A local college professor previously teaching at Johnson Bible College, located in South Knox County, has publicly outed himself in an effort to draw attention to his belief that the church is prejudiced against homosexuals.
John Rumple resigned his position as professor of New Testament studies, a position he has held since 2003. Rumple is a Johnson Bible College graduate as well.
Readers may recall that it was a Johnson Bible College student who was responsible for the arson that destroyed Town and Country Adult Book Den on Clinton Highway. (See East Tennessee briefs for an update on that story.)
In a letter issued recently to the president, trustees, faculty, staff, and students of the college, Rumple said, “It is critical that the church starts paying attention to what the Holy Spirit is doing in the lives of gay people. . . . I can only hope that my ministry here during these past three years causes some to seriously reconsider what the church assumes to be true of gay people.”
The professor had to remain deeply closeted on the job due to the college’s policy of exclusion toward GLBT student, faculty, or staff. Johnson Bible College is part of the Stone-Campbell movement of churches, allied with the Christian Church and fundamentalist Church of Christ.
Citing ignorance and prejudice on the issue of homosexuality, Rumple said that, “The church has it wrong about gay people,” and that its “facile” view of homosexuals was due to “a serious lack of interest in scholarly investigation of the Bible,” something he hopes to combat by coming out.
Rumple further notes that he has lived with his partner for five years as he sought to remain faithful to his spiritual path and his identity as a gay man. He is now in his final year of study toward a Ph.D. in the New Testament at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
In an effort to fight what he calls “the faulty interpretation of those biblical texts which supposedly condemn all gay people for all time,” John Rumple has initiated a Web site with the goal of providing spiritual support for gay Christians and to help all Christians overcome their homophobia. Visit his site located online at www.outofcontext.us.