An Open Letter on Biola's Commitment to the Pro-Life Cause

Aug. 20, 2013 By University Communications & Marketing

Dear Friends in the Pro-Life Movement,

Greetings from Biola University.

In May we had a moment on campus when a Biola student in good standing, Diana Jimenez, was asked to remove graphic depictions of aborted babies. The encounter, which was preceded by numerous conversations with Diana, was captured in part on video that was edited and then posted on the Internet. Since that time I have heard from many friends of Biola who are leaders and voices in the pro-life community asking for perspective on the video and offering help, knowing we are allies for the sanctity of human life.

To them as well as to anyone of interest, I want to acknowledge publicly that there were missteps made in our response to Diana. For this we apologize to the public as I have privately to Diana. In the days and weeks following this incident, we have thought about where and how we could have and should have done things differently. In turn, we have taken corrective steps. Diana’s passion for the unborn was not the reason she was asked to remove the photographs. For actions on our part that were perceived to be heavy-handed and retaliatory, I have apologized to her and stand by this apology publicly. I acknowledge and regret our errors, and steps have been taken to correct them. As a result, the leadership of Biola is addressing our policies and procedures to avoid a reoccurrence of this type of situation.

In so many ways, Diana is the kind of student with the deep Christian convictions I hoped to see when I came to Biola six years ago. In her convictions about saving the unborn, she represents what Biola is about—the desire to speak up against injustices that break the heart of God. Like Diana, Biola is and has been passionately pro-life.

We have had this year and will have in years to come pro-life events and speakers on campus. We have a pro-life group led by students. We have in our theological statement approved by the board and updated in the past year a statement relative to the sanctity of life: “The Bible is clear in its teaching on the sanctity of life. Life begins at conception. We abhor the destruction of innocent human life through abortion on demand, infanticide or euthanasia as unbiblical and contrary to God’s will. Life is precious and in God’s hands.” All Biola faculty and trustees affirm this statement. We are one of a handful of American colleges or universities filing suit against the federal government for mandating contraceptive coverage in our health plan to include drugs like the morning-after pill and the week-after pill. Simply, we are allies with the pro-life community on behalf of the unborn.

We will continue moving forward on our time-honored commitment to holding high the value of human life and confronting the tragedy of abortion.

1. Communication: In September, I will communicate to the Biola community through The Chimes, our student newspaper, and through other venues Biola’s current and historic position on the sanctity of life as well as provide a context for the important nature of showing disturbing images portraying victims of injustice. This fall, I, along with a team from Biola (such as spiritual life, students and faculty), will preview the way in which images could and should be used in a Biola chapel service. Through my message and the previewing of a chapel service, we will be reinforcing Biola’s core mission to raise up graduates equipped with moral courage and intellectual competence who can impact the larger culture.

2. Instruction: As in years past and in years to come, this year we will again sponsor a pro-life chapel. The presenters we invite will demonstrate the use of images compassionately, ethically and effectively. The sanctity of human life is more than mere words affirmed by administration and faculty, but a teaching tool to equip our students with the knowledge necessary to become culture-changing leaders. Disturbing images of injustice certainly prick our consciences deeply and uncomfortably, but historically images have been effective ways of awakening our souls to these injustices and to activism.

3. Policy: Biola has not had a specific policy regarding the use of graphic or disturbing images on campus, leading to the kind of situation experienced by Diana. By the end of the fall semester, Biola will have a clear policy supporting the ethical and compassionate use of graphic images in places trafficked by students. As a Christ-centered, biblically grounded community, we need to understand the role graphic images should play in communicating our convictions as Christians. In the meantime, we are committed to finding ways and appointing times and places on campus where information, including photographs of victims of injustice, will be displayed.

4. Leadership: This year we are accelerating our work and adding leadership to our academic team for the specific purpose of making sure our stated values and theological convictions are evident in our curriculum and learning outcomes and of making changes where we see learning outcomes are not evident. This relates to the sanctity of life, as it is one of our six theological distinctives. We desire that each student graduating from Biola understands and can articulate the biblical message of the sanctity of human life, so that students demonstrate these values in their own communities.

5. Continuing Our Commitment: We will continue and advance our advocacy for life and in support of the unborn through our chapels, our student groups, our theological distinctives, our classrooms and curriculum, and through our legal action. We have begun to consider additional ways to emphasize the tragedy and trauma of abortion so that our students not only embrace the convictions those like Diana champion but also understand there’s help for them in times when they need it.

