I know that, in Fundamentalist Christian Land, they want to keep their heads in the sand and pretend that there are no gay people among them, nobody different from them, etc. Therefore it’s common for fundamentalist schools to force their employees to sign “lifestyle statements,” wherein they proclaim their fealty to whatever that particular institution’s version of fundamentalism entails. My high school had one, even for the parents. It was taken seriously by a handful of people, as I remember.
Shorter University in Georgia has a new policy in place, wherein new hires and employees renewing their contracts have to sign a document that, among other things, declares that they will not engage in any sexual conduct outside [that particular school’s interpretation of] Biblical teachings. It’s causing a bit of a controversy:
Christopher Robbins at Gothamist points out that the president of the university thinks it’s “fair” to ask a gay teacher to fundamentally change who they are. This is of course ridiculous, but it is also legal. It doesn’t speak well of Shorter as an institution of higher learning for students actually seeking an education, but it’s legal.
One gay employee at the university is speaking out, anonymously of course:
“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.
He also elaborated on the policy at hand:
The policy has a few major parts:
a. Be an active member of a local church
On the surface, this isn’t so sinister. Shorter is a Christian school. However, there are no guidelines here. What is “active?” Does it mean simply attending or does it mean participating in the various groups and clubs within the Church? How are we to be measured as meeting this requirement? Further, I would say that this requirement automatically rules out any church that is obviously gay-friendly. Were I to report that I attend a Metropolitan Community Church or other church that had a strong GBLTQ outreach, it would raise immediate questions to the fundamental Baptist administration of the school. So, I do not feel free to worship where I choose as a gay Christian man.
d. I will reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.
This is interesting to me because the statement could have been less offensive if the examples were not included. Why key in on any of them if all sexual activity that isn’t in agreement with the Bible is prohibited? To me, this hints at an anti-gay stance. When taken in context with the very vague comments made by current Board Chairman Dr. Nelson Price in the Rome News Tribune, I would say that doing these things will get you fired.
It also seems to place homosexuality in a different category. By that, I mean that adultery and pre-marital sex are, in fact, choices. Homosexuality is not. I know this point is up for debate in the fundamental Christian world, but to the rest of the world, we know that it isn’t a choice. Without getting in to that whole debate, it does seem anti-gay to hone in on something that is not a choice and that has so few references in the Bible when compared to the myriad heterosexual “thou shall nots.”
He had a lot more to say, so click that link above to read the whole interview.
As I pointed out above, this is all legal. The greater point here, I think, is to recognize just how cloistered from reality Fundamentalists strive to be. They would describe this as being “in the world, but not of it,” but that’s just something they tell themselves while trying to rationalize the fact that they listen to crappy knock-off versions of “music” and aren’t allowed to read Harry Potter. And they render themselves so ignorant that they actually believe that it’s possible to have an institution of higher learning without gay employees, and that it’s reasonable to ask any employees who are gay to just go ahead and stop being gay.
There is a student petition out, demanding that the board and administration of Shorter stop asking employees to sign this bogus “lifestyle” pledge, so go sign it.