After a performance at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, Americana musician, Josh Ritter, took to social media to express his displeasure at Messiah’s community covenant, which requires students to abstain from, “such sinful practices as… homosexual behavior.” Ritter said on his Facebook page that while he did perform at Messiah, he, “…chose to use the opportunity to talk to the students – to encourage them to seek openness and change. I spoke honestly about my personal views – that we should all have the right to love – and to marry freely, no matter what our sexual orientation. Everyone was respectful and kind, and it is my hope that they’ll continue to demand a change to the Community Covenant.”
Ritter also reported that he is donated the fee which he received from Messiah College to The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention LGBTQ advocacy group. He said that he will not play at Messiah College again until they, “…welcome, in word and deed, all members of their faith regardless of sexuality, and I urge my fellow musicians to do the same.”
Messiah College’s LGBTQ hostile culture has caused controversy in the past. In 2011, freshman Isaiah Thomas transferred out of the school after being harassed by students and faculty, being called an “abomination,” by a professor, and receiving a death threat online.
In 2008, Messiah College was criticized by the LGBTQ activism group, Soulforce, for holding a “Compassion Forum,” despite having policies discriminating against LGBTQ students.