College employees must agree to no premarital or gay sex. No drinking where students might see them.

Shorter College employees must sign a Personal Statement agreeing to no premarital or gay sex or public drinking where students may see them. (Shorter College photo)

Shorter University employees must sign a Personal Statement agreeing to no premarital or gay sex or public drinking where students may see them. (Shorter College photo)

The AJC has been hearing from folks about Shorter University’s decision to require employees to sign a “Personal Lifestyle Statement” forbidding premarital sex, adultery and homosexual sex.

The Personal Statement also requires that employees be active members of a local church. And the employees must agree to not drink in public places where students may see them, including restaurants, concerts and sports events. Nor can they attend a Shorter function if they consumed alcohol six hours prior to the event.

As strict as these rules may be, the private Baptist college has a right to do impose them.  I talked to AJC higher ed writer Laura Diamond who told me that a law professor who is an expert on religion explained that the policy is legal in Georgia and many other states.

(The school has had a policy since 2008 to hire Christians only who adhere to strict interpretations of the Bible.)

The policy does not impact students’ ability to get federal loans because the college serves as pass-through and the money belongs to the students not the college.

Its mission statements says: Shorter University is a Christ-centered liberal arts university dedicated to academic excellence within the context of a biblical worldview. As a Christian university, Shorter is committed to keeping an emphasis upon a biblically sound, integrated, faith-based education that promotes a zeal for academic, spiritual, and professional growth.

But not all alums of the college are happy with the new policy and are rising up in protest. There is now a petition to stop the policy.

Among the more than 1,331 alums who have signed the petition is one who wrote: “Both my wife and I are graduates from Shorter (2001). There was a time that I was proud to be a Shorter graduate. I definitely feel that I received a quality education. At the moment, I am embarrassed, and I am seriously considering mailing back my diploma.”

According to the AJC story on this issue:

Don Dowless, president of the Christian university in Rome, said anyone not signing the statement, which also requires staffers to reject premarital sex and adultery, faces termination.

“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,” Dowless told Channel 2 Action News.

One person described as a longtime employee told GA Voice, a publication covering issues affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, that the new policy has some staffers fearful that a disgruntled co-worker could accuse another as being gay out of spite.

A student who didn’t want to be identified told Channel 2 that the university is judging others, contrary to what the Bible teaches.

New employees will have to sign the statement and existing employees will have to sign it to renew their contracts.

“Failure to adhere to this statement may result in disciplinary action against me, up to and including immediate termination,” the statement says.

Students, however, are not required to sign the policy.


–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

172 comments Add your comment

Tony

October 29th, 2011
4:10 pm

Jesus sent a harsh rebuke to the legalists, pharisees and saducees or His day. This action is a sad commentary of the legalism run amok among today’s Baptists. Actions like this do not work to “transform lives through Christ,” but harm the message of the divine Gospel.

catlady

October 29th, 2011
4:34 pm

And students are free to leave (and should) if this is the way this “institution of higher learning” wants to operate.

I don’t buy the arguement that Shorter COLLEGE can do whatever it wants because it serves as a “pass through” for federal aid. That financial aid is SPENT at that college, to pay tuition, room and board, etc. SO, it goes to the college. The students would not get the aid if they were not going to college (it’s not like an auto loan). IF Shorter College (how many PhDs do they offer?) wants to fund its students all by itself, with no federal or state aid for students, fine, then they can require anything they want, but they will have to pay the piper themselves. I think the law prof is full of it. See the Oral Roberts U case.

J sebastian

October 29th, 2011
4:39 pm

I would run as fast as I can from such an institution. Blinded children becoming blinded adults,,,,, Face the music, this world, God made is filled with diversity. Wake Up!

CJ

October 29th, 2011
5:14 pm

a Christian University with Christian standards makes the news now? What in the world…
I suppose they would have been better off if they had said they were now gay-friendly and ‘tolerant’…the Bible doesn’t change, Tony and others.

