Dear Commons Community,
A tenured librarian at a Georgia Baptist university is refusing to sign a “lifestyle statement” against homosexuality, adultery, premarital sex, drug use and drinking in public.
“It’s a matter of conscience,” said Michael Wilson, who has worked at Shorter University in Rome, Ga., for 14 years, to the website Inside Higher Ed. The New York Daily News reported:
“Nearly 60 staff members are leaving because of policy changes at the school, according to Save Our Shorter, a group fighting to “reveal the truth about what is happening on the Shorter campus.”
Shorter University has been affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention since 1959, but its troubles with the convention didn’t begin until 2001, when the organization sought to take more control of the school, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The convention began to delegate the school’s trustees, prompting Shorter’s board to vote to cut ties with the organization.
The Baptist group filed suit, arguing that Shorter could not unilaterally become independent, and won.
In 2008, the school joined the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, known for hiring mostly only evangelical Protestants, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Wilson, who is gay, continued to work at the school, but notes that the atmosphere began to change at that time, as Shorter grew stricter under the convention.
But in October, the announcement that employees would be required to sign the “lifestyle statement” appeared to be the last straw.
The statement, which also required faculty to be active members of a local church, sparked controversy on campus as several staff members resigned before they were even circulated.
Wilson waited, read the statement, and returned his with one line crossed out:
“I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.”
Congratulations to Mr. Wilson.