Jesus was Watching: University-Sponsored Drag Performance Takes Place on Chapel Grounds

The Tower

Controversy develops over a University-funded drag show taking place outside and inside the campus chapel. 

On Friday, April 28, 2023, the Student Programming Board and Trinity University Pride jointly hosted a “Drag Brunch” which was located in the courtyard of the Marguerite B. Parker Chapel. Several students sat at tables eating food while drag queens hired from off-campus danced provocatively to raunchy music beneath a statue of Jesus.

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The juxtaposition between the provocative performance and the chapel’s role as a place of prayer and reflection has left students wondering, why the chapel? Of all the places on campus, why did the drag show take place right outside the sacred space used by multiple religious organizations? No matter one’s opinion on drag shows themselves, the choice of location raises eyebrows. The costumes worn by drag performers, their dance style, and the music are objectively vulgar. The show’s proximity to the Chapel comes across as ignorant at best, and blatantly disrespectful at worst. 

Additionally, the drag queens changed into their costumes and got ready inside the chapel. Not only were they performing right outside the building, but they also used the interior of the building, where religious services are held, as a changing room. 

“An Obscene Performance In A Public Space”

Needless to say, the event was not without backlash and did not go over well with religious or conservative students and parents. 

Ellis Jacoby, president of the Trinity Young Conservatives of Texas group, describes his experience encountering the performers in the chapel:

“I was going to class in the back of the chapel, and had stopped to get some water from the water fountain. When I turned around I saw two men changing into stripper clothing and doing makeup in one of the changing rooms of the chapel. I was shocked they were using a sacred space like the chapel for not only to perform their sexually provocative show, but to change in as well. Holding an obscene performance in a public space is wrong, and is indecent exposure. There are often kids or highschoolers on campus, as this is a public campus, and potentially exposing them to what is essentially pornography is criminal in my opinion.”

“The fact that they intentionally chose the chapel was an insult to religious groups on campus, and was obviously intentional by the group hosting the event.”

He also brings up an important point about the funding of the event, which concerns students, parents, and anyone financially involved in the University. 

“The fact that the Trinity Programing board sponsored the event meant, as students, our money went to it, and that it was supported by the administration. I don’t know what Trinity was thinking, but hopefully they are made aware of the obscene and disrespectful nature of what they sponsored, and how many people are displeased with it,” says Jacoby.

As a result of the chapel drag event, many were left confused as to why the University sponsored a divisive “strip show” that does not benefit the campus when they should have been putting the money towards education or improving the quality of life for students.

“Hateful Comments Will Be Deleted”

Controversy around the drag brunch began to develop on TU snaps, the Trinity student snapchat group, after an anonymous user posted concern over the choice of location. Any opinions from anonymous students speaking out against the disrespect for the chapel were insulted on the Snapchat page, a hostility toward alternative viewpoints that illustrates a concerning trend in higher education.

On Tuesday, May 2nd, a Muslim student protested the chapel drag show with a petition and a sign that read “drag shows don’t belong in public spaces”, only to be ridiculed on TU snaps. Ironically, these users are the very people who call themselves tolerant. 

In response, the Trinity University PRIDE Instagram account defended the use of the chapel in an instagram post.

They state that the reason they chose to use the chapel courtyard was because there were “so many other events happening on campus that day” However, students have confirmed that campus had been relatively empty, and that there were plenty of free spaces in other locations. 

The post also fails to explain why the drag queens entered the chapel and used it as a changing room. The reference to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who “use their faith to serve their communities” is referring to a sacrilegious street performance group that cosplays in religious costumes, including sexualized parodies of the Stations of the Cross and the Virgin Mary.

The drag queens themselves are tagged in other posts by the PRIDE account, and their personal accounts are ridden with explicit images. Regardless of political ideology, these pornographic images cannot be deemed “religious” by any stretch of the imagination, and should have no place on religious grounds whatsoever.

TU Pride concludes by stating in a comment below that “any hateful comments will be deleted”, implying that disagreement equates to hate, and closing the door on any opportunity for discussion.  

The Tower reached out to the Student Programming Board via email, asking about the event-planning process and whether or not religious leaders were contacted. The Tower has not received a response.

This is not the first time that the University has displayed their progressive bias concerning campus events. Earlier in the semester, they made a conservative speaker pay to speak on campus. Hosting a drag show in the chapel is problematic on a whole new level. This decision reveals either complete disregard toward religious groups by the Student Programming Board and University, or something far more intentional.

Socialism: What Would Jesus Do?

Implementing socialism in the name of the Lord Jesus will bring us no closer to the world he envisioned for humanity.