Again, we are sorry for our missteps and for whatever divisions within the Christian community that have ensued. Our aim is to reaffirm our position of leadership and advocacy for life.

Please be in prayer, above all, that we will have wisdom and will be reminded through these conversations that what is most at stake is not Biola’s reputation but rather the unspoken voices of the unborn children, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his exaltation as the risen Savior and reigning King.

In Christ,

Barry H. Corey
President

Download a pdf of the Open Letter on Biola's Commitment to the Pro-Life Cause.

Related: Earlier statements and resources related to this situation can be found on this page: "Biola University Response to Recent YouTube Video of Student Demonstration."

Comments

  • Sean Aug. 21, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    This is so encouraging! Thank you so much for making this letter available to the public. I have been so disheartened by the things I have been seeing over this event at Biola, and this has made me so happy! The years ahead are bright. With the help of educational facilities like Biola leading the way, abortion on demand will come to an end! Your efforts will bear fruit in the form of lives saved, women protected, and souls brought to the saving knowledge of Christ by the loving example of his people reaching out to those most in need with compassion and truth. God bless you, Dr. Corey! May my alma mater be the first institution to follow your example and to move into leadership in the pro-life movement. Pursuing a world without abortion, Respectfully, Sean

  • Seth Gruber Aug. 21, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    I love Biola University. Always have, which was why I was so disappointed in how things were handled with this situation. As someone who was involved in this whole mess, I want to say that I am deeply impressed and humbled by how Biola has responded in this letter. As my sister begins there this fall, I am again proud to brag on Biola and there leadership in this regard. Praying for these exciting developments Dr. Corey has promised are soon to ensue. Blessings, Seth

  • Christina Aug. 21, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    What a wonderful letter! Thank you, Biola!

  • Dana S. Chisholm Aug. 21, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Thank you, Dr. Corey for being a leader of character and leading our university on the frontline of the battle for Life. I am so proud of Biola for this humble response and for the stand you continue to take for Life and for Christ. I don't even have the words...just thank you.

  • Aaron Singer Aug. 21, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Awesome to hear such boldness on behalf of both student and university! Glory be to God!

  • Judith M. Rood Aug. 21, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    I am greatly heartened to learn that once again The Lord has given Dr. Corey the wisdom he needs to lead Biola in a fraught political climate. I am especially grateful that he apologized to our student on behalf of our entire community.

  • Emily Arnold Aug. 22, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    This was all so well said. I'm glad this letter was posted! Dr. Barry Corey, I have so much respect for you & the way you handle controversial topics and situations so well time & time again.

  • Leon Hiebert Aug. 22, 2013 at 4:32 AM

    Since all of us sin, offend others, make mistakes, etc. it is necessary to know how to correct them. But it is much better to have a good example of how to apologize in a meaningful way! Often people in leadership are too insecure to publically admit they did wrong. But setting an example is so important. It is part of the teaching process. Obviously BIOLA is putting into practice what they say the Bible teaches. What an excellent example for your students to deal with their future mistakes, no matter what the issue. Thank you!

  • Carmen Mayell Aug. 22, 2013 at 6:12 AM

    Well stated and definitely an encouragement to all who were concerned by the recent developments at Biola--both perceived and actual. Thank you, Dr. Corey, for your willingness to "take the heat" in a manner that both helps bring healing w/in the body of Christ as well as reasserting Biola's strong stand and conviction, in line with truth of God's Word, relative to the sanctity of life, even extending to those yet to be born.

  • Chris Gast Aug. 22, 2013 at 7:04 AM

    This is wonderful and it is very encouraging to have a university faculty and administration willing to stand up for the most basic foundation of our beliefs and a just society, the recognition that every human life is of infinite value.

  • Michelle Onuorah Aug. 22, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    As an alumna of Biola and friend of Diana, I appreciate this step in seeking reconciliation between the two parties. That being said, I am personally an advocate for the pro-choice movement along with other Biola students and alum; and while I appreciate Biola making their stance on the issue known, it is my hope that they realize they are not speaking for the entire student body or alumni on this topic.

  • Jimmy Prehn Aug. 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    I appreciate Dr. Corey's open acknowledgement and validation of this issue at hand, and any mis-steps that may have occurred in this specific case with Diana. I think it should also be noted that groups like the CBR, Greg Cunningham, and their GAP program among other initiatives that they are responsible for are excessively aggressive and predatory in their approach and tactics. Conviction is one thing but it must be kept in check with true christian humility and charity.

