Baptist University's Anti-Gay Pledge Causes Faculty To Quit In Droves

A university in Georgia is bleeding faculty after adding a new section to employee contracts last October. The "Personal Lifestyle Statement" requires employees to reject homosexuality, premarital sex, adultery, drug use and public drinking near campus. It also mandates that staff be active in a local church.

In an anonymous survey in April, only 12 percent of faculty and staff said that they planned to stay at Shorter University, a 139-year-old Baptist school, reports Inside Higher Ed. More than 50 resigned before the new contracts were even distributed, and certain departments, such as science and fine arts, have been "eviscerated," according to Michael Wilson, a tenured librarian for the university who's worked there for 14 years.

"Through our policies, we seek to honor Jesus Christ," the university said in a statement. "We understand that there are those who do not agree with our beliefs. We are not trying to undermine their right to those beliefs, but want to be transparent about our own."

"Where is today's American Taliban? At Shorter University," tenured Shorter professor Sherri Weiler wrote in the Rome News-Tribune. "Religious fundamentalism in any form (Muslim or Christian) is sheer lunacy in today's divided, fractured, and tormented world. True peace is only to be found in opening the doors, not closing the gates."

Wilson had planned to stay at Shorter until retirement, but essentially resigned last week. He signed the "lifestyle statement," but crossed out the line: "I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality."

Leaving Shorter is "wrenching," said Wilson, who claims that many of his co-workers knew he was gay. "I'm a pretty quiet person. But I perceive this as a great injustice." He is part of Save Our Shorter, which is a campaign against the changes.

The new policy of course discriminates against employees or applicants who are not socially conservative Christians. But as a religious educational institution, Shorter is allowed to discriminate in favor of a particular religion with any employee, even employees not connected with the school's religious activities, according to an exception granted by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The policy also discriminates against gay Americans. But in Georgia, it is legal for employers to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In February, representatives in Georgia voted to table a bill that would have extended protections to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. In 2004, Georgia also became the fifth state in the union to amend its constitution to ban same-sex marriage; 25 others followed.

The "lifestyle statement" is the latest example of the Georgia Baptist Convention's growing influence on campus, according to some staff. In the late 1950s, the college approached the convention to help them with some financial troubles, and they formed a partnership. But when the convention started asserting more control over the board, the college tried to sever the tie.

In 2005, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that Shorter's board didn't have the power to do that. Since then, the convention has chosen the university's trustees. The college also joined the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, a network of evangelical institutions that hire mostly evangelical Protestants as faculty, and more moderate professors were allegedly urged to leave.

Evangelical protestants, like Southern Baptists, are more conservative on social issues than any other religious group in the U.S. In fact, they're the only major religious group in which a majority think that gay and lesbian relationships shouldn't be accepted by society, according to a 2011 Pew Religion Research Institute survey.

"Our relationship with the Georgia Baptist Convention is that they are the sole member of our corporation," Shorter spokeswoman Dawn Tolbert explained to the Rome News-Tribune. "We are Shorter University Incorporated. We are owned by them."

The school only receives 4.2 percent of its $50 million budget from the convention.

Some alumni are disturbed by Shorter's conservative turn. "Guess what? Not everyone at Shorter is a Baptist, and they don't need be," wrote one angry alumnus to the local paper, when the convention began asserting its influence. "For academic excellence and diversity to occur then there needs to be a wide variety of teachers with a wide variety of beliefs."

And there's a good chance that many students will be alienated too. While 63 percent of older evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage, according to the 2010 General Social Survey, only 44 percent of younger evangelicals feel the same.

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Thank you thank you thank you for standing up for your many christians don't! If teachers leave...there are others that can take their place who have the same beliefs as yours....stay strong don't waiver!

August 28 2012 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Love to see the univerity set moral standards. I would attend this university. Awesome. More jobs at the university for law abiding good people. Love it.

August 24 2012 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You know what scares the government? the private sector, because it is still legal i think to actually stand for your beliefs. If i was a gay person and im not, and i owned a business and hired a radically anti-gay person who was vocal about it and caused problems,i would probably fire that person. There is nothing wrong with standards. But at the rate this country is going, we will soon be like the animals with no standards at all. That is sad because i love my country and want to see it prosper once again.

June 15 2012 at 6:52 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I applaude the college's stand. Any religion based school should have the right to follow the doctrine of their religion, Any company should have the right to determine the requirements to work for that company, since when has it been for the government to be able to tell you what you can or can't beleive in the US? I really get tired when the media pours down your throat that a high percentage of people accept or promote any controversial issue...I, for one am a natural born American from a cherokee Indian and Pacific Islander (Legal, by the way) marriage, and I have never, in the 58 years that I have live on this earth, been poled on my beliefs....How many of you have ?

