Op-Ed: Pacific Lutheran must change its name

A massive game of tug-of-war is happening on Pacific Lutheran University’s campus and it is not going to end with one side pulling the other over the middle line. It is going to end with something much more drastic — PLU must change its name.

A couple weeks ago during the student body presidential elections, a candidate was outcast for his comments against gender-neutral housing. He said he did not believe it was in “God’s plan.”

Campus ministry supported the candidates statement, the overwhelming majority of the student body did not. He lost the election a few days later.

PLU is becoming a significantly liberal campus. The expression of gay rights is encouraged. The legalization of marijuana in November was rejoiced. And chapel every Monday, Wednesday and Friday — what is that?

The massive shift to the left comes as no surprise though. Located in Tacoma, PLU rests in the shadow of one of the most liberal cities in the country, Seattle.

Washington legalized gay marriage in November largely because of heavy support from King County and others on the west side of the state.

Liberalism is the way of the region, but it is not the way of the Christian church. The same Christian church PLU affiliates itself with in its middle name, Lutheran.

The Bible explicitly speaks against same-sex marriage. PLU is starting to welcome it.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is also taught in the Bible but as long as the Christian and Lutheran church fail to explicitly support gay marriage, something must change.

So it comes as no surprise this tug-of-war game is happening. And the left side is winning. It will continue to win until the Lutheran is taken out of PLU’s name.

A change in name will not end the debate. It is a college campus littered with young and growing minds that will make their voices heard about controversial topics. The change in name will remove the university itself and the administration from the debate.

It is the university’s job to offer what is best for its students and prepare us for our future, not to be involved in the gay rights debate. An impartial administration is an effective one. The individuals that run this campus are given the right by birth to believe what they choose, but as a whole they need to be neutral, with the improvement of student’s experience being its overwhelming concern. The school’s middle name disallows that, leaving administration on the right.

The university should not be concerned or involved with gay rights. It needs to be concerned with lowering tuition and creating an improved experience for students.

PLU’s current name is not representative of the school and its beliefs.

The tug-of-war will continue until the rope snaps and the Christian church welcomes gay marriage or until PLU changes its identity. No need for a major face lift though.

PLU is known throughout the region as, well, PLU. So leave it that way and change the now controversial middle name.

Pacific Liberal University.

Categories: Academics, Opinion, Student Life

5 replies

  1. There really is no reason to change the name of PLU. Students understand that religion will be a driving force for what PLU supports before they are even admitted.

    Although administration should constantly be trying to improve the student experience, it is also expected that religious beliefs can influence those decisions, which is OK. This is a private school, and gets to operate as it wants. There are many universities that cost less than half of what PLU does, so everyone who is here WANTS to be here.

    There’s no reason for thousands of people to choose to be here when there are much cheaper options, and then expect PLU to change its beliefs based on their whims.

  2. One important detail to note is that PLU is associated with the ECLA, the more liberal denomiantion of Lutheranism.

  3. @Brandon correct, and the PLU changes its policy in tandem, usually, with changes in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) as a national entity. The ELCA as a whole has made pro LGBTQ policy changes, so there’s actually a lot of harmony between the church and the student body and regional ideology.

    Sounds to me like Thomas Kim’s (The ASPLU Senator’s) opinion was actually an outlier.

  4. Being Liberal and being Lutheran are not two opposing forces. You don’t have to be conservative to be Lutheran. And being Lutheran doesn’t make you conservative. I am very disappointed in reading this article, as the author clearly generalizes Liberalism and Lutheranism within the narrow context of gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana. You’ve got to be kidding me.

    PLU is not a seminary, and doesn’t act like one. This institution is built on the educational principles of Lutheran Higher Education, and does not conform to strict religious rules. This is a liberal arts university. Surely, you would know that by simply googling PLU. If you didn’t do your research before coming here, you have no right to complain. Do not put PLU in a “tug-of-war” construct, and do not attempt to redefine what it means to be Lutheran.

    This university strives for the acceptance of all people, and the forward progression of social, political, and educational change. For the author to suggest PLU change its name, justified by the campus culture towards gay marriage, is a slap in the face to everyone who contributes to this great university. I could not be more offended, both as a Lute and a gay man.

  5. I’m curious as to where you got that Campus Ministry supported Kim’s statement. At least one person involved in Campus Ministry signed the letter in the Daily Flyer attacking Kim for his views on gender-neutral housing, though I’m not sure if that was in their capacity as a member of Campus Ministry or not.

    Reno, Brandon and Kameron are right in regards to the ELCA’s view on homosexuality. You might find this Mast article interesting – it talks about how PLU’s University Congregation is working to become a part of ReconcilingWorks, an organization within the ELCA that actively strives to make Lutheran congregations more open and welcoming to people of all sexual orientations and identities. http://mast.plu.edu/2013/03/campus-religious-group-reaches-out-to.html

    You should also be careful about making statements like “The Bible explicitly speaks against same-sex marriage.” Although many denominations interpret the Bible as such and Christianity has come to be associated with homophobia, this is not really true. The Bible DOES say that sodomy is a sin, but it also says that for a menstruating woman to go out in public is a sin, too. Old Jewish laws are taken out of context and conflated and taken to be the law of the land – a far cry from “explicitly speaking against.”

    I agree that PLU is a very liberal school, but I don’t think this is incompatible with our Lutheran heritage.

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