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Josh Ritter Defends Gay Rights At Messiah College Performance In Pennsylvania

05/05/2013 11:50 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
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Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter is making headlines after speaking out in defense of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during a performance at a private Christian college which allegedly has an anti-gay policy in place for its student body.

After his performance at Pennsylvania's Messiah College, Ritter took to Facebook with the following message:

"Messiah College requires all students to sign a 'Community Covenant,' promising to, among other things, 'avoid such sinful practices as…homosexual behavior….'

This policy, which I see as exclusionary and bigoted, could not run more counter to my personal beliefs. If I had done my homework, and read about Messiah's policies ahead of time, I would never have agreed to play there."

When he took to the stage, Ritter says he "chose to use the opportunity to talk to the students -- to encourage them to seek openness and change," adding, "I spoke honestly about my personal views -- that we should all have the right to love -- and to marry freely, no matter what our sexual orientation. Everyone was respectful and kind, and it is my hope that they'll continue to demand a change to the Community Covenant."

Vowing never to perform at Messiah College again "until they welcome, in word and deed, all members of their faith regardless of sexuality," Ritter is donating his earnings from the performance to The Trevor Project, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth advocacy organization.

Click here to read Ritter's full Facebook post.

The Idaho-born Ritter is currently touring in support of his latest album, “The Beast in Its Tracks."

In 2011, Messiah College's "Community Covenant" made headlines when an openly gay student opted to transfer out of the school, saying he had been harassed by fellow students and even a professor because of his sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, College Provost Randy Bassinger defended the covenant to Penn Live at the time, calling it "quite clear on the behavioral expectations in a number of areas, one of them being homosexual behavior."

Bassinger added, "We’re very committed to that and very intentional on how we apply that — consistently, as with all our behavioral expectations.”

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