BTW, Tony: what ‘church’ do you beloing to that would see allowing unrepentant, immoral professors as aiding transformation of lives through Christ? Jesus said “Go and sin no more”….Jesus also preached on hell over 16 times, and in Revelations 2:18-29, He rebuked the church at Thyatira as follows:”Misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols”….God’s Word never changes…you can love the sinner, and bring the sinner to Jesus as we all came from sin, but don’t change what God’s Word has clearly spelled out.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
5:18 pm

if y’all picked on a Muslim school for doing the same thing, the outrage and lawsuits would be from coast to coast…what hypocrisy.

crystal

October 29th, 2011
5:19 pm

In Salem, all you had to do to be accepted back into the community was sign a confession of consorting with the Devil. If you refused to sign, you were obviously evil and sentenced to imprisonment and death.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
5:25 pm

Crystal, that’s an apples versus oranges analogy, as an institution of higher learning is a choice.
This is not about the students, it is about those in power/influence over the students.

If you can’t behave yourself or choose another ‘lifestyle’ incompatible with the school’s philosophy, then you should teach somewhere else. Choice is a wonderful thing. Teach elsewhere where your values are more clearly represented.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
5:28 pm

crystal–in this country, at least for now, you can choose where you want to work, go to college, etc.
In Salem, Mass. (I lived there as a small child, BTW), there was no freedom of religion, just hysteria in the community. A private Christian college can teach the doctrines of the Bible in America without harrassment (well, until recently)…

crystal

October 29th, 2011
5:34 pm

It’s all in the Biblical interpretation, CJ…..Yes, Jesus would say “render under Caesar,” but I think he would consider this also about Man and Man’s needs, rather than honoring God and building the good relationships with each other Jesus required of us.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
5:38 pm

that school has freedom of religion in a free country to uphold Biblical standards in whom they hire to influence the students. I think it is really interesting that the students are free, where in most conservative colleges, the student must also sign a pledge of some sort. Sounds like they are showing a lot of grace, as the professors are not told they cannot drink alcohol, but to only be careful as to how their behavior influences others.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
5:42 pm

the hippies of the 60’s always had a saying, “live and let live”…funny how that same generation has taught their kids and grandkids to sue anyone who disagrees with you religiously, instead of just walking away, and going to another school.

catlady

October 29th, 2011
5:55 pm

So, can the staffers have heterosexual, married sex IN FRONT of the students?

I don’t think a school can “profit” with taxpayer monies and “rules” like this. I sure don’t want MY money going to a school like this, and if the students are allowed to get federal aid, that is yours and my tax dollars.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

October 29th, 2011
6:05 pm

I am an atheist and I support this policy choice by Shorter college 100%. The most precious right of al is the right of association. I get to choose WHO I will associate or do business with, and so do they. It is nobody else s business..including the vile collective’s !

reebok

October 29th, 2011
6:06 pm

i hope students respond to this by transferring out and staying away from shorter in droves.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
6:10 pm

Catlady–they’re not profitting from your taxes, the loans follow the students…funny how you take up for public schools, yet they have crazy rules, step on my religion and others’ all day long, yet I have to pay for it!
http://aclj.org/ContentSearch?q=christian+colleges+who+accept+federal+funds&t=JusticeFile%2CLegalDoc&x=46&y=22
this group fights for the religious freedom of colleges such as shorter.

Elizabeth

October 29th, 2011
6:31 pm

This is a CHRISTIAN college. Like all other religions, including the SECULAR nonreligion that permeates and dominates our public educational institutions, Shorter has a right to require students and employees to pledge to follow Biblical principles. That is not judging. Judging comes when one of these principles is broken and people condemn the behavior of the individual.because others are influenced in a way that does not follow the principles endorsed by Shorter. Bill Clinton was crucified and judged both by SECULAR and religious communities when he committed adultery in the White House. Yet, when a CHRISTIAN college asks people to follow Christian ( Biblical) principles while attending a Christian university, secular and atheist nonbelievers feel free to act as if this requirement is unreasonable.

