Church nixed helping Northwestern students because of sex toy flap
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reportersesposito@suntimes.com April 7, 2011 8:00PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Pastor Clifton Roth wasn’t even sure where to find Northwestern University on a map, when he got call from one of the school’s students last month.
But the young woman on the line seemed nice enough, and the head of Community Baptist Church in tiny Hixson, Tenn., thought there would no problem agreeing to let 14 students camp on church property while they were in town on spring break volunteering to help build a nature trail.
But the next day, Roth picked up a copy of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He came across a little story about Northwestern, one of its professors and a sex toy demonstration.
“I just felt the Lord wanted me to see that,” Roth explained by phone Thursday.
That same day, when the student, Jenny Haag, called Roth back to confirm her fellow students had a place to stay, Roth told her he couldn’t possibly have his church associated with a university that would condone a live sex-toy demonstration.
“I was absolutely stunned,” said Haag, 22. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”
After all, the students were giving up their spring break to come and work on a community project — for free.
And besides, the students — members of “Alternative Student Breaks,” which dispatches volunteers to help in a range of community projects nationwide — had nothing to do with the controversy over Professor J. Michael Bailey’s “Human Sexuality” class, Haag said.
Roth says it’s unfortunate that the students had to be “guilty by association.”
“I just decided that probably I needed to keep an arm’s length because that would put a smirch on our church,” Roth said.
In the end, the students found paid accommodation during the visit last month with the organization building the trail, Haag said.
Roth says he has no regrets about his decision, which Haag called “ridiculous.”
“We give up our spring break to volunteer and to help out in communities, and because of this one isolated incident that no one from ASB had anything to do with, the church decided they couldn’t help us,” Haag said.