This year’s March Madness Cinderella story belongs to Oral Roberts University, which has become the second-ever 15 seed in men’s NCAA basketball tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16.
The underdog college basketball team knocked Florida out of the second round after beating Ohio State University.
However, mainstream media outlets appear to be upset by this year’s Cinderella story due to Oral Roberts’ “troubling history” as a Christian university.
The private university was founded by Oral Roberts, a prominent televangelist, in 1963, Insider reported.
The outlet said he became known for his extreme approach to fundraising after he said God spoke to him and promised to take his life if he did not collect $8 million dollars within a year.
He was also reportedly known for preaching that homosexuality “is not only wild, it is insane.”
Roberts’ son Ronald died by suicide six months after he came out as gay, and Roberts’ grandson Randy Roberts Potts, who also came out as gay, blamed his grandfather and the evangelical community for his uncle’s death.
“Suicide among gay men and women in Evangelical communities is still prevalent,” Potts wrote in a letter to his late uncle.
“Evangelicals may not be killing gays outright — the police report suggests my uncle killed himself. However, while the Evangelical community might not pull the trigger when one of their gay members commits suicide, they provide the ammunition.”
In an Op-Ed for USA Today, Hemal Jhaveri wrote the university is “wholly incompatible with the NCAA’s own stated values of equality and inclusion.”
The school’s student handbook prohibits homosexuality and says marriage is between a man and a woman.
Insider noted any student found to violate the policy must undergo conversion therapy.
The media outlet cited research from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law that found people who underwent conversion therapy were “almost twice as likely to attempt suicide.”
Insider claimed with Oral Roberts’ tournament success, more students will apply to attend the university, thus having “real-world repercussions” on the LGBT community.
With approximately 16 percent of Generation Z identifying as LGBT in a February 2021 Gallup poll, Insider said more gay students will most likely apply to attend Oral Roberts.
“And if they’re subjected to conversion therapy, research suggests they’re far more likely to experience suicidal thoughts — and, ultimately, more likely to die,” the outlet reported.
Ed Stetzer, a professor and dean at Wheaton College, pushed back, writing in a USA Today Op-Ed that maybe people should “let the religious college kids play basketball without it becoming a national controversy.”
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