As a teacher, I am bound by a code of ethics. If I violate this code, I am subject to dismissal. When I sign my contract every year, one of the provisions I agree to is not to violate the code of ethics. Those who do not wish to follow Shorter’s “code of ethics”, i.e., the Bible, need not apply to work or study there. It is called freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. You have a right to your beliefs; Shorter, as a religious institution, has just as much right to insist that those who work and study there follow the principles of the institution. If you want to be free FROM these beliefs, do not attend or work at Shorter. Your rights and beleifs do not trump theirs. That is why this country was founded — to give all the right to practice their beliefs. Shorter is not imposing their beliefs on others. They are simply saying that you must adhere to them in order to be there. There are other institutions for those who disageee. Find one.

Make no mistake, Christians are under attack in this nation. If Shorter were Muslim, there would indeed be lawsuits– to make certain that they could practice their beliefs unhindered. It seems that Christians are losing that right. It scares me and outrages me.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
6:40 pm

well stated, Elizabeth! Freedom of religion is a right.
College faculty positions at Shorter College is a privilege, NOT a right in a free society.

Interesting how a Catholic Christian private school is being forced by some Muslims to add a prayer room for those who worship Allah, even though it is a PRIVATE college! I hope they continue to fight that one in the courts. It’s ridiculous, the double-standard. Try forcing a Muslim private college to add a prayer room for Jews or Christians: won’t happen, either in this country or anywhere else.
You are right, we are living on the edge of major persecution. Come, Lord Jesus.

Ann

October 29th, 2011
6:41 pm

I was a student at Shorter University not long ago when all of the legal battles with the Georgia Baptist Convention were happening. It was an exciting and nerve wracking time… the overwhelming majority of students, faculty, and administration did not want to be under the thumb of the GBC, and I think the people who decided it was time to try and succeed from the GBC were inspired to do so because of Mercer’s separation not long before. However, the GBC won, and whereas they had been a benign presence in the school before, they began to make an example of Shorter.

When I was at Shorter, it was already a Christian school. We had a certain number of Chapel attendance requirements we had to fulfill, and there was plenty of emphasis on Christian values, but I never felt it pushed on me. I actually opened up quite a bit as a Christian. I’d grown up in a Christian family and church, but I’d never really connected with it on a truly spiritual level until I got to Shorter. It was a loving atmosphere… very accepting and inclusive. I found intelligent discourse on spiritual matters with my peers, and always felt welcome to talk with my professors about just about anything. Many of those professors didn’t go to a local Baptist church (although many did, and I attended with them), and several of them were gay. It didn’t make one bit of a difference to me. These were good people, and they were wonderful professors.

Shorter is a private college, so yes…. they absolutely can do whatever they want within the limits of the law. My question is why? They’re not fixing anything, and in matters of the faith, Shorter was already a shining example. Of course they will not make students sign a Personal Lifestyle Statement, but that is because they can’t do that, lest they want to lose funding for scholarships. The GBC has slowly been taking control of the school. There are changes that I am fine with… requiring faculty members to be Christian, while narrow minded, is understandably their right and makes sense with a Baptist college. But to require things beyond the reach of the campus, such as making adults agree to not have a glass of wine out at a dinner on their own personal time, or to require that they reject homosexuality as acceptable, is not right, and does not send a message of love and acceptance to the students.

If Shorter were really interested in following the example of the Bible, they’d follow its greatest theme and lesson: love. Not judgement (for that is His job alone), not intolerance… but love. I’ll leave this with my favorite verse on this exact thing – 1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Kilroy

October 29th, 2011
6:43 pm

yeah, everyone who goes there will sign the stupid pledge and then drive off somewhere else to partake in life on the weekends.
Reminds me of that stupid Bob Jones college in SC where it was illegal for interracial dating. Moronic. Oh yes! It’s an attack on Christians! We MUST pledge our virginity to God and disavow any drinking! Jesus wouldn’t like it! Meanwhile the chicks are humping anything w/ a zipper when they’re away! I so loved those catholic chicks on the weekends, they were wild!!!

no surprise

October 29th, 2011
6:47 pm

What’s with these people and alcohol? Jesus turned water into wine…he had no objection to drinking alcohol.

