As an adoptee and adoptive father who was conceived in rape, I challenged students to see the most vulnerable, the most marginalized, and the most powerless among us as having equal intrinsic worth and God-given Purpose.
Six days later, I was severely denounced by a campus-wide email sent out by two Wheaton staff members and signed by three student government leaders. My entire message was branded as “offensive rhetoric” that made “many students, staff and faculty of color” feel “unsafe” on their campus. And now, the school has cancelled the College Republicans’ next event, because leadership claims their speaker approval process needs to change so Wheaton students aren’t exposed to such factivism (aka truth) again.
Bomberger said the response was disappointing, particularly from a Christian school: “It’s one thing to have a different opinion about something but to so clearly demonize me … and then to send it out to the entire school with no other perspectives provided … I was really thrown.”
According to a report in WORLD Magazine, Paul Chelsen, Wheaton’s vice president for student development, defended the college’s decision to allow student leaders to send out the campus-wide email, saying, “we affirm their right and responsibility as elected student leaders to do so.” When asked why Bomberger’s speech triggered a campus-wide email, but Yancy’s didn’t, Chelsen said that in Yancy’s case, faculty members invited him to campus, and were responsible for any follow-up. However, a student group, College Republicans, had invited Bomberger to Wheaton, so student leaders responded.
That explains why the response came from different sources. But it completely fails to explain why a racist, ungodly speech was praised by both Wheaton students and faculty, while a godly, prolife speech was condemned by students and faculty alike, as Wheaton’s administration stood by silently. I contacted Wheaton’s director of media relations, LaTonya Taylor, for an explanation and was told I would have one by 3:00 p.m. today, but at 3:40 still had no answer.
As missionary to South Africa, Seth Meyers, wrote today in an email to the college, “As long as no voice from within Wheaton openly opposes their critique, it will continue to be viewed as the official position of the college.” Meyers added:
Wheaton college has approved of George Yancy’s positions the same way Jehoshaphat approved of king Ahaziah in 2 Chron. 20:35-37. Wheaton subsequently discouraged the work of a black man working on behalf of black babies.
Below is a montage of excerpts from Yancy’s speech that was posted by the Radiance Foundation. It’s painful to listen to, and as you’ll hear, doesn’t lead to reconciliation, but only bitter and angry conflict. It actually made me cry. I hate racism. But bringing in a profane man who believes the worst about every white person, and gets them to believe the same about themselves, is not the solution.
I’m also posting below Meyers’s entire email with his permission. I encourage other concerned friends of Wheaton to follow Meyer’s lead. I believe President Ryken is a godly man. Why these things continue to happen on his watch is beyond me.
From: Seth Meyers
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2019 2:17 AM
Cc: Philip Ryken
Subject: Concerns for Wheaton College
Dear Dr. Ryken, Dr. Diddams, and Wheaton College,
My wife and I left the Chicago area 15 years ago to learn a tribal language and live in a poor village in rural Africa. For years, scores of black people have happily eaten at our table and slept in our house, including Tuesday this week. By God’s grace we have seen more than 100 evident conversions from among the poorest people. We have also been on Wheaton’s campus several times and spoken with some of the lecturers.
When I heard some time ago about Ryan Bomberger’s courageous and loving ministry to save all babies and especially black babies from being murdered, I thanked God. Is he not simply applying Scripture to the present day pagan practice of infanticide?
How distressing then, but sadly not surprising, to see the dishonorable and cowardly treatment he was given in public by some staff, faculty, and students of a historically Christian institution. As long as no voice from within Wheaton openly opposes their critique, it will continue to be viewed as the official position of the college: Conservative views will be slowly dismissed and mockery of conservative views will have administrative sanction.
Wheaton college has approved of George Yancy’s positions the same way Jehoshaphat approved of king Ahaziah in 2 Chron. 20:35-37. Wheaton subsequently discouraged the work of a black man working on behalf of black babies. Must Mr. Bomberger go on with his work without the grace of Wheaton’s leadership openly, publicly, explicitly endorsing his devotion to saving lives and stemming the flow of infant blood? Must he endure religiously motivated sophistry (The Record article for example) of those drunk on contemporary worldliness at the institution over which you have been given a brief window of leadership? If this is merely free speech, then would the college take an equally permissive glance at an article promoting eugenics or apartheid?
I am ashamed for this historically Christian college to stand openly with the friends of Cultural Marxists. What would Dr. Blanchard or Dr. Stedman say were they to wake from their sleep to watch the unfolding parody of Christian injustice perpetrated in the name of “social justice” against a man willing to speak for the innocents?
If this is a small issue, then why not openly apologize? If this is a big issue, then why cannot Wheaton show us all the example of moral courage that our weak society needs? If this issue is “complicated” then isn’t that really another way of saying, “We are not strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”? Paul answered complicated issues in 1 Corinthians 5 before he had even arrived at the church. Elijah did not entertain multiple perspectives with the prophets of Baal. Samuel cut up Agag’s body in the presence of the king who should have done it. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in their presence without any mitigating, academic nuance. Is Wheaton a model for us and our children of this Christian virtue?
To resolve this complaint, I request that the college officially apologize for the disgraceful lack of discernment that some students and faculty showed by publicly opposing a key conductor in the modern underground railroad. Silence to this request will be one more piece of evidence in a growing compendium that Wheaton’s new endorsements of cultural marxism, homosexuality, evolution, Christian exclusivism, and feminism are the official stances of this previously reputable, Christian institution.
Pastor and churchplanter among the Tsongas of South Africa
After publication, I received the following from Wheaton Spokesperson LaTonya Taylor in response to my question, “What do you say to alumni who are alarmed that Bomberger’s expletive-free and pro-life talk sparked protest, but Yancy’s profane and to some — racist — talk was seemingly embraced?”:
It is not true that Dr. Yancy’s talk was embraced. Many members of the campus community found some of Dr. Yancy’s comments challenging—even disturbing—while others did not. There were some very heated conversations, and there was dissent. The Provost and other faculty members conducted extensive follow-up discussions with students, faculty members and other inquirers over the weeks that followed.
As a reminder, Wheaton College is unequivocally pro-life. (Earlier this year, the College won a five-year legal battle for the right to carry out its religious mission without fear of government fines.) As part of our Community Covenant, members of the College community commit to “uphold the God-given worth of human beings, from conception to death, as the unique image-bearers of God.” Every student, faculty member, staff member and employee signs this commitment every year. It is a requirement in order to work, teach, or study at Wheaton. To our knowledge, students did not express disagreement with Mr. Bomberger’s pro-life stance.
Wheaton welcomes challenging ideas and sees them as an important part of the learning process. We regularly have speakers on campus whose ideas generate disagreement and discussion. We hope our campus continues to be a place for these kinds of discussions.
We’re saddened that our elected student leaders’ empathy expressed to their fellow students in a peer-to-peer message (before it was publicized by Mr. Bomberger) has become a proxy for the “snowflake” and “safe space” narratives many detractors invoke about higher education. Our students are engaged, committed leaders who love Christ and serving others. They are learning how to lead, and we seek to create an environment where they can do so.