Wheaton College calls for repentance over KKK parody

 
 
Updated 3/7/2015 9:53 AM
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  • Wheaton College responded with a call for forgiveness after a parody by students satirizing the KKK.

    Wheaton College responded with a call for forgiveness after a parody by students satirizing the KKK. Daily Herald file photo

  • Wheaton College President Philip Ryken called a staff meeting at 1 a.m. last Sunday morning to get to the bottom of a skit students performed involving the Ku Klux Klan.

    Wheaton College President Philip Ryken called a staff meeting at 1 a.m. last Sunday morning to get to the bottom of a skit students performed involving the Ku Klux Klan. Daily Herald File Photo, February 2010

An attempt to satirize the Ku Klux Klan at Wheaton College last Saturday triggered outrage and a call for forgiveness for the third time in recent days at the Christian institution.

About 20 members of the Wheaton College football team performed a "racially insensitive skit" during a team event last Saturday night, college officials confirmed. The skit was part of an annual event known as "competition night."

A YouTube video of last year's event shows shirtless team members performing in relay races, doughnut-eating contests and belly-flop high-dive contests.

The 2015 version featured a skit led by two black students and other black team members that parodied a scene in the 2003 action film "Bad Boys II." In the film, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are undercover cops who infiltrate a KKK meeting by donning white robes.

As the KKK members begin shouting "white power," Lawrence and Smith shed their robes shouting, "Blue power! Miami PD!"

Blue and orange are Wheaton College's school colors. The Wheaton College team members acted out the skit while wearing white hoods and robes and brandishing Confederate flags.

Within hours, Wheaton College President Philip Ryken was notified of the skit and called a 1 a.m. meeting with school staff members, football coaches and the team captain to ascertain what occurred and determine an appropriate response.

A statement released by the college said the meeting revealed the skit "was not motivated by racial hostility." Coaches took responsibility for not stopping the skit before it began.

Ryken then sent out a letter to the entire campus calling for compassion, forgiveness and repentance.

"I remain hopeful that God is at work and that -- by reviving work of his Holy Spirit -- we may experience the kind of repentance that enables us to become the kind of community where the love of Christ prevails in every situation," Ryken wrote.

"Though what has happened in recent days is painful, it is also humbling, which may help us turn to prayer and remind us of our deep need for God."

The words were also fueled by the recent arrest of a student who was charged with the unauthorized recording of a woman showering in housing owned by the college.

Another recent incident involved a student lobbing fruit at a fellow student during a town hall event in which a question was asked about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Ryken and the college's director of multicultural development dined with black students this week to listen to their concerns about what happened at the football team event. Campus administrators also met with the football team and coaches to help them understand how their actions may have upset others on campus.

"All of us are in need of God's grace every day," Ryken wrote in his campus letter. "No campus needs the gospel more than Wheaton College."

The team members and assistant coaches involved followed Ryken's example in issuing their own apology to their campus peers.

"We made a mistake," wrote team member Josh Aldrin.

"Our error was thinking that the KKK and Confederate symbols would be understood in the satirical way we intended, and we did not fully consider the hurtful meanings these symbols carry and the terrible evil that has been carried out under them. We, as a team, now understand this skit was inappropriate and offensive."

Assistant coaches apologized for failing "in our responsibility of ensuring that members of the football team were living up to the standard of moral behavior that is expected of us as Christians, campus leaders, and mentors of students on this campus."

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