freedom of religion because we believe that God loves all and that all are created in God’s image. While the members and leadership of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church hold a diversity of views on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, the Ohio State University campus is our neighborhood, and we think of our church as a place of sanctuary and spiritual respite for people of all faiths. When events on campus affect the religious liberty and free speech of students, faculty, and staff, they affect us as well.

We call upon the Ohio State University to drop all charges against OSU students who were arrested on April 25, and to speak against the forced removal of hijabs, refusal to provide halal/kosher foods, and denial of spaces for prayer that OSU students and staff were subjected to after their arrests. We call upon the university to suspend current space rules and to rewrite those rules with an aim towards deescalation and dialogue during times of active protest instead of immediate police response. We support the university in censuring hate speech that includes active and specific threats to others, but ask that this censure include restorative justice practices, in preference to academic charges and/or dismissal from enrollment.

St. Stephen’s played a small role in easing tensions during the protests of 1970, being a space where representatives of OSU, the police, Ohio National Guard, and protestors could dialogue, deescalate, and find peace. St. Stephen’s remains a place where people of all faiths can come to pray and meditate, a place where differences can be voiced and will be heard in respectful and meaningful ways, and where the ethics of nonviolence and peace-making are upheld.

Faithfully,

The Rev. Karl Stevens

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