Saving Mr. Goldberg: Evangelicals Up In Arms Over Gay Choreographer at Liberty University
A gay choreographer? Horrors! What’s next? Priests who are Catholic?!!
Here’s a hypothetical. You’re a producing a university production of musical (for the sake of argument, let’s say that musical is "Mary Poppins") and you have an opportunity to hire a choreographer who performed and served as dance captain in the Broadway production of that musical. Sounds like a great idea, no? OK, let’s mix things up a little. Let’s say that university happens to be Jerry Falwell’s über conservative Liberty University and the Broadway veteran just so happens to be gay? Let mayhem ensue!
The decision to hire an openly gay choreographer that Christian News has labeled "an open homosexual advocate" for his support of marriage equality on his social media accounts has some on the religious right kicking their heels up in frustration.
According to Christian News, Liberty University, considered the world’s largest Christian university hired New York City-based professional dancer, Geoffrey Goldberg (previously profiled by EDGE ), a veteran of the Broadway production of "Mary Poppins" to choreograph the school’s upcoming production of the Disney tuner.
"We are very excited to have all of these guest artists join us ... They bring a whole new level of excellence," stated artistic director Linda Nell Cooper of Liberty’s Alluvion Stage Company, an arm of the university’s theater department. "Our goal with Alluvion is for every show to raise the bar somehow; they have helped us to do that."
Goldberg’s sexuality appears to be an issue with Christian News’ Heather Clark who wrote:
"Goldberg’s social media pages also indicate his support and advocacy for the homosexual agenda, posting "Happy pride, everyone" in June of last year, which was designated as Homosexual Pride Month by Barack Obama. Goldberg is also a member of the Facebook group Marriage Equality New York.
Goldberg’s Pinterest page likewise features a board dedicated to weddings, which includes pins for "gay wedding cake toppers," "custom modern groom invitations for gay weddings or same-sex ceremonies" and a "gay wedding cake" with rainbow stripes."
The Christian News further reports that Cooper told Christian News Network that "Alluvian/Liberty University was not aware of Goldberg’s beliefs about homosexuality, but stated that one’s ’personal life’ is not a factor in the hiringhiring(sic) process."
"He was hired based on his professionalism and his talent like everyone else," Cooper explained. "It never came up in the conversation, nor would it have. ... We do not ask about their personal life."
This of course, has caused the religious right "concern machine" to go into overdrive. Comments on online bulletin board BaptistBoard.com have been mixed.
One member wrote:
"This kind of thing can hurt alumni. If they are looking for positions in churches and our churches know about things like this it will reflect on them."
Another member replied:
"But if the guy repents, it will be a great testimony for those alumni."
A somewhat supportive member wrote:
"Good grief people. What if LU hired a Democrat... you guys gonna get nervous in the service about that too!!! I bet this helps the schools reputation. But leave it to the right-wing brand of American evangelicalism to screw this up as well."
Comments by Christian News readers have included:
"Scripture declares that in the last days there will be a great falling away (apostasy). For me and my house we will serve the Lord. [..] In the meantime, I pray for that young man."
"Well God can take this and turn it for His glory! When one is in sin it is up to God’s people to lead them to Christ and Him nourish the seed, Jesus himself did not go to save the already saved He went to save the lost sinners, so I pray for the mighty hand of God to guide this man into the light!!!!"
"Directing a ’secular’ play does not constitute Christian leadership. Mary Poppins?? I have a bigger problem with ’Mary Poppins’, just what spiritual higher learning is that producing?? Let’s see him get saved or at least plant a seed of hope there."
The Alluvion Stage Company production of "Mary Poppins" opens on April 11 and runs through May 9. Click here for tickets.
According to their Liberty University website, is the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on more than 7,000 beautiful acres in Lynchburg, VA, Liberty offers over 350 programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, and is home to more than 100,000 residential and online students.
Since 1971, the mission of Liberty University has been to develop Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for impacting tomorrow’s world. With a unique heritage and an ever-expanding influence, Liberty remains steadfast in its commitment of Training Champions for Christ.