Thursday, November 03, 2011

Georgia "University" Seeks to Weed Out Gays

When a supposed institution of higher education seeks to impose loyalty oaths and similar batshitery on faculty and students, one would hope that accreditation authorities would take a serious look at withdrawing the institution's accreditation since obviously quality education and the pursuit of knowledge and truth have been thrown out the window. A case in point is Shorter University, a Southern Baptist-affiliated college (what a surprise - NOT!) in Rome, Georgia, that is beginning to require faculty and staff to sign a "personal lifestyle statement" that bans homosexuality and other condemned sexual activities. I'm surprised the nutters haven't banned all sex not utilizing only the so-called missionary position. It would be the logical extension of the batshitery. Needless to say, gay faculty and staff are terrified of the coming witch hunt - not that I can fathom why anyone gay would want to work at a Baptist affiliated institution. Employers seeking the best and the brightest recruits ought to delete Shorter grads from the list of interviewees. Religion Dispatches looks at this institutionalized bigotry and the disservice the leadership is doing to its students; Here are highlights:

It's not shocking that a Southern Baptist school would include such a statement — and as a private institution, it is within its legal rights to do so. Employees who happen to be gay and Christian, however, are now in fear for their jobs. One employee told the GA Voice that they now fear witch hunts and vendettas because of the new statement.

Certainly, those who don't like it can find new jobs and Shorter will have the employee base it wants — good, obedient, homogenized Christians who gladly sign a list of beliefs and adhere to the letter of the law.

This is the real problem, however. Any organization, be it the military, a school, a church, or even the local bridge club, that seeks to purify itself from any dissent or diversity automatically dooms itself. Organizations that force its members to conform — even if they do it gladly and eagerly — cuts itself off from the source of any future growth. What causes growth among groups is most often disagreements, differing points of view, or different understandings of the world around them. To automatically shield itself from the necessary messiness and conflicts of community, Shorter is doing itself — and its students — a disservice.

While some employees may find the statement comforting, human beings cannot live too long in the shell of unbending religiosity without suffocating. What seems to die off first is any tolerance for difference, and any compassion one might have for others outside their tight circle. It's a human trait to want to be among the like-minded — but it is in the challenges and crises of community that real human freedom is found.

As German theologian Eugen Drewermann observed: "Truth can't be fixed in a certain formula. We can never possess a doctrine that is valid once and for all, or have a statement for which we give up everything and go through the world threatening all those who don't recite it in the proper way. Some ways of becoming human can be crushed by fear, but we must dare to try, no matter what it costs."

Shorter's threat to its employees and faculty over this statement is