Once again, Point Loma Nazarene University's acceptance of gay people is called into question by its own students (2024)


A decision by Point Loma Nazarene University to limit the screening of a documentary about the Bible and hom*osexuality has angered students who say the move was disrespectful to the gay community and is having a chilling effect on free speech and academic inquiry.

The outcry is the latest in a series of controversies that have strained relations between the small, private Christian school above Sunset Cliffs and members and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.

For the record:

1:01 p.m. April 20, 2024In an earlier version of this story, Jake Gilbertson’s first name was spelled incorrectly. The error has been fixed.

The tension also comes as the reclusive university, an affiliate of the Church of the Nazarene, is trying to hire a new leader, and is considering asking the public and industry for millions of dollars in donations to help it thrive and expand.

The new controversy involves a little-known documentary that challenges the idea that the Bible teaches that hom*osexuality is a sin, based on what the film argues is a mistranslation that has fueled a Christian anti-gay movement.


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1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture” focuses on how the word “hom*osexual” was translated by biblical scholars when it was added to the Revised Standard Version Bible for the first time in 1946. Translators removed the word in 1971 and replaced it with “sexual perverts,” which the film says has not helped.

Voices of Love, an LGBTQ+ group at PLNU, scheduled a public screening of the movie for April 4 at Crill Performance Center. But three days prior, the group said, the university told them to cancel it.

Administrators partly blamed themselves for the move, saying that they had failed to pre-screen the movie. PLNU also said it didn’t have enough staff available for the event.

But students seemed more concerned by a third reason given by Mary Paul, vice president for student life.

In an email to The Point, the campus newspaper that first reported on the controversy, Paul said that staging a campus-wide screening on a work of biblical translation would require the presence of scholars and theologians who could offer differing conclusions.

This alluded to the school’s affiliation with the Church of the Nazarene, which believes that sex should occur only between a man and a woman. University policy bars hiring faculty or staff who disclose that they are in a same-sex marriage.

The university allowed Voices of Love to screen the documentary in a comparatively small room. About 90 people from throughout the campus showed up to that screening Wednesday.

But the student group objects to the university placing limits on its right to explore the topic more publicly, and to question the church’s teaching on LGBT people.

“I think those in power are afraid of what it would mean to be wrong,” said Sarah Bell, who co-leads VOL with fellow students Ellie Carlson and Karissa Cloyes. “To realize that perhaps a foundational belief of yours is grounded in something entirely unbiblical and unloving presents a whole can of worms that many would choose not to open.”

Once again, Point Loma Nazarene University's acceptance of gay people is called into question by its own students (2)

Point Loma Nazarene University President Bob Brower, seen greeting students on campus on March 11, declined to comment on the issue.

(Alejandro Tamayo/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

To Bell, the university’s decision seems rooted in fear.

“God calls us to move beyond such fear to live a fuller life in Christ,” she said. “Currently, the institution at large does not wish to overcome fear because fear is essential for maintaining power and control.”

Speaking collectively in an emailed statement, Bell, Carlson and Cloyes said the campus LGBTQ+ community “experience constant alienation and adversity unfamiliar to the majority of the student body.”

They pointed, too, to recent upheaval on campus caused by other crackdowns on demonstrations of support for LGBTQ+ people over the past year.

Those incidents included the firing of theology dean Mark Maddix in a complicated dispute involving his support of a former adjunct teacher who had publicly expressed support for the LGBTQ+ people.

A short time later, Seldon “Dee” Kelley III, a senior pastor at a Nazarene church on campus, lost his job for publicly disagreeing with the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

“It appears that both staff and faculty find themselves uncertain about the boundaries of acceptable discourse,” Bell, Carlson and Cloyes said. “This lack of clarity also impacts the student body, creating an environment where some may feel emboldened to openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals.”

Charis Johnston, editor of The Point, also said the controversies had had a chilling impact on people’s free speech.

“Many staff and faculty don’t want to talk on the record, particularly surrounding coverage of LGBTQ+ issues, and if they do it’s political, careful, scripted,” she said.

PLNU President Bob Brower, who will retire in June, declined to discuss these issues with the Union-Tribune.

A campus spokesman said that Paul and Jake Gilbertson, the dean of students, also were not available for interviews.

Once again, Point Loma Nazarene University's acceptance of gay people is called into question by its own students (2024)


Once again, Point Loma Nazarene University's acceptance of gay people is called into question by its own students? ›

A decision by Point Loma Nazarene University to limit the screening of a documentary about the Bible and hom*osexuality has angered students who say the move was disrespectful to the gay community and is having a chilling effect on free speech and academic inquiry.

What is the point Loma controversy? ›

An LGBTQ+ group claims Point Loma Nazarene University fired two faculty members for their progressive views on human sexuality. POINT LOMA, Calif. (KGTV) — An LGBTQIA+ group is calling out Point Loma Nazarene University for firing two faculty members. "I am a proud [alumnus] of PLNU," Lauren Cazares said.

Is PLNU LGBT friendly? ›

Admissions: PLNU's admissions process for all students does not discriminate against any applicant on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

What is point Loma Nazarene acceptance rate? ›

Point Loma Nazarene University is a small private university located on an urban campus in San Diego, California. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 3,174, and admissions are selective, with an acceptance rate of 84%.

What is Point Loma Nazarene University known for? ›

As a faith-based liberal arts university, PLNU offers an academic experience committed to excellence, focused on holistic student development, and rooted in a Christian understanding of the world.

Is Point Loma a dry campus? ›

Alcohol & Smoking Policy

PLNU is a smoke and tobacco free campus. The University also observes a strict no-alcohol policy.

Is Point Loma expensive? ›

At Point Loma Nazarene University, the total cost is $57,104. The net price is the average cost of the university after aid and scholarship funds are discounted from the total cost, which comes in at $36,807 for the average student receiving need-based aid.

Is it hard to get into Point Loma Nazarene? ›

The acceptance rate at Point Loma Nazarene University is 81.9%. For every 100 applicants, 82 are admitted.

How religious is Point Loma? ›

PLNU gathers for worship at least four times per week. We often get questions like “why chapel?” or “why is attending chapel required?” We are a Christian university that truly desires to invest in the spiritual growth and maturation of each student.

Is Point Loma prestigious? ›

Point Loma Nazarene University is ranked #9 out of 120 Regional Universities West. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

Is Point Loma nazarene strict? ›

The only drawback at PLNU are the strict rules, which can feel extremely limiting at times.

Are there parties at PLNU? ›

Some decent frat/house parties, weekends only. Good parties are few and far between.

Is there a dress code at PLNU? ›

Clothing should be appropriate to the occasion and in good taste, reflecting the atmosphere of vital Christianity, which is one of the basic principles of Point Loma Nazarene University.

What is the significance of Point Loma? ›

Point Loma is historically important as the landing place of the first European expedition to come ashore in present-day California. Point Loma houses two major military bases, a national cemetery, a national monument, and a university, in addition to residential and commercial areas.

Is Point Loma a good neighborhood? ›

When it comes to safety, Point Loma has a relatively low crime rate compared to other areas in San Diego. The neighborhood benefits from active community engagement and effective law enforcement, contributing to its reputation as a safe place to live.

What denomination is Point Loma Nazarene? ›

Specifically, the church is firmly Wesleyan in doctrine and evangelical in mission.


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