  • William Wells Aug. 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Biola's position on the matter should have never been questioned in the first place. This was, and always has been, an issue of the individual’s role in community and where and how our perceptions of what others ought to think, or do, or believe belong with regard to our intent to forcibly expose/manipulate the content observed by others give us right to act as balanced against the free will that God affords us. It is not an easy issue to tackle - but at no time could a sober reading of the facts have caused anyone to believe that Biola was not and is not committed to a staunchly pro-life position. That the administration took the time to pen this public letter of reconciliation in humility and openness is testament to the commitment with which the administration seeks God's will. I am today all the more proud to be an alumnus of Biola.

  • Randy Alcorn Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Thanks, Barry, and thanks Biola. May other Christian universities, ministries and churches learn from this example of Christlikeness.

  • Liz Clark Aug. 22, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Thank you for serving as such a wonderful pro-life example to students, churches, other universities.

  • jeffnkr Aug. 22, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    It is very encouraging to hear the apology. I would like to know if Mr. Hooper and the head of Campus Security also apologized. Dr. Elliot also should apologize, regardless of the fact that she retired.

  • Bud Reeves Aug. 22, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Dr. Cory. I believe you have, through your humble contrition and transparency placed a stake in the ground, not just for Christian Universities, but the church at large in America. Those of us who have labored for years and years have experienced in different ways, what Diana went through at the hands of pastors and church leadership. It is time in America for all pastors in America to allow God to searh their hearts, as I am sure you did, and then begin a new day in bringing to their congregations, the real prolife education and actions that will follow at Biola. WELL DON BIOLA!!

  • Jill Taylor Aug. 23, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Serving Christ as an Executive Director of a Pregnancy Support Center in OH, I have been made aware of this difficult situation just recently. What a joy to learn from Dr. Corey how to handle with grace the beginnings of reconciliation in the body of Christ. There is NO reason for there to be anything other than forgiveness and understanding after that powerful letter, Dr. Corey. As you read the responses, I pray you feel the love of God pouring out upon you and upon Biola. That said, the holding of graphic images requires very delicate navigation. While we strive to make people aware of what abortion REALLY is, we also hope to help women and men make life choices that can honor God our creator as well as our society "at its best". And finally, we want to be there for the people who are post-abortive, desiring they find healing, but knowing they likely will be fearful to seek help because of their perceived fear of wrath from those whom they look up to and strive to please. This latter group can often be moved by graphic pictures, but most likely will NOT. They will most likely be driven deeper into their shame, into their depression and quite possibly away from their Saviour. That, of course, is never our objective, but it's still a real possibility when we hold signs with graphic images. I will pray for Biola and for God's blessing over this healing. I will also hold Biola up as the "real deal" navigating students through a culture that often rallies around the rights of the living on this side of the womb only. I can only imagine the smile on our Father's face as He watches this unfold--because you (Biola) are willing to walk the talk. I pray other Christian higher educational facilities across our nation take note of your very vulnerable hearts. The old hymn...May Jesus Christ be Praised...is being lived out right now at Biola. jkt

  • Brian Borgman Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Dear Dr Corey As a graduate of Biola (89) I have never questioned our commitment to life. This story of Diana however brought some issues to light and I want to thank you for dealing with this student and the issues which this situation precipitated with humility, wisdom, grace and courage. It is my prayer that your actions will be blessed by God beyond Biola. You have certainly made me proud to be a Biolan. I thank God for your leadership.

  • D. Howard Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    I was deeply saddened that your nursing faculty would be so vindictive as to refuse to write recommendations for that student. Of all the people in the world, I would think nursing staff would applaud a pro-life student.

  • RogerC Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Thank you, Dr. Corey, for having the courage and wisdom to do the right thing in the face of huge cultural pressures to do the opposite. I hope this direction will infuse all faculty and staff as well.

  • Scott Leigh Aug. 24, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    God gives us all a message to tell. He is the "I AM." A child of the I AM is fearfully and wonderfully made, hidden discreetly from man's eyes in their mother's womb (Ps. 139) and even they have told a message that 'He Is!'. But when the unborn are 'not' as a result of man's violent hand open revulsion should follow not shallow silence. Light has thus shined in darkness. That He has begun an organized effort in an institution from the message of an unborn child shows how our message effects those around us. Let us then be encouraged to tell the world of God's kingdom and the gospel message of His Son, with the same zeal as though we were emblazoned with a graphic T.

