Religion News Service, 1/13/2009: Josh Spavin knows the stereotypes about evangelical Christians: judgmental, sanctimonious, narrow-minded. He may not buy into the image, but at the same time, he knows how real — and damaging — it can be.
So that's why Spavin, a recent graduate of the University of Central Florida and an intern with the UCF chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ International, wants to launch an HIV/AIDS outreach with a campus gay-lesbian group.
"Young evangelicals in particular are very conscious about poverty and the environment, and they tend to be more tolerant on issues such as gay rights and homosexuality," said John Turner, assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama and author of the new book, Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ:The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America . "Evangelicals and evangelical organizations, they do have a big public relations problem of being known for intolerance or homophobia or not being concerned enough about social issues, and I think their desire is to correct that image," he said.
"Students today realize that connecting to other people, that just to tell the story or talk about Christianity doesn't seem to completely connect," said Chip Scivicque, a 30-year Campus Crusade veteran who's now based at Auburn University in Alabama. "There's this desire to live out the Christian life and live out gospel truth so that when those truths are explained they make more sense."
Paul Hardaloupas, a 25-year-old Michigan State graduate who's now on staff for Campus Crusade, is planning more events for the spring semester, including one focused on rape.
Last year at Michigan State University, Campus Crusade partnered with other organizations on several events to draw attention to the international sex slave trade. The biggest event drew about 1,000 for a mock "Price-is-Right"-themed game show in which contestants bid not on prizes but people.