As political division increases, people on every side are increasingly keen on bolstering the legitimacy of their political philosophy. Sometimes, this means reaching outside the realm of politics and into religion to attempt to appeal to higher values. For some, this involves going so far as claiming that Jesus Christ himself would be a supporter or believer in one side or the other. Many Christians, even some conservative Christians, will admit that they believe Jesus envisioned an idealized socialist society for humanity. Their claim is that socialism represents Christian charity put into widespread practice. (As a note, in this article I will be referring to Jesus in the past tense, though Jesus is alive in heaven today, just for simplicity, and to indicate that I am referring to his time teaching incarnate.)

I think it’s important that we define socialism in the way that socialist Christians would before we can address this idea. When people make the claim that socialism and Christianity go hand-in-hand, they are referring to an idealistic and theoretical sort of socialism. We all know that, in reality, socialism as it has been historically implemented has not worked. Socialism, in theory, means that the community owns the means of production of goods and handles distribution of wealth. This would allow for provision for the poor while opposing extreme wealth by a few. It means radical social change and justice for the underserved. By itself, this sounds like something that Christians really ought to support. These ideas are, after all, part of the worldview that Jesus spent time promoting. Of course we should want to serve the poor. On the surface, it makes sense that we should vote for a system that would implement Jesus’ teachings, even if it wouldn’t work out as intended. However, voting in favor of socialism would actually go against many of Jesus’ teachings.

First, Jesus would not have been political at all. Had Jesus been alive (in the flesh) today, he would not have participated in marches or engaged in political debate or even voted. You will never find an instance anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus endorses politicians or bureaucrats or gives them the power to allocate resources, nor does he tell anyone how to run their business. He really has nothing to say about how the economy ought to be run. Christians in support of certain modern political structures fight to claim Jesus as their own or as the ultimate authoritative supporter of their ideals. Forcing Jesus and his teachings to conform to the structures we have developed today subverts his universal and ultimate authority by making him fit into our limited view of the world.

At the very core of his being, Jesus was charitable. The definition of “charity”, according to the King James Bible dictionary, is “In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good”. Charity is, importantly, freely given. Consider 2 Corinthians 9:7, which says that “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. You are not fulfilling your Christian duty to help the poor if you “give” because someone with more power forces you to do so. 

The truth is, socialism is completely antithetical to the Christian ideal of charity. There is no benevolence in socialism. There is no free will in socialism. Even if socialism “worked” as it should, if all the funds taken by the government were redistributed to the poor, it would not be Christian. 

But, what about the events in Acts 4:32-35? This seems to be an ideal society of believers providing for one another by laying their money at the apostles’ feet, who would then give it to anyone who had need. Further, in Acts 5, a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property and only gave part of the proceeds to the community. The apostle Peter knew of their deception and condemned their actions, at which point God struck them dead. Does this not indicate that we should aim to live in a redistributive society, and that people ought to be punished who don’t do their part? Answer: it does not.

What should be noted about this passage is that the believers did not live under a governmental regime that held the threat of force over their heads lest they not pay their societal dues. Everyone participated and contributed willingly, and the only one who reserved the right to inflict punishment for disobedience was God himself. Additionally, the apostles were the ones carrying out redistribution. They were men of God and their actions were according to God’s will. The same cannot be said for money laid at the feet of a secular governing body. Such a body cannot be trusted to carry out the Lord’s will, and as such, giving money to them, rather than to legitimate men of God or directly to the needy, will not carry out the Lord’s will. 

Jesus wants people to choose to follow him. He wanted them to want to give charity due to a personal spiritual drive originating in the heart. This is the core of the principle of free will. You aren’t doing your Christian duty by simply paying your taxes under socialism. Charity is freely given and done as a result of faith, as a part of free will. Socialism tries to appear charitable, but even if it did “work”, the “giving” would not come freely from the heart and would therefore not be Christian.

Implementing socialism in the name of the Lord Jesus will bring us no closer to the world he envisioned for humanity.

Socialists claim that Jesus disdained the rich, citing his driving of the money-changers from the Temple and his remark that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Jesus did condemn the hoarding of wealth, telling us that it is better to lay up treasures in heaven than on earth. But you’ve the right to be a rich atheist if you choose. You can also be a rich Christian, if you use that wealth wisely. Implementing socialism in the name of the Lord Jesus will bring us no closer to the world he envisioned for humanity. All it will do is create a worldly body that infringes on people’s legitimate rights to their own property and mask the crucial importance of the heart in matters of giving.

Government controls from the outside-in, while discipleship transforms from the inside-out. Jesus sought to complete his vision via discipleship, focusing on the means rather than on the ends. He didn’t establish a government or any sort of governing body during his time on earth. Outside-in control will lead to resentment and rebellion and resistance against truth. Inside-out transformation will lead to new life and to revelation of the truth.