Eugene Cho

obama hung in effigy at christian college

This is hard to read.  Hard to swallow.  Hard to understand…especially when it happens at a Christian university such as George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon [20 miles SW of Portland].  From numerous respected accounts, I have only heard good things about the university so I share this news not in any way to condemn the university – the institution, the faculty, or the students.

Early Tuesday morning [September 23], a life sized cardboard effigy of Senator Barack Obama was found hanging from a tree in front of one of the school buildings.  Truly disturbing.  [h/t Jelani Greenidge]

While we ought to genuinely celebrate the historic elements of this presidential election year which includes Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Sarah Palin, this horrible news is another reminder that we still have a long way to go.  Is it simply because they are not like “me” and thus, they must be different…and thus, the other…leading to the “otherizing” – in this case, Obama?

Rural or urban, Christian or secular, male or female, young or old, Republican or Democrat … we still have a long way to go.  We have work ahead.

I have nothing insightful to write.  I simply want to implore you to be reminded and revitalized by the ONE who reconciles us and invites us to the work of reconciliation:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Here’s the article from the Oregon Live.

A likeness of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was found hanging in the George Fox University quad early Tuesday along with graffiti aimed at minority recipients of a scholarship program, the university president told The Oregonian this morning.

President Robin Baker discussed the incident this morning during the twice-weekly campus service, which was packed. With dozens of Act 6 students and student leaders in front of the stage, he denounced the display and urged students to show that such a display has no place in Christian ideals.

“We absolutely cannot hate those around us and say we love God,” he said. “It is not possible.”

“Yesterday was not a good example of what it means to follow Jesus,” he said.

Quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, the president said the university has long had difficulties recruiting nonwhite students and his dream has been to help create a university that “more broadly represents the kingdom of God.” [read full article]

Other news sources:  Newsday; KGW.com; George Fox Press Releases

[This post was written and published originally for Sojourners]

Filed under: politics, religion, ,

40 Responses

  1. Kenny Ahn says:

    This is so disheartening…..

  2. Tomas says:

    “Hard to understand…”

    Why? Prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance run in the veins of Christians as well. At times, even more so.

  3. Ginny says:

    You’re exactly right, hard to swallow and hard to understand. There is much work to be done. Thank you for drawing this to our attention.

  4. I can only hope that this generates some good publicity for the ActSix program and the students therein. I feel bad for the incoming class of ActSix scholars, though. Two weeks in, and it’s ‘welcome to the fishbowl.’ In whatever way one can hope to be prepared for this, I hope that they were.

  5. one other thing that was weird… through a bizarre turn of events, I was pretty close to being on campus that morning (yesterday morning). I forgot to post this on my own blog, but I had a presentation at a high school in Newport, Oregon, and I was going to stay with some mutual friends at GF the night before so I wouldn’t have to drive down I-5 during rush hour.

    Weird.

  6. Tyler says:

    I graduated from George Fox less than 2 years ago. I know the university to be on that is greatly white, but that embraces and pursues multi cultural influences. They have a better emphasis on this than any other Christian college that I know of.

    I’m saddened by this. I do not think it reflects anything about the school itself though.

  7. Sounds like the school responded pretty well. My guess is that 99 percent of the student body was outraged by the incident.

  8. alliehope says:

    Truly disturbing–not just disheartening. Yet another example of the racism that lies beneath the facade of some who dare to take the name “Christ-follower” for themselves. May God have mercy on those who did this. It’s sad that this should happen, since all it does is perpetuate the stereotype of Christians as narrow-minded, bigoted and judgmental. You are right, Ginny; for as much progress as we have made, there is still far more work to be done.

  9. Flora says:

    I went to George Fox–graduated in 2003. We had a small, small handful of minority students. I would never dare tell others about my minority scholarships because of the hateful and back-handed comments I would recieve. I never knew the meaning of “hate” until I went to that school.

    Their “bubble” needs to be popped.

    Where is the multi-cultural office in all of this? They need to step-up and take some authority on this issue. I am tired of them sitting back and taking issues on one at a time rather than making multi-culturalism a part of everday life…so it is not such an alien concept on “multi-cultural days”.

    Rant, rant, rant.

  10. Andrea says:

    I went to a college near George Fox a decade ago and a good friend of mine was attacked and beaten in a racially motivated hate crime perpetrated by the “locals”. This doesn’t surprise me that something like this could happen in that area.

  11. Tomas says:

    Here’s a statement from the GFU College Republicans:

    It is with my deepest regret that I feel the need to address the incident that has recently plagued this campus. It has been in the Republican tradition to support those persecuted against. We are the party of abolition; the party of the Civil Rights movement. What happened on campus this week is disheartening to American politics. Regardless of your politics, this act of hate cannot be tolerated. We at George Fox are a moderate and close-knit culture. It is important that we not let this uncharacteristic event taint our reputation. The GFU College Republicans have been encouraging the creation of a College Democrats group and find that now, more than ever, this should be pursued. We believe in a civil political dialogue between both parties in which students can objectively decide their platforms. Our heart goes out to the Act Six scholarship recipients and the GFU faculty who have had to address this unfortunate issue.
    John Archibald
    Chairman, GFU College Republicans

  12. Thanks for sharing this. Let’s hope this is not a sign for the times to come. This is not the way to make a statement.

