Last October, news broke that Shorter University, a Christian college in Rome, Georgia, had decided to ask its employees to sign a controversial pledge that affirms that they are not engaging in homosexuality, among other forbidden activities. Now, after scores of employees refused to sign the document, the college, which is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, has reportedly received a massive number of resignations.
Rather than renewing their contracts with the private school, around 50 staffers (the NY Daily News reports that the number is closer to 60) refused to sign the “Personal Lifestyle Statement,” and simply decided to throw in the towel. The Christian Post has more:
Dr. J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, which Shorter is a part of, told The Christian Post that the “lifestyle statement” is consistent with the convention’s position.
“We have not taken a specific position related to the ‘lifestyle statement,’” said White, “but the history of our convention, which goes back to 1822, has approved many resolutions regarding homosexuality as a sin and alcohol use as ill-advised.”
Despite the outcry from some faculty and staff regarding the statement, White did not believe the measure would be overturned.
“I do not believe there will be any changes in the ‘lifestyle statement’ due to people who are opposed to it,” said White. “I think that at any educational institution the faculty and the administration are responsible for following the guidelines set by the board of trustees who provide this whole governance for the university.”
Plainly stated: the opposition to the regulatory mechanism isn’t likely to lead Shorter University to reverse course. Aside from forbidding an active role in a gay relationship, the lifestyle pledge also bans pre-marital sex, adultery and drug use and abuse. Additionally, employees are asked to be active members of a church and to live their lives as committed, Bible-believing followers of Jesus Christ.
“Shorter University will hire persons who are committed Bible believing Christians, who are dedicated to integrating biblical faith in their classes and who are in agreement with the University Statement of Faith,” the document reads. “Moreover, employees are expected to be active members of a local church.”
Michael Wilson, a tenured librarian who has worked at the school for 14 years, had originally planned to stay until retirement. Now, in light of the statement’s enforcement, he has handed in his resignation. Wilson, who is gay, naturally refused to sign the document, calling his choice “a matter of conscience.”
Below, see footage from a protest against the statement last November:
In October, university president Don Dowless defended the new policy, while claiming that the higher educational facility can both discriminate in its hiring practices and make specific requirements of employees.
“We have a right to hire only Christians,” he said. “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.”
For now, it seems Shorter University is digging its heels into its decision and will likely be in need of quite a number of new staffers. In responding to the latest news of mass departures, Dowless says that the university wishes those who choose to leave well.