Shorter University, a Christian college in Rome, Georgia, is asking its employees to sign a controversial pledge that affirms that they are not gay.
The document, called a “Personal Lifestyle Statement,” also requires staff members to refrain from committing adultery and premarital sex.
All new hires will be forced to sign the document and current staffers will also be required to sign it when their current contracts are up for renewal. “Failure to adhere to this statement may result in disciplinary action against me, up to and including immediate termination,” the document reads.
University president Don Dowless is defending the new policy, saying, “We have a right to hire only Christians.” Dowless went on to say:
“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.”
The college defends this new pledge and says that anything outside of the guidelines would not be Biblical and would not be permitted by staff. The Associated Baptist Press has more:
Joe Frank Harris Jr., chairman-elect of the [university’s] board of trustees, said the statement approved by the board Oct. 21 was needed for faculty and staff “to understand the mission of Shorter, understand that we are a school of Baptist heritage, and that we are an institution of the Georgia Baptist Convention.”
“They must understand the environment in which they work, and they must be loyal to that environment,” Harris said.
While the college stands by these ideals, some university staff members are nervous, as they fear that disgruntled co-workers might accuse their fellow workers of being gay out of spite. The GA Voice reports:
Shorter University’s new “personal lifestyle statement” has left employees afraid of witch hunts, according to one gay man who works at the Southern Baptist college in Rome, Ga.
“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,” said the employee, who declined to reveal his name due to the policy.
But the new policies don’t simply target adultery, homosexuality and premarital sex. University staff must also pledge not to drink alcohol when students are in view; additionally, they cannot promote the consumption of alcohol.
Dowles is defending the employee statement as something that other Christian colleges and universities embrace. Shorter is able to legally institute the pledge, because the school doesn’t receive receive federal funding.