June 15 2012 at 6:47 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Wealth Builder

They didn't leave because of the gay issue. They left because of the no premarital sex and no drinking LOL. This is a Baptist University. Didn't they realize that? If you don't like it, go find another job.

June 15 2012 at 6:42 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

good for them for standing up for THEIR beliefs!!! One step closer to ending blatant hate wearing the mask of "religious morals". why do people belonging to ONE religion believe all different things? because when it comes down to it they will believe whatever helps them sleep better at night, it has nothing to do with their chosen doctrines and texts. so END the hate, or at least take responsibility for it instead of blaming it on your god or your books. experience true freedom and love... live by one rule... LOVE... have compassion and actually CARE for one another instead of trying to impose rules and regulations on everyone else, and then everything will work out just fine. :)

May 21 2012 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to T's comment

So christian have no love if they disagree with homosexuality. Nice ploy but it's not going to work. God created a man and a women without you would not be here. END OF STORY

August 24 2012 at 2:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Even Jesus himself would not be qualified to work at Shorter concerning the Shorter statement ...because he wouldn't tolerate the ignorance, hypocrisy, and bigotry this statement has.

May 20 2012 at 9:20 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to bulan924's comment

Since when has morals become ingnorance. You have been deceived. Are you gay? must be

August 24 2012 at 2:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, you are correct that Jesus would not be qualified to work at Shorter because he did not attend a Christian church. As a Jew, he attended a Jewish temple. Think about that one...!

August 28 2012 at 3:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The Bible also says I'm supposed to kill my neighbor if I catch him planting two different crops side by side. The Bible also condones slavery. Why don't you ignorant Christers follow those "rules" as well?

May 17 2012 at 1:46 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to brian's comment
Eddie Gateway

Geez, man..."the Bible says..."? That was an ignorant statement. You're Biblically uneducated and ignorant, which I'm sure you'll never change, so you can continue giving little dumb opinions about ...who...Jews and/or Christians? Join the crowd. Of course It's REALLY REALLY FINE to not place any faith in any so-called "Holy Books" or so-called 'Messiahs" or 'Prophets". You know're enlightened...modern!...they were dillusioned con artists..all of them, but at least comment with some academic integrity.

June 12 2012 at 1:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eddie Gateway's comment

Eddie the bible talks about not reply to a fool. The bible also talks about non believers not have a clue what the bible really means. THere agenda is to lose all morals and everything is ok. Do what you want or you hate. We can't explain morals and common sense to them. They have been deceived.

August 24 2012 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

It is a Baptist University....and I think their decision makes sense. If they allow this kind of activity, then it would be hypocritical and make an example that it is okay, when it is not. Sexual orientation is a choice. Those of you who disagree with that then...explain bi-sexuals. Seriously. Why would a man want to be with a man when he could be with a woman, and lesbians use toys, so why not get the real thing and be with a man. It is sick! We are a nation under GOD and I am tired of ignorant people trying to change it and take GOD out of everything! I am glad the University is not allowing anyone to change their beliefs and morals.

May 17 2012 at 11:56 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
8 replies to swtnovembergal's comment

How sad that I have become embarrassed to say that I am from Georgia, it seems that every Southern stereotype has reared it's ugly head. I agree that religious fundamentalism in ANY form is a danger and that if we are not very careful we may end up no different from the Islamic fundamentalist countries, except that we will have the "Christians" dictating how we as Americans can live our lives.

May 17 2012 at 10:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BARB's comment

There are many "Christians" that want a theocracy, but they rationalize and justify it as "different than what the Muslims do because they don't have the one true religion". As one told me, he has a "moral and ethical obligation to tell others they are doing wrong". They will never see the similarities between what they want and what radical Muslims want because they are RIGHT, and everybody who does not believe as they do is wrong, and must be saved from themselves. Thankfully, most Christians are not this way, and I would hope that those people would stand against the radical Christians if they should ever try to change our government.

May 17 2012 at 11:49 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Stephanie's comment

These people and the Taliban are two sides of the SAME coin. Pathetic.

May 17 2012 at 12:20 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down

Excellent post. Thanks
I get that school insists that its Biology faculty teach creationism. When you let doctrine trump science, you can't have good education. The Soviet Union allowed some of its doctrines, such as Lysenkoism, to influence their science and that set Soviet science (well, their biology, anyway) back by a couple of generations.

May 17 2012 at 12:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

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