CJ

October 29th, 2011
6:52 pm

Ann–Read Revelations 2:18-29 and tell me that this Jesus is the same one whom you say said not to ‘judge’. If you take those two Scriptures together, judging is NOT what you say it is: calling sexual sin what it is: immorality. Is Jesus unloving, or are you taking God’s Holy Word out of context?

CJ

October 29th, 2011
6:54 pm

it’s about employer and employee code of ethics. Every workplace has it. If you can’t abide by the rules, you don’t get hired/keep your job.

This has nothing to do with the students, only EMPLOYEES.

[...] via College employees must agree to no premarital or gay sex. No drinking where students might see them….. [...]

crystal

October 29th, 2011
7:10 pm

Sorry, CJ, it impacts the students. The students may not be required to sign but it sends a clear message that this is acceptable behavior for employers, and those who are not employees. God does not ask us to sign anything. Agreement comes from within. Only Man requires signing a form as a measure of one’s religious beliefs. Oh, I’m sorry you feel like a persecuted Christian. I always thought belief in God should bring one joy.

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
7:16 pm

They should also ban divorced students and employees. Certainly not allow any divorced remarried women from working there. Jesus said God hates divorce.

Also anyone caught praying in public should immediately be expelled or fired. Jesus said God hates public prayer. Pray in private!!!!!

Truth

October 29th, 2011
7:16 pm

I think it makes perfect sense for a Christian organization to require that its employees follow Christian principals. What’s the big deal????

CJ

October 29th, 2011
7:37 pm

catlady–Elisabeth was the one who said it scared and outraged her. I have joy, and I’m sure she does too!. The Lord coming back is a joyful event for us. I fear for friends and family left behind.
Crystal–whether it does or doesn’t send a message is their choice and right as an employer of a private college.
If you work for someone, and I’m sure you probably do, you understand that an employer retains the right to hire and fire who they want to, correct?

CJ

October 29th, 2011
7:41 pm

Truth–the big deal is those who want to squash their religious freedoms.

You and I understand what the constitution says about the creator granting certain inalienable rights/freedoms, but some others are still bound by the god of this world who wants to enslave, their choice.

catlady

October 29th, 2011
7:43 pm

Truth: the problem is the source of the money to pay these staff members. A high percentage of the students get federal aid; very few pay their own way 100%.

CJ, the money follows the student, into the college’s pockets. In fact, after the college “awards” the loans/grants, and the money “comes in”, the college takes its cut out BEFORE disbursing anything left over to the student. Most students get NOTHING back out of this money, as it does not pay the whole bill.

I agree folks should work where they are philosophically comfortable, BUT THEY SHOULD NOT BE PAID WITH TAX MONEY WHEN THEY DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PROTECTED STATUS INDIVIDUALS!

CJ

October 29th, 2011
7:43 pm

Dannyx–if you think their rules are unfair or unBiblical, why don’t you write them a letter and complain?

CJ

October 29th, 2011
7:47 pm

catlady—tell the GBC about it. I have no idea where all of the money comes from.

I’m sure it is legal to receive those funds, as the ACLJ/ACLU are not in a war over it as we speak.

Keep in mind, my tax dollars pay for PPH abortions, sex indoctrination in public schools, etc., etc.

GAE

October 29th, 2011
8:01 pm

OK….a Christian school wants its employees to abide by Christian principles. What is so wrong about that? True followers of Christ have control over their bodies anyway. If someone wants to work there, they will follow the mandates. If you think that you cannot do that, choose a different employer. The only people who probably have a problem with this is liberals who emphasize “love” but relegate “self-control” as a non-essential.

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
8:06 pm

“Dannyx–if you think their rules are unfair or unBiblical, why don’t you write them a letter and complain?”

Why do Christians think they can pick and choose?

Tee

October 29th, 2011
8:15 pm

I AM REALLY NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY BUT IT DO NOT SEEM RIGHT TO TELL SOMEONE TO SIGN OR NOT WORK , IF I WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THEY FELT THIS WAY I WAOULD NOT HAVE GOT MY Undergraduate AT SHORTER

j223

October 29th, 2011
8:18 pm

I worked at Shorter College/University…a really good Christian school. Shorter University is now a sub-par school that pretends to be Christian. It’s pretty sad to watch a bunch of righteous people run a good school into the ground. Really confusing on what they were trying to accomplish with this????

