A Baptist university in Georgia is requiring all its employees to sign a "personal lifestyle statement" rejecting homosexuality. And if they don't, they'll be fired.
According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Shorter University issued the statement at left on Oct. 26. It requires signers to affirm four principles, one of which is "I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality." Employees must also agree not to drink alcohol in public ever, or to drink anywhere within six hours of a university function. All new and existing employees will have to sign, and Shorter president Don Dowless has confirmed that those who don't will likely be fired: "I think that anybody who adheres to a lifestyle that is outside of what the biblical mandate is and of what the board has passed, including the president, would not be allowed to continue here."
At least one of the college's 200 employees privately identifies as gay, and told the GA Voice (anonymously, for obvious reasons) that the new policy could result in persecution: "We now will live in fear that someone who doesn't like us personally or someone who has had a bad day will report that we've been drinking or that we are suspected of being gay." Students won't have to sign the petition, but many are displeased with the new policy. Shorter alum Megan Cone wrote to us to explain that the college could once be a supportive place:
I chose to attend Shorter because I wanted to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre and it was the only college in the state of Georgia that offered that particular degree. [...] During my years at Shorter (2004-2008), I was exposed to students and faculty who ran the gamut in faith and morality beliefs, and I feel this was to my benefit. Being challenged to defend my beliefs in an articulate and non-defensive way and being surrounded by people of other cultures and faiths helped me solidify my personal faith. I was in classes with teachers who offered their own beliefs and opinions and encouraged their students to question and explore and debate in a non-judgemental manner. I can especially see now how they were helping us become adults by giving us the opportunity to reason and decide truths for ourselves, rather than blindly following the truths with which our parents raised us or the "truths" that are all too frequently described as Christian beliefs.
But now, she says, that has changed:
I am so embarrassed by my alma mater right now, and I don't want to have to remove the name of Shorter from my resume. But I have continued working in the theatre world since graduation, and I don't feel like I can go into auditions with a resume that states I attended a college that now promotes bigotry, intolerance, and injustice.
Other alums, current students, and former faculty have launched a petition protesting the new lifestyle statement, and a protest is planned for November. Maybe the administration will learn from its students that Christianity doesn't have to mean intolerance.
Shorter University Requiring Staffers To Reject Homosexuality [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Shorter University Employee Speaks Out On New Policy On Homosexuality [GA Voice]