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September 16, 2018

Interoffice memo FROM: Jesus Christ TO: Clarks Summit University, formerly operating as Baptist Bible College. CC: God the Father and the Holy Spirit. All: As you know, I don’t often intercede in the management of affiliates. You all have a guide book to work with and I was abundantly clear about how you all should treat each other — love thy neighbor, judge not lest ye be judged, etc. I died for these ideas. The least you can do is live up to them. In my Twitter feed this morning — the Caesar in the White House makes my participation necessary — I saw the hashtag #LetGaryGraduate. It seemed more positive than most of what I witness on “social” media, so I clicked it. Given my omnipotence, it’s hard to shock me. Yet here was a story about Gary Campbell, a 35-year-old Ohio man, Navy veteran and recovering alcoholic trying to turn his life around and help others. The kid has made some bad choices but seems sincere about redeeming himself. Do I really need to remind you that redemption is Our Thing? Gary needs six credits to finish a bachelor’s degree so he can get a job helping other addicts find their way back to me. And you turned him away because he’s gay. Because of the way God made him. The way I made him. Why would I create Children of God and command their brothers and sisters to shun them? Where is the love or logic in that? I understand there’s some confusion down there about my stance on homosexuals — whether it’s a sin, yada, yada. I assumed that everything I said about treating ALL PEOPLE with love, generosity and dignity covered these smaller questions, but what do I know? I’m just God. In the story, Gary is quoted making a plea I would never have rejected: “I ask that you not view me only as a homosexual, but as a determined, compassionate, hardworking man who is of good moral character,” he said. “My goal again is to assist my community and help those who are struggling in the grip of addiction.” This is where I want to address The Big Picture: Stop obsessing over my words to the point where you no longer hear what I said. Would the world be a better place with Gary in it, helping others exorcise their demons? Would that service not advance my mission? Of course it would. Gary’s sexual identity — which by the way is none of your business — has no bearing on the potential good Gary can do In My Name. His goal is to do God’s work. You chose to make that harder for him. The choice was yours to make. Just don’t claim you made it In My Name. Like I said, I’m not a micromanager, but you really need to consider how this choice reflects on the faith. We could really use some good public relations right about now. Also, the university name change hasn’t worked any miracles for your enrollment, which dropped almost 50 percent from 2000 to 2016. You have no business turning students away. Bless Lackawanna College, which wasted no time reaching out to help Gary meet his goals. I hope you’re taking notes. You could learn a lot about faith, hope and charity from Mark Volk and the welcoming souls over on Vine Street. I’ll wrap up this sermon by saying that I love you, and I forgive you for gettiing this one wrong. Just try to be better next time, and keep in mind that how you treat each other is how you treat me. Don’t make me come down there. CHRIS KELLY, the Times-Tribune columnist, is thankful to have a Sunday off. Contact the writer: kellysworld@ timesshamrock.com, @cjkink on Twitter. Read his award-winning blog at timestribuneblogs.com/kelly.

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