The clash between Dordt and Sioux County Conservatives

Spencer Short—Staff Writer

Sioux County Conservatives (SCC) have been in an uproar following Dordt’s announcement of speakers for the Prodigal Love of God Conference. According to some SCC members, the conference doesn’t have Christ in mind at all.

Few of the conference speakers are free from the Facebook fire of the Conservatives. Speakers Jemar Tisby, Tish Harrison Warren, and Marilynne Robinson are the focal points of the attacks. The S.C.C. points out that Tish Harrison Warren, holding an anti-Trump position, stated that she “knows no Trump supporters because all you need to not believe in Trump is go to church and get a college degree.” The S.C.C. also takes issue with Marilynne Robinson’s statement that the act of carrying a gun is “grotesque.” Another speaker, Temar Tisby, an African-American, believes the church should pay reparations due to the United States’ past history of segregation and slavery.

These Facebook posts, which were deleted seemingly due to some form of copyright issues between the S.C.C. and Dordt, are slowly being re-uploaded.

“We are going to comply with Dordt College’s request to remove pictures with their logo from our Facebook page,” S.C.C. said in a Facebook post, “But we will not go away because they threaten us… If Dordt College believes their logo being associated with these people is bad for Dordt College, why is Dordt College still hosting these speakers?”

From a post that survived deletion, texts are posted between Dordt President Erik Hoekstra and S.C.C. Communications Director Jacob Hall. The texts state that “these concerns have existed for years and others have met and gotten nowhere.” The post also invited President Hoekstra to attend their meeting on February 25th. The meeting, held at the Sioux Center Library, is to be on the topic of the Sioux Country Conservatives’ response to the conference.

The conference, set to be held on April 4th, commemorates the Synod of Dortrecht’s 400th anniversary. The Synod, held in the Netherlands, is where the Canons of Dordt—the underlying beliefs of the Christian Reformed Church—were formed in response to an opposing theology, that of Arminianism.

Due to Northwest Iowa’s, and more specifically Sioux Center’s, heavy Republican values,  many students and citizens alike are conflicted. Tyler Bouma, the head of the Dordt Republicans and also an active member of the Sioux County Conservatives, has conflicting opinions on the conference.

“Personally, I feel that the speakers of this event hold some very unbiblical positions. ” Bouma said. “However, I also recognize that stifling free speech is not beneficial to anyone…I view the Prodigal Love of God conference as a gross misrepresentation of the reformed positions this college claims to promote, even if they include a disclaimer saying that the speaker’s positions are not those of the college.”

At their meeting on the 25th, Jacob Hall, the head of the Sioux County Conservatives, opened the floor to grievances of the over 40 people in attendance. Although there were a few who advocated for the conference, most let it be known that they are concerned with the state of the college. Many held the belief that they were fine with the speakers as long as their opinions were either countered by more reformed speakers or their opinions were shown to be “non-Biblical.”

However, Laremy De Vries, a Dordt graduate and owner of the Fruited Plain here in Sioux Center, attending the meeting as “just an observer,” had a lot to say after the meeting.

“The whole meeting seemed pretty contentious. It just seemed like everyone was self-assured and confident of their own opinions, the division of the country is trickling down even to Sioux Center.”

De Vries was not impressed with the actions of the Sioux County Conservatives, whether at the meeting or online. He feels the whole situation was an attack intended to bring negativity and make trouble, not to make good conversation.

Already having read the works of or already met some of the speakers for the  Prodigal Love of God conference, De Vries is excited about the event and is hoping to get a ticket and be able to attend. He hopes that other’s will do the same and that the whole ordeal will bring people closer together, helping to foster civility between both sides of the situation.

Dr. David Henreckson, an assistant professor of theology and one of the coordinators of the event, believes that the event will be beneficial due to the fact that those attending will be challenged to think in new ways about their own faith and Christianity.

“We’re delighted to host some of the most prominent, thoughtful Christian thinkers and writers alive today… [People] who have shaped a generation of Reformed and evangelical Christians,” Henreckson said.

If you wish to attend the conference, tickets are still available and are free for Dordt students. Ticket registration and information was sent through a campus-wide email and is on Dordt’s homepage. Additionally, you may contact Dr. Henreckson of Dordt College at or Emily Rowe of the Andreas Center at with questions about the conference.

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