A Baptist university in Rome, Georgia, in the US has demanded that its employees sign a statement pledging they are not gay. Any employee who fails to sign risks losing his employment at the University.
Shorter University demanded, on October 26, that its 200 employees sign a "pledge of personal lifestyle" statement. In the statement, employees are required to pledge, not only that they are not homosexuals, but also that they will not engage in "all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality." The pledge also covers non-sexual activities and behavior which violate Biblical teachings, such as use of drugs and alcohol. All employees are also required to be active in a local church. By signing the pledge, the employee agrees that, "Failure to adhere to this statement may result in disciplinary action against me, up to and including immediate termination.'
The president of the school Don Dowless, in an interview with Atlanta's WSBTV, made it clear that any employee who fails to sign the pledge could lose his job. Don Dowless said, "anybody that adheres to a lifestyle outside of what the biblical mandate is would not be allowed to continue here." The president also told staff members that the University was exercising its right to employ only Christians. WSBTV reports Don Dowless said: "Our goal is not to offend people. Our goal is to declare who we are...That is the biblical view. This is our view and anything outside that is not biblical, we do not accept."
An employee of the university, speaking anonymously with Georgia Voice, a pro-LGBT paper, says many University employees are already in fear of a "witchhunt". The employee said students were not happy with the pledge:
"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."
The new rules, according to Daily Mail, also require new employees must sign the pledge, and those already employed, when their contract comes up for renewal. Daily Mail reports the Board of Trustees of the University approved the "pledge of personal lifestyle" on October 21, among other measures, which include, "Policy for Christian Education," the "Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning," and "Statement of Faith."
UPI.com reports the students of the University are not being asked to sign the policy.
WSBTV reports some students approve of the new policy. A student, Michael Loredo, said: "Being the Baptist institution that it is, I can see where they're coming from." But another student, a sophomore, who, for obvious reasons, did not want to be identified, said: "The Bible says, ‘Thou shall not judge.’ Who is one person to judge what somebody else does? It's none of their business...It's taking it too far, I believe."
According to The Daily Mail, Shorter University's new policy is legal because it does not receive federal funding.