A private university has lost at least 50 staff members since last fall, when it began requiring that employees pledge to “reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality.”
Shorter University, a Baptist school in Rome, Ga., forces employees to sign a “personal lifestyle” statement that contains four principles of conduct:
• The employee be loyal to the Christian-based mission of the university, which is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
• The employee not engage in the use, production or distribution of illegal drugs.
• The employee not consume alcohol in the presence of students, including in restaurants, theaters and other venues students might visit.
• The employee “reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality.”
New hires must sign the pledge as a condition of employment, and current employees must sign the pledge as a condition for contract renewal.
The mandate from the university president states, “Failure to adhere to this statement may result in disciplinary action against me, up to and including immediate termination.”
Numerous civil rights groups said that Shorter may be a private institution with the right to require the pledge, but that doesn’t make the pledge acceptable.
Georgia civil rights advocates called the statement an anti-gay loyalty oath similar to the pledges teachers and other public officials were required to make during the Red Scare of the 1950s.
Since the school began requiring the pledge, about 50 people have resigned.
Others have formed a group called Save Our Shorter or SOS, which has a website and Facebook page where resigning staff to post their statements. The most recent post is from a tenured professor who rejected her contract.