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Staffers leaving Shorter University over required anti-gay lifestyle statement

Monday, May 14, 2012
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ROME, Ga. — A tenured librarian at Shorter University is the latest among nearly 60 staff members to leave the Christian liberal arts college over the school’s ban on gay employees.

Michael Wilson, a 14 year employee at Shorter, resigned last week after refusing to sign a required “Personal Lifestyle Statement” against homosexuality.

Last October, the college announced a policy to require its more than 200 employees to sign the pledge against homosexuality, adultery, premarital sex, drug use and drinking in public.

The “lifestyle statement” also requires faculty to be active members of a local church, and is one of several steps the university has taken to intensify its Christian identity after the Georgia Baptist Convention began asserting more control over the campus six years ago.

The requirement has provoked an uproar among faculty, alumni and observers, reported the website Inside Higher Ed.

Before the new contracts were circulated, more than 50 members of the faculty and staff who felt they could not abide by its rules, or did not feel they should have to, resigned. Wilson stayed.

But when he was offered his contract for the academic year, he signed and returned it, but 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.”

“It’s a matter of conscience,” Wilson said.

Wilson is one of nearly 60 staff members who are leaving Shorter 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.”

Several departments, including science and the fine arts, have been “eviscerated,” Wilson said.

The university’s president, Don Dowless, said in October that any staffer not signing the agreement faces immediate termination.

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