Is the Holland Christian Community Ready?

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Wayne Brouwer, Hope College
Dr. Charles Green, Hope College
Professor Vanessa Greene, Hope College
Professor Amy Otis - De Grau, Hope College
Professor John Yelding, Hope College

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Recently, both Hope College and the city of Holland have tackled the thorny issue of homosexuality. The conversations in the city and on the campus have connected with each other in many ways. We were interested in knowing about the attitudes of city residents toward the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the community. On a Saturday and Wednesday morning in the fall of 2010, we went to the Holland Farmers’ Market and asked a variety of people, “Should homosexuality be accepted in our community?” We then asked whether they made their decision based on religious beliefs or on social or political perspectives, philosophical views, etc. Of the 80 people interviewed, 72 agreed with, and eight disagreed with, the acceptance of homosexuality. Those who agreed based their reasoning on political, social, and philosophical ideas. However, the eight people who disagreed had some religious basis for their decision. We also interviewed with a local Catholic priest, a local Episcopalian priest, and a local Reformed Church in America pastor. They disagreed as to whether the church should accept homosexual behavior. Nonetheless, they all argued that a person of homosexual orientation should never be turned away from God, and that he or she must be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. However, the Holland community—at least that part of the community that shops at the Farmers’ Market—believe that homosexuality should be accepted, acknowledged, and respected. Our findings suggest that there could be on-going tensions between a large segment of the Holland community and some, perhaps a majority, of its religious leaders.

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