Today (3/14/2014) I visited Wartburg College in Waverly Iowa, an official college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A poster was up advertising the college’s Lenten services. On the poster was a picture of Jesus taking a “selfie” photo. Another picture showed Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a dinosaur. The caption read “Hey, my name is Jesus. My interests are messing with Pharisees,... riding dinosaurs, hanging out in the Wartburg Chapel during Lent…”
Also on campus were a number of posters advertising Gayla Week and Wartburg’s upcoming Drag Show on March 22nd. The show is promoted on the official Wartburg College website (wartburg.edu) as follows:
“Have you ever seen a guy do a back flip in stiletto heels? Now you will. Wartburg’s annual cabaret/drag show has become a phenomenon…About 700 people attended the performance in 2010. The show brings in professional drag queens and kings from around the state of Iowa… Wartburg is an inclusive community…The (drag show) is meant to educate the campus in a fun way about the history of drag and its importance in the LGBT culture…The Wartburg cabaret/drag show honors how the gay rights movement in the United States first began…
The website makes clear that Wartburg College is supportive of students’ sexual orientations and gender expressions. According to the student newspaper, last year’s drag show brought in over $1600.
Lastly, I stepped into Wartburg’s “Reflection Room” which “provides a quiet place for reflection, prayer or meditation…please respect the diverse traditions that are presented in this space. Enter to listen, learn and receive”. In the room was a table presenting a Bible, a Koran, a Buddha statue, a Dali Lama book and a Mwimbieni Bwana book. I couldn’t help but get the not-so-subtle message that all religions are okay. Nowhere did I see any indication of the Bible’s teaching that Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).
Wartburg College was founded in 1875 by George Grossman, who was sent by a Lutheran pastor to establish a teacher training school for German immigrants. The college is named after Wartburg Castle in Germany whereMartin Luther translated the Bible into German. If the founders of Wartburg could see what has become of their college, I believe they would weep.