  • Jean Stephenson Aug. 25, 2013 at 3:58 AM

    I look forward to seeing other pro-life students taking the pictures of pre-born and aborted babies into the heavily trafficked areas of Biola and other Christian Universities in the future. These, along with good pro-life apologetics will see many babies lives saved, such as the one that was saved when a student considering aborting her child saw the graphic images displayed by Diane at Biola and got her into so much trouble. Pro-Life students can now stand where Diane did without fear. Good news! Do it and save more lives and the attitudes of pro-choice students (yes, I know many Christians who are effectively pro-choice).

  • Ivana Forman Aug. 25, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Thank you Dr Corey for having a heart which seeks after God for the truth and wisdom in knowing how to go forward with this injustice of abortion and exposing it to your students! My heart was so lifted at reading your public open letter, bless you and Biola, I pray this enables new ground to be taken for the Gospel and for the fight against the horror of abortion.

  • Daniel Meyer Aug. 26, 2013 at 6:55 AM

    Thank you Dr. Corey for this public apology and for your willingness to take leadership in these decisions. May God grant you continued courage and faith as you act on behalf of these little ones. Love in Christ, Daniel Meyer

  • Tony Santos Aug. 26, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    As a chaplain for many public institutions including prisons, I have observed so many administrators seeking to be right instead of seeking reconciliation. However this letter by the top of our school administration truly demonstrate how important it is to place reconciliation above winning an argument that might cause unnecessary division. "Thank-you Dr. Barry Corey for your transparent and humble leadership to this campus."

  • Josh Kristianto Aug. 27, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    I love Biola and DBC as much as the next guy, but can't Biola go one year without some sort of controversy? I mean yeesh, it was the Jesus mural, then Biola Underground, and now this? Give DBC and crew a break, man, come on. What's this year's gonna be, we don't have enough trees on campus so therefore we're anti-stewardship? DBC doesn't get paid enough, if you ask me. Here's praying for a controversy-free year. Amen.

  • Henri Chase Aug. 27, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Have you fired or otherwise disciplined Susan Elliot and your brutish Police Chief? "Missteps" is a pretty weak word Sir.

  • Jean Stephenson Aug. 30, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    Jim Prehn, you are making libellous accusations against CBR and Gap and it might be wise to retract such an unfounded statement. I know people who work with CBR and have been on GAP projects and they are not in anyway predatory or aggressive. The pictures are shocking but they need to be seen if we are ever going to overturn the evil business of killing unborn children. If you had ever volunteered with these people, you would know that they are extremely caring and not at all like your description of them. Be honest; are your accusations not really about the fact that they use graphic images? By the way, they always film themselves at displays because accusations like you make are often directed at them.

  • Jean Stephenson Aug. 30, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    Jill Taylor, I work with a group in the UK who use the same model and graphic images as those that are used in universities and elsewhere in the US. We have plenty of evidence that graphic images DO work and many, many women have told us that had they seen them before they had their abortions (37% are repeat abortions in the UK!) they would have kept their babies. They believed the lies before seeing the truth that a first trimester baby is nothing more than a bunch of cells, just tissue ect. They say that only the pictures of the pre-born baby and what abortion does to the child convinced them that they had been lied to and they ARE angry but no with us, rather, they are angry with the abortion providers and counsellors who did not want to upset them when they were considering abortion by exposing the truth. We have wonderful post abortive women who have themselves been forgiven and healed who work with these ladies to help them find healing and forgiveness too. 1 in 3 women will have at least 1 abortion in their life time which is tragic. Being up front and honest and showing love and care are NOT mutually exclusive.

  • Bev Cielnicky Sep. 2, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Thank you, President Corey, for your letter. Years ago Crusade for Life had a pro-life chapter at Biola. We gave a talk at chapel and handed out pro-life material. Is there a pro-life group on campus at this time? We would like to work with them. Thank you for your help.

  • BK Sep. 5, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    The photos are very effective and should be posted all over campus until Christians stop having abortions and the administration creates a pro life ministry major within the bioethics department.

  • Sohee Abbot Sep. 7, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    If Prof. Elliot took such vindictive action against this young woman, then this probably was not the first time she used her position to coerce students into violating their consciences and beliefs--it was merely the last time. Has any investigation been made into prior instances in which students may have been denied references they otherwise would have received, or suffered other harm, whether professionally, psychologically, or spiritually? Are there innocent children who are not with us today because a young nurse's conscience was weakened at Biola due to pressure from Prof. Elliott and her department?

