Baptist School's Antigay Pledge Drives Faculty Exodus

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com May 14 2012 8:15 PM ET

Faculty and staff members are leaving Georgia-based Shorter University in droves due to the school’s new requirement that they sign a “lifestyle statement” renouncing homosexuality, among other things.

The website Inside Higher Ed reports that at least 50 employees have resigned from the Baptist university, which last fall announced plans to incorporate the lifestyle statement into faculty and staff contracts for the upcoming academic year. The statement asks that signatories reject “homosexuality, adultery, premarital sex, drug use and drinking in public near the Rome, Ga., college’s campus,” Inside Higher Ed notes. “It also requires faculty to be active members of a local church.”

In the past decade, the Georgia Baptist Convention has been strengthening its control of the university, resulting in the statement and other developments. Some employees are fighting back, starting a group called Save Our Shorter. Some departments, such as science and the fine arts, have been “eviscerated” by the resignations, said Michael Wilson, a librarian at the college’s satellite campus in Atlanta, who has become a spokesman for those opposed to the lifestyle statement.

Last week Wilson, who is gay, returned his signed contract to university administrators but crossed out the line reading, “I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.” So far he has not received a response from the university, he told Inside Higher Ed, adding that refusing to agree to the statement was “a matter of conscience.” Read more here.