Ventana Student Housing in Orem, Utah learned the hard way last year that evicting a student for vocalizing suicidal tendencies - yes, in case you missed it, that's literally exactly what they did, no exaggeration - is not okay. They experienced a tsunami of thoroughly deserved backlash in which I was proud to play some small part. They responded to this backlash by refusing to answer the phone, deleting comments from their Facebook page, and generally removing any question as to whether they had a legitimate side of the story that would make them look less evil. Now it brings me great joy to know that the student, Austyn Sorenson, and the Disability Law Center of Utah are suing them for this blatant violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. If she hadn't chosen to sue them, nobody else could have done so, and they would escape the legal consequences that they deserve on top of the suffering they've already faced. Unfortunately the law doesn't provide for the management to be imprisoned for life and have their company confiscated and given to actual humans, but at least I can be satisfied that they're not having a fun time right now.
In a Salt Lake Tribune editorial, Robert Gehrke summed it up pretty well: "Unless you’re vying for the title of 'Utah’s Worst Person,' it’s hard to comprehend that your reaction when someone comes to you and tells you a young person is considering suicide would be to evict that person from his or her apartment." Indeed. I read another editorial months ago about the ignorance around mental health, which is a legitimate problem, but not relevant to this case. Evicting someone for vocalizing suicidal tendencies isn't ignorance, it's sociopathy. I also appreciate that Gehrke mocked the author of the eviction notice for writing "undo" instead of "undue", one of three spelling errors that I noted in my previous evisceration of that damnable document. Since then my English graduate instructor training has taught me not to criticize people's spelling and grammar, but I'm still going to make an exception for this person and I hope Beth can forgive me for that. I only criticized people's spelling and grammar mistakes when they were being jerks anyway. And people like this person, and everyone else at Ventana Student Housing who either signed off on it or did nothing to stop it, are the reason hell exists.
Yesterday I went to the park to read The Merlin Effect, one of the scores of books I've acquired over the years and never read because I was too busy wasting time on social media. It's part fantasy, part sci-fi, so I could kind of justify reading it for my thesis even though it wasn't on my list. It's very creative, tying together a bunch of ideas and plot hooks into a strange and satisfying whole, and I really enjoyed it even while silently critiquing its shortcomings, such as entire chapters of expository dialogue. (I have to notice those things for my own improvement as a writer.) I just breezed through it and didn't count down the pages until I could be done like I did with some of the books on my list.
A group from Gospel Peace Church had set up a pavilion in the park with free Popsicles, face painting, and cornhole. I got invited over there twice. It's an evangelical church that's just been planted in Logan a few weeks ago as a spinoff of a church with a similar name in Salt Lake City. (Proactive church planting is often a far more effective method for growth than my own church's preferred method of waiting until congregations reach a certain size, which may or may not ever happen, and then splitting them.) Leadership had come from as far away as Michigan, so I can only assume that this church was planted specifically as an outreach to Mormons, whom many if not most evangelicals assume are all going to the same place as the management of Ventana Student Housing. Of course they asked about my religious background and I told them, and they were chill about it and didn't criticize. They said their LDS neighbors are all really nice and the temple grounds are beautiful.
I hope they stay that way. I hope they aren't like those guys who used to set up on USU campus and seemed far less interested in promoting their own beliefs than in tearing down other people's beliefs. There's a big difference. By all means, promote your beliefs, explain why you find them credible and compelling and whatnot, and let people decide for themselves whether they then find your beliefs more credible than their current beliefs or lack thereof. I have no objection to that. I have no objection to everyone enjoying the same right to proselyte as my own church's missionaries - but my own church's missionaries aren't trained to go around poking holes in other churches' theology or history. Taking that approach is far less likely to persuade someone than to make them think (correctly) that you're a dick. Atheists who go around social media comments trying to deconvert people from belief in general, offering literally nothing in exchange, are even more obnoxious.
I also welcome any increase in Utah's religious diversity. Even believing, as I do, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the "most true" religion, I don't want it to monopolize any area because that results in too many of its members becoming arrogant narrow-minded jerks (as is human nature with any lack of diversity) - and since it explicitly teaches that people who don't join it in mortality can still do so in the next life, there's no downside. (That's often the elephant in the room with religious diversity. "I love you and legitimately respect your differences in belief, but according to my beliefs you're still going to burn in hell forever." My church's workaround for this problem is one of my favorite things about it.) And if they do end up pulling their future membership from my church's current membership, oh well - my church has plenty of people that I would be happy to give away.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.