November 14, 2008
Oklahoma Baptist University students, faculty and staff gathered Thursday, Nov. 13, in the university's Geiger Center to discuss responses and express opinions about the recent historical presidential election. More than 100 members of OBU's community discussed different political issues, questioned how Christians should respond to the election and conversed about the monumental election of Senator Barack Obama.
The forum included an eight-member panel including campus minister Dale Griffin, student government association president D.H. Dilbeck, senior vice president for academic affairs Dr. Debbie Blue, assistant professor of anthropology Dr. Timothy McCollum, Ruth Dickinson associate professor of religion Dr. Bobby Kelly, junior news and information major Demetrius Hicks, senior anthropology major Caroline Patterson and Monica Mullins, assistant dean of enrollment management and director of student success.
"We must celebrate what is good with something tremendously positive," Kelly said. "The election of an African American as president of the United States is a great moment in itself whether you agree or disagree with the policies of Barack Obama. Certainly we are required by Romans 13:1 to pray for our leaders."
Kelly and McCollum shared opening statements to begin the forum, emphasizing the necessity of praying for and supporting America's leaders.
"We should all aspire to be our best Christian selves, to make meaningful relationships with those around us, to work to embrace the historical moment for what it means as a symbolic statement of validation and inclusion both here and abroad," McCollum said.
One student asked the panel if past elections garnered extreme reactions similar to what students have experienced this year. Blue recalled her personal experience from fourth grade regarding responses to the election of John F. Kennedy.
"I remember the rhetoric was every bit as vitriolic as this has been," Blue said. "This is nothing new, it is historic, but it's happened before, and it will happen again."
Students also asked questions concerning how Christians should respond to different issues addressed through the election.
"If you're asking, ‘What would Jesus do?' we know what Jesus would do," Kelly said. "He would be out trying to overturn the structures in society that cause oppression in people. If you get down to it, Jesus was about justice."
Those in attendance were encouraged throughout the forum to continue to pray for leaders in office representing all political affiliations.
"I would urge you to pray for our president that he will be successful," said Dr. Carol Humphrey, OBU professor of history. "I would encourage you to notice and remember how amazing this event is. We have come so far, but we have a long way to go still. We need to keep working it out."
The forum closed with Blue challenging the OBU community to put aside judgments of differences, and for each person to continue to build community among their peers.