This story was originally published on Aug. 27, 2013 on PennLive.
This week, hundreds of freshmen will descend on Messiah College, an interdenominational Christian college in Upper Allen Twp. where differences are “celebrated, appreciated, and allowed to remain distinct” according to the school’s admissions office.
During welcome week, as they bid mom and dad farewell, ready their ramen and deliberate on joining the ultimate frisbee or French club, each freshman will be asked to sign a code of conduct called the Messiah College Community Covenant.
In signing, students agree to follow four rules: to commit to academic integrity and excellence, express Christian values, abide the rules and avoid “sinful practices.”
Those “sinful practices” include “drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitive or abusive behavior.”
It’s the ban on “homosexual behavior” that has raised eyebrows among both students and nonstudents.
“I feel like it’s a little unnecessary,” said Adam Rineer, a gay sophomore at Messiah. “The covenant already says there is no sexual activity to be permitted on campus.”
“One of my good friends put it really well: It’s almost like saying ‘No stealing,’ but also ‘black people can’t steal,’” he said.