CJ

October 29th, 2011
8:28 pm

j223–basic Biblical rules about controlling your body causing this much issue? Unbelievable. I’m with GAE: any truly born-again person has no issue with these basic rules anyway.
I mean, it’s not like a dress code or how long to wear your hair, etc.

jim

October 29th, 2011
8:33 pm

Way to go Shorter!!! Your institution has the backbone to stand up for what the Bible defines as the family and to recognize that the biggest threat to the family is the gay lifestyle. The biggest threat to America is destruction from within which is being fueled by gays and other horrifically misguided lifestyles. Thank you Shorter for starting a tide against this perversion.

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
8:37 pm

“Way to go Shorter!!! Your institution has the backbone to stand up for what the Bible defines as the family and to recognize that the biggest threat to the family is the gay lifestyle.”

LMAO! The biggest threat to the family, by far, is DIVORCE! Jesus said nothing about gay people, but had something to say about DIVORCE!

Divorce is a CHOICE!

jim

October 29th, 2011
8:41 pm

Um Danny…the bible said that he who layeth with another man shall surely be put to death. Unfortunately, as a gay man, you know nothing of what the bible says. you refuse to acknowledge it. Sad. Repent

jim

October 29th, 2011
8:43 pm

I will agree danny that divorce is a threat, absolutely. but not nearly as big of one that preaches that the family is dad and dad, when the bible clearly says the family is man and woman…

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
8:44 pm

“Um Danny…the bible said that he who layeth with another man shall surely be put to death.”

Um, jim, Jesus said nothing about gay people. He sure did speak out against DIVORCE!

What makes places like Shorter and the Baptist church think they can ignore JESUS?

jim

October 29th, 2011
8:44 pm

and in hell, with their handcuffs and liberal beliefs, they lifted up their eyes…

jim

October 29th, 2011
8:45 pm

Shorter is leading by example Danny…get the moat out of your eye and read…

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
8:47 pm

In Luke 16:18 Jesus says:
Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

j223

October 29th, 2011
8:47 pm

CJ, do you work there..or have you ever been there? Or do you just troll around on this website? I left because the emphasis was being shifted away from academics and teaching to image and sports programs. This is an example of the powers that be want to instill another “image” of the school. I saw people that worked there being demoted because of rumors about sexual orientation and religious beliefs. Yes, rumors! Image is very shallow if the people running the show have little morals…regardless if they make everyone else sign a piece of paper.

GreatATLGuy

October 29th, 2011
8:48 pm

Shorter will soon implode because of this action, or as my mom used to say, “cut off its nose to spite its face. Shorter is about as “Christian” as Jim, CJ and Elizabeth’s thoughts are. This exclusionary, bigoted action is backwoods thinking at its worst. There is nothing Christian about it.

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
8:56 pm

King David and Jonathan were gay lovers.

There was a lot of heat there, and passion.

jim

October 29th, 2011
8:57 pm

I think Shorter will be prosper for following divine guidance to put aside major threats to personal morality. Hate the sin, love the sinner…but whatever you did, annihilate the sin or it will annihilate you (and our society).

jim

October 29th, 2011
8:59 pm

DannyX, you’re a lying, misguided sick man. And in hell e lifted up his eyes..David did commit a sin, he had Bathsheebas husband put in the front line to die in battle so he could have her. That sin cost him his sons life. Once again, read and don’t just believe the filthy lies of your homo brethern

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

October 29th, 2011
9:00 pm

CJ What in the world is “sex indoctrination in public schools”? Was that an elective I somehow missed? Sounds much more interesting than “Spanish II”.

I consider myself a Christian…though many of my fellow Christians likely do not, as I am one of those rare breeds known as a “liberal” Christian (worse than an atheist to some)… and I totally disagree with Shorter University’s viewpoint on what consitutes a true danger to the soul.

However, I do support their right to establish their own code of ethics as a private university.