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Dozens of Samford University students stood in silence for an hour Wednesday to protest the university’s exclusion of pro-LGBTQ churches.

About 250 people attended the demonstration, including students, current and retired faculty and staff, alumni, and local clergy, organizers said online. The protest comes a week after news reports that the Birmingham, Ala., university blocked two churches from participating in its annual campus ministry fair because of the churches’ support for LGBTQ rights.

Alumni have criticized the move in open letters and a video to university leaders. Some alumni have said the university’s actions indicate that the Baptist university is becoming more conservative. The university has so far defended its decision.

Leaders of SAFE Samford, an alumni organization that supports and advocates for LGBTQ students at Samford, initially said that the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) were excluded from the event. But more recently, a pastor with the Baptist Church of the Covenant in Birmingham said her church was also not invited to the campus ministry fair. Pastor Erica Cooper shared the update with Baptist News Global, a news outlet focused on religion that’s been following the controversy.

“Since our church has had historic and continuing affiliations with Samford, and since a large portion of our congregants have strong personal ties to the university, we confess that we are hurt over our exclusion,” Cooper wrote.

Samford president Beck Taylor wrote in emails to some alumni that were obtained by Baptist News Global that the decisions about formal ministry partnerships were narrow and related to the university's religious mission.

“In that domain, I feel that it is imperative that we partner with those who subscribe to the university’s core commitments,” Taylor wrote. “In doing so, we exercise the same rights and responsibilities you discern and exercise as you govern your congregation … In a world that propagates the lie that one must completely agree with another on such issues to truly love them and want to serve them, I can assure you that in my heart of hearts, I love our LGBTQ students and employees, and I want to serve them well.”

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