No Homos Need Apply

Am I hopelessly cynical, or what?

According to the online outlet Newser, a Georgia Baptist college, Shorter University (Motto: "Transforming Lives Through CHRIST"), has some specific expectations for its employees:

The conservative Christian university is demanding that its 200 employees sign a "Personal Lifestyle Statement" rejecting homosexuality, adultery, and premarital sex, the New York Daily News reports. Those who don't sign the pledge face losing their jobs. "I think that anybody that adheres to a lifestyle outside of what the biblical mandate is would not be allowed to continue here," the school's president says.

Drinking alcohol in front of students or in public is equally verboten. Being active members of a local church is mandatory. I found this story amusing, thinking: Well, what can you expect of an institution that's dedicated to a particularly doctrinaire religious teaching? Then I read this story in the GA Voice, a Georgia LGBT news outlet, which was contacted by a Shorter employee:

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.

The interview includes this:

Some might say that you made a decision to work at a Southern Baptist university, and it is no secret that the Southern Baptists are not supportive of gay rights. How do you respond?

I made the decision, I own it, and I'm proud to be a Christian. I don't see homosexuality as being any less congruent with Christianity than judging people, sexual deviance, dishonesty, pride, lust, envy, sloth, etc. My response is simple: Why is homosexuality so much worse than anything else in the Bible? Why does a homosexual deserve to be fired any more than an obviously egotistical person, or a lazy person, or a dishonest person?

No sin above any other ... we're all sinners and I don't see that trying to force a person who commits the sin of homosexuality out of the organization as being morally justified if we're not going to force every single sinner out of the organization.

The bottom line is that I am a gay Christian and I made a decision to be around other Christians. I'm not alone and it is sad to see organizations shun people like me. I'd assume that if you're a strong Christian, you wouldn't need to turn those away who sin and instead you'd welcome them with open arms because they love Jesus.

Reading that, I felt bad about my cynical dismissal of a world that happens not to be my own. The need to choose among conflicting emotional, cultural, and religious identities is exhausting, as Mimi Swartz explored so thoughtfully in The New York Times Magazine earlier this year. I suspect, now, that Shorter will try to figure out which employee contacted the Voice and that she or he will indeed have to find a new job. A glance at the other stories in the Voice reminded me, soberingly, that not every place in this country is as welcoming as the Northeast corridor. I wish him or her good luck living a meaningful spiritual life and finding a rewarding work community that has room for every kind of sinner.

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