Shorter University, a Baptist college in Georgia, is requiring employees to sign a document rejecting homosexuality. Shorter President Don Dowless says people who don't comply could lose their jobs. Here's what you should know:
What is this university up to?
It's trying to purge its staff of gay employees. But that's only part of the story. Shorter's board of trustees is demanding that all 200 of the university's employees sign a "personal lifestyle statement" promising to abstain from any behavior prohibited by the Bible, as the Georgia Baptist Convention interprets it. Not only is homosexuality forbidden, but so is premarital sex, adultery, drug use, and drinking. "Anything outside that is not biblical, we do not accept," Dowless said.
The fundamentalist Georgia Baptist Convention won a court case in 2005 giving it total control over Shorter, including the right to name all of the members of the board of trustees, according to the Georgia-based Baptists Today. Ever since, the trustees have been trying to bring the school's policies in line with the Georgia Baptist Convention's mission. The new personal behavior policies and an oath of loyalty approved last week were merely a visible, controversial example of that change.
How has the policy been received?
The reaction has been decidedly mixed. One closeted gay Shorter employee told the Georgia Voice that most elements of the new policies seem reasonable enough — any employer wants loyal employees — but singling out gays raised "the possibility of witch hunts." A group of Shorter graduates, current students (who don't have to take the pledge), and former faculty members have launched a petition protesting the policy. They plan to hold a demonstration this month. But Dowless says it's perfectly reasonable — and legal, since the private school receives no federal funding — for a religious school to expect its employees to follow its mission. "We have a right to hire only Christians," he tells The Christian Post.
Sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Baptists Today, Christian Post, Georgia Voice, Jezebel
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
Subscribe to the Week