University To Staff: Pledge You’re Not Gay To Keep Your Job

Shorter University, which describes itself as a “Christ-centered liberal arts university dedicated to academic excellence within the context of a biblical worldview,” is requiring that all of its 200 employees sign a “personal lifestyle statement” declaring their heterosexuality and rejecting homosexuality, adultery and premarital sex. Part of the statement says:

“I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality.”

Teachers and administrators at the conservative Christian school are also banned from drinking alcohol in front of students and must be active members of their local churches.

The university’s president, Don Dowless, says that the goal of the pledge was to “declare who we are”  and was not meant to offend. The Board of Trustees has released this statement, which makes it very clear that only certain individuals are allowed and welcome on Shorter University’s campus:

… The desire of the Board of Trustees was to clearly state our beliefs and put them in a form that would be readily available for anyone who wanted to know more about our university. We are a Christ-centered institution committed to excellence in academics. Through our policies, we seek to honor Jesus Christ. We understand that there are those who do not agree with our beliefs. We are not trying to undermine their right to those beliefs, but want to be transparent about our own.

All employees of the university will be required to sign the policy documents as a condition of continuing employment. This will be part of the faculty contract and staff agreement renewal process next year. Anyone who chooses not to sign the documents will be choosing to end their employment with the university. The documents are currently a part of the hiring process for any new employees coming to the university.

One gay employee of the university — who chose to speak anonymously — said in the Georgia Voice that the pledge has aroused the fear of witch hunts:

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.

While the pledge is only directed to employees, students are understandably worried that they may be required to sign such a pledge, too:

Tamara King Henderson, a student at Shorter who says she is bisexual, commented on the Georgia Voice story that she was concerned the pledge could impact her education. “This could hurt the University’s ability to attract the best and the brightest professors available… [and] ability to receive federal funds.”

WSB-TV says that, because Shorter University is a private institution and does not receive public funds, it is legal for it to require employees to sign such a pledge.

Shorter University’s requirement that staff members sign the “personal lifestyle statement” suggests that, in contrast to some of what is said in its own Mission Statement, providing a “quality higher education” is not so much one of its goals, as is ensuring that members of its community adhere to particular beliefs and “lifestyles.” Dowler also said that ”Anybody who adheres to a lifestyle that is outside of what the biblical mandate is, what the board has passed, including the president, would not be allowed to continue here.” Dowler’s words are quite open-ended: Will LGBT students at some point be included among those “anybodies” who  ”would not be allowed to continue” at Shorter University?

Related Care2 Coverage

Georgia Public Schools Blocking LGBT Websites?

Victory for Constance: School District Agrees to Pay Lesbian Teen $35,000

Profs Create Freedom University For Undocumented Students




Photo by bastique


Carrie H.
Carrie H5 years ago

Board of Trustees how many of them are cheating on their wives? show many will be let go because of it? This one will show extreme discrimination. Because they will get rid of those they think are gay they will get rid of the woman who is cheating and they will get rid of the woman who divorces her husband for having an affair or beating her. But they will keep most the men who cheat! I hope no federal dollars are going to this school not in the form of grants or student aid. My tax dollar should not support religion in any way.

Mary S.
Mary S5 years ago

First, no college that preaches discrimination and hate as part of their mission statement should receive one penny in federal aid, period.

James E.
James E5 years ago

"Institution of higher education"

"Best and the brightest"

Terms not really descriptive of institutions like Shorter.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W6 years ago

Sorry but I am going to FAVOR Shorter University's commitment to being a Christian school and to hire whomever they want. That is the American Way.

But I would also REMOVE their college accreditation. That is ALSO the American Way.
After all, I don't believe Bob Jones U deserves accreditation either!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

I don't know if this is against the law, since it is a private "christian" college, .... but why would anyone want to work or attend in such an environment??!! Horrors.

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago

Christians? Petition signed.

Lynn Squance
Lynn S6 years ago

I sigbed the petition.

Please look at other articles like:
'Michigan Republicans Allow Bullying If ‘Religiously or Morally Motivated’ (Video)". and "Gays Result of Satan Interfering with Fetuses"

These will show you just how warped these Republican so-called Christians are. They have the right to their own religious beliefs but they do NOT have the right to impose them on others. Watch the videos in the Michigan article and tell me you are not moved by a father's love for his dead son. See the utter disgust of a Michigan Democratic Senator speaking to the changes in the anti-bullying bill --- she was passionate and almost in tears. read the comments of Joslynne Davidson in the comments section of that article. I was so moved that I copied them.
It is fine for us to comment 'how disgusting' or 'very sad' (I am not intentionally pointing fingers at those that said those words), but what are the vast majority of Americans doing to combat this psuedo Christianity and its vile doctrine of hate and intolerance? It is creeping into everything because of the Republican/Teabagger agenda and all Americans have a duty to speak out about the destruction of their country by these Christian fundamentalist zealots.

Cristina F.

Yuck. This is why I don't think universities should be founded on religion. Everyone deserves an opportunity to higher education, and educators should be free to their jobs regardless of gender, race, orientation, political mindset, and beliefs. Disgusting.

Kathryn E.
Kathryn Edwards6 years ago

I wish we could give these people that call themselves Christians (in name only) one state that they can run as they wish. Texas comes to mind (sorry to some of you that are really Christians or not) Texas puts to death so many people and have so many strange laws already they could leave the rest of us alone that want to be open minded and wish to continue to make America the best country it can be.

I have no idea how they get this way but it's not by reading the New Testament where Jesus preaches LOVE not hatred.

Give these whining hypocrites a state so they can live in peace and so can the rest of us.

The rest of us need to speak up and stop this bigotry and non-science that is destroying America the so called land of the free.

Ron Samuels
Ron Samuels6 years ago

The limited exposure that students receive in these kinds of "educational institutions" will short-change them when they are exposed to the reality of life outside these smothering and bigoted walls. Yes, we in this country have the freedom to be exclusionary, hateful, discriminatory, bigoted, and anti-science, so long as we are not receiving federal funding.