  • Caroline Sep. 18, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    I congratulate you for your humlity and the steps you have chosen to take towards reconciling this situation. God bless you and Biola University. You are leading the way!

  • SGT TAYLOR Life Member of D.A.V. Oct. 8, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    PRAISE THE BLESSED "TRINITY" GOD THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON &THE HOLY SPIRIT/GHOST! AS WELL AS OUR BLESSED VIRGIN MOTHER MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS CHRIST. BRAVO! BRAVO! Dean Corey, You have changed my whole outlook on Biola University Dean Corey. I am happy and overjoyed. To read in your open letter Dean Corey. That you made available to the general public. Which took a lot of deep reflective prayer on your behalf. As well as stepping up to our Lord Jesus Christ. Throwing off the sin of pride & arrogance. Admitting to yourself & God. That you & some of your Biola Christian University staff. Had wondered off the path of GOD'S BIBLICAL LAWS & DIRECTIVES. The positive steps you are taking. With the help and guidance of The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has helped you Dean Corey guide, direct & implement. New Biola University Policies & Guidelines. That will put your Christian University back on track with our duties & commands. That Promote our long held and deeply protected Christian belief. In THE SANCTITY OF ALL HUMAN LIFE! From CONCEPTION to NATURAL DEATH or when OUR CREATOR GOD decides to call us home. I'm filled with GOD'S LOVE & PEACE Dean Corey. Knowing that you & your staff are more in line with your CHRISTIAN Beliefs, Faith & BIBLICAL TEACHINGS NOW. The Teachings & Laws of "The Holy Bible". That show how DEEP & UNWAVERING JESUS CHRISTS LOVE was 2000 years ago and still is today. Dean Corey thank you for. The way you addressed the horrible, heart breaking. Abusive, Anti-Christian as well as barbaric, display of authoritative power over Miss Diana. It rattled me from every aspect of my mind, body & soul. I kept telling myself that I was seeing something that was made up. I could not for a second believe that a young Biola University student was being harassed, abused, intimidated Mentally, Physically & Emotionally. By 2 of Biola University security personnel. This is nothing you would think would happen to a young female at a Christian University. Atheist maybe, but not Christian. I hope & pray that I don't ever see passionate Christian mistreated on a Christian College or University like poor Miss Diana. GOD'S LOVE PEACE, COMPASSION BE WITH ALL OF BIOLA UNIVERSITY. AMEN & PRAISE OUR HEAVENLY AWESOME ALL LOVING WITH TRUE UNCONDITIONALITY.

  • ps Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I think this is a great statement and I applaud it. Does this mean that nursing professors will be able to recommend Diana without being punished by Susan Elliot? She was in good standing, a week to graduation, when this occurred I am appalled (as a nurse and former nurse educator) that a nursing director would give a directive to instructors forbidding a reference of one of their graduates who had completed the four years in good standing over an issue of conscience. I am now nearly 50, but when I was in a "Christian" College in the 80's, I and a friend refused a clinical at Family Planning as they do abortion counseling. While we didn't do or say everything as well as we might've in that incident, and while they still kept the clinical "Unsatisfactory" on our records, we were not terminated from the program and the instructors provided us references; further the director of the program later thanked me as it opened the discussion of what Family Planning is about (she hadn't realized that they do abortion counseling) and how students who stand up for their conscience issues are the kinds of students they wanted to draw. While at first they were disorganized by the situation, they did end up supporting us. For this reason we never went public about it - the college was far more liberal than Biola and the churches financially supporting it were in a far more biblical place than the university; it could've gotten quite ugly had it become public. I would encourage Susan Elliot to withdraw the directive and instead support a Christian Nurse Biola Grad trying to live by Christian conviction. Like us so many years ago, she probably didn't do everything perfectly - but she was trying to do what was right. Please rescind the punishment of her by supporting her career efforts and promote thoughtful Christian life choices in their nursing students by not punishing this one. Respectfully submitted; ps

  • ps Oct. 9, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Sorry my comment above is hard to read - I put it in paragraphs that the blog didn't take,

  • MS Nov. 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    So, I did send Biola an email regarding Ms. Jimenez's situation. And reading this letter is definitely encouraging. Thank you for posting this.

  • betreleAbebra Dec. 13, 2013 at 4:59 AM

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  • Fauniteni Jul. 2, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Still would like an update on Diana Jimenez, and the status of her being able to have ANY letter of recommendation from your university.

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