    I was scared for Obama talking in front of the big crowd in Denver.

    Yes we are all very passionate about these elections, but certain borders should just not be crossed.

  13. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Thanks for sharing this story. Back in my seminary days, we experienced similar acts of racial hatred (for us it was people scrawling hate messages on the doors of African, African American and Asian American students). So, no, I’m not necessarily surprised that this could happen at a Christian school but I am still disgusted by this kind of ignorance and cowardice.

  14. dustin says:

    Jeez that is ridiculous. Thanks for sharing that!

  15. […] When I got home and tuned in to blog land and was greeted with more racist information about the good people of America.  If you’d like to read more, take a look at Obama Hung In Effigy At Christian College […]

  16. Kari Byrd says:

    So, so sad. It’s heartbreaking.

  17. LuRain Penny says:

    Make me ashamed I ever lived there.

    But let’s not forget, the largest group of Ku Klux Klanners in the country around the 20’s, outside of the South, was Portland, Oregon.
    Race riots in the 60’s and dead opposums on doorsteps….

    Underneath it’s homey exterior, is a tough anti-social belly.
    The bigger the front, the bigger the back.

  18. eugenecho says:

    hey folks,

    as i shared in my post, i have no desire to condemn anyone associated with george fox. i’m sure, as rachel shared in an earlier comment, 99% of the students/admin are appalled by the effigy.

    but it happened. we have to condemn the act and those who did. whoever they may be. talk has circulated about conspiracies, rumors, and the like but unless they have some clear fingerprints, the investigation will be inconclusive.

    bigotry lurks everywhere.

    and despite what one commentor on the sojourner’s blog, i have no agenda. it just upset me immensely. here’s the comment:

    “First, I don’t think that Blue Deacon should be accusing the College Republicans of anything. This is not 1964, and George Fox is not Philadelphia, Mississippi, of 1964, and I think it is unfortunate to have someone on this blog smear young people he does not even know or has met. And Blue Deacon has smeared these young people.

    Second, these incidents on college campuses often are hoaxes, and I would urge people not to jump to any conclusions. All too often, these campus “incidents” are like the Reichstag Fire in which the people who supposedly are “targeted” are the actual perpetrators. Who knows what it was here, but I would urge people to be careful before doing like Blue Deacon and smearing others.

    Mr. Cho obviously has an agenda, and this incident is convenient. Of course, when Sandra Bernhard urged that Sarah Palin be gang-raped and Anne Lamott declared that God “hates” Sarah Palin, Mr. Cho was silent.

    As a college professor and one who has seen a number of campus incidents that turned out to be hoaxes, I would be careful before declaring that the College Republicans at George Fox — or any other campus group — did this. Blue Deacon declares that this was “ideological.” Gee, was he there? How does he know?”

  19. franksabunch says:

    Christianity, as an institution (as well as a faith and religion), attracts *humans*, so it is not surprising that in the Christian church you will find people who are ugly, pretty, dumb, smart, short, tall, and prejudiced. There is no antagonist to prejudice listed because we are all prejudiced. The difference is that those who a repentant shall be forgiven, and it is that forgiveness and grace which would hopefully propel us towards the llight, rather than darkness. But that doesn’t always happen, so I’m not surprised when a “Christian” person stumbles.

    That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily assume that because this occured at a Christian university that the perpetrator(s) involved is/are Christian. There are many people who don’t walk by faith who go to church on Sundays, and some of whom spend those Sundays in the pulpit, I dare say.

    Regardless, as a McCain supporter (yes, I know that automatically makes me “not cool” in mainstream society) I find this event, whether done by a Christian or not, to be offensive and sickening, as much as the aforementioned warning by Sandra Bernhard that she and her “black brothers” will gang rape Palin if she comes to NYC. People need to grow up and start acting their age on both sides of the campaign trail, but I guess you have to realize that there are dregs that come with every barrel of wine. And I do agree with the prior comment that liberals do tend to get more free passes when it comes to these kinds of things.

  20. g says:

    Sick. Repulsive. But mostly… just depressing. As Christians, we are all called to a higher standard… where was that standard at George Fox? =(

    Hopefully, God and the students at George Fox University use this event as catalyst for something positive to happen. But as others have mentioned… Oregon does have an ugly past in terms of race relations. It was a KKK stronghold back in the 1920s, and one wonders what things still linger there. Check out the banner in the back of this photo of a KKK meeting in Portland:

    http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/historical_records/dspDocument.cfm?doc_ID=417F3549-9486-7453-D7A35663D4DC0529

    “Jesus Saves”. Oh, the irony…

  21. john says:

    i’m completely disgusted by all of this. praying for peace and racial reconciliation…

  22. Wayne Park says:

    I’m somewhat surprised @ the response from sojourners which is a GREAT reputable blog. But then again it was just a commenter. I think it skews Eugene as having an agenda (when it comes to race, how can you not have an agenda if you are ethnic) – of course we hv an agenda, it involves our people. Nonetheless, I think the commenting prof misunderstands that no one’s blaming the Republican Club. Perhaps a previous commenter @ Sojourners wuz.

    But the issue must be named. It cannot be ignored and the hanging of Obama in effigy is a serious thing, any sane human being should be concerned w/o being labeled as “having an agenda”. The gang-raping of Palin – somehow is just a strange parallel, but ok, that’s wrong too, if that’s what you want to hear.

    Either way, it’s our prerogative to point out what we believe is wrong and somehow I think an effigy-burning ranks as worse than talking about fantasy gang-rape. There’s something more intentioned about setting something on fire, something almost criminal.

    Man, chatty this evening, am I. Sorry missed your chat today PE.. will get in touch tomorrow…

  23. Sam says:

    I, as a current student at George Fox, am very upset not only at the act itself, but at the assumptions that will be made of the University and its’ students because of the after-effect. One of my best friends is in the Act Six program and it angers me that anyone would ever make such a blatantly racist statement.

    It also sucks for those of us who are Christians and tolerant of what others believe, but automatically get thrown in with ultraconservative racist scum.

    My, oh my, it sometimes sucks being a moderate.

  24. eugenecho says:

    @sam,

    thanks for dropping by the blog. this must be an incredibly difficult time for you and the rest of the GF community.

    while condemning the horrific and idiotic act of the effigy, assumptions about the school and it’s community should not be made. but yet, i hope that one’s initial response won’t be denial or defensivenss but rather, seeking opportunities to further commit ourselves to dialogue and the ministry of reconciliation. give my best to the students at george fox.

    e

  25. nearlynormalized says:

    I know the change is coming and it is hard for the ignorant to make a change. Say your prayers and protect the next President of the United State of America.

  26. Jim Dekker says:

    It’s very sad! Its easy to just “slam the fool” that did it. Our business is to work for their transformation. Jesus came for the sick. Sometimes the ‘sick’ among us puke up vile on our campuses. We need to get dirty and busy in that mess. Eugene, thanks for your work in this direction.

  27. steadycat says:

    I was very shocked when I read your article. I have mentioned this page on my blog. Thank you for the information and for being the type christian that speaks love.

  28. mattozan says:

    Emancipation and the Civil Rights Movement didn’t happen very long ago–it just seems like it because I’m young enough to be separated from it by a generation or two.

    http://www.withoutsanctuary.org taught me more than any American history class about how normal acts like this were in our country, in a time not at all far removed from today.

  29. Dara says:

    Sigh…And I’m beginning to see why Christians are not respected anymore, when people act like this.

    As much as I disagree with Obama’s stance on many issues and that I won’t be voting for him, this is just uncalled for. Not something that should EVER be happening anymore, especially on a Christian campus.

  30. […] obama hung in effigy at christian college This is hard to read.  Hard to swallow.  Hard to understand…especially when it happens at a Christian […] […]

  31. […] Uncategorized What a disturbing story.  Earlier this week at a Christian college in Oregon, an effigy of Sen. Obama was found hanging from a tree.  Hanging people from trees again, huh???  Why is it that we who are labeled “socialists, […]

  32. As a Christian, I feel sad about it. The more I am compelled to pray for racial reconciliation not only in America but for the entire world.

  33. RB says:

    Ignorance is blind! I am an MDiv student at Geo. Fox Seminary and am deeply saddened by the actions of one or two individuals who are obviously ignorant to the need for racial reconciliation in our world. We have been having deep discussions in each class today about this act of utter ignorance. However the thing we need to fully grasp is that ignorance as well as racism know no borders. We do need to stand up as a church…all faiths need to do this so that we light a flame that will never be extinguished. The main thing we have to keep centered in all of this is it is not Sens. Obama and McCain who will lead us through the scourge of hatred and ignorance…it is the God that loves us and yes even the ignorant, mislead, fallen, young person(s) who disgraced our faith with whatever statement they were trying to make.

  34. SK says:

    This should never happen anywhere. It is a sad testament to the latent racism in our society, often bolstered (intentionally or unintentionally) by Christian theology. I would hope Christian leaders would speak up against these kinds of actions and call the Church back to the ministry of reconciliation that is so important and vital at this time. The silence of Christian leaders on this will be quite deafening, if in fact they choose to ignore this.

  35. […] Regardless of your political or ideological views, what happened last week with the hanging of the Obama effigy at George Fox University was downright disturbing and disgusting.  All folks – including Christians – should have been […]

  36. J. R. Miller says:

    Is there any evidence that this was done by a student of the University?

  37. J. R. Miller says:

    Ah… I found the news article where the 4 students confessed. How very sad and horrible.

  38. peter alcantara says:

    yes I just read this story about Palin being hung in effigy and when searching for more info came across this article and others about Obama being hung in effigy….all of these are disgusting acts and should be punished. Free speech is one thing but this intolerance for those that do not share our views is destroying this country. I don’t want Obama to be president based on his policies and ideas not for who he is or the color of his skin. I wouldn’t vote for Gore either.

    http://www.freedomvaluesrights.com/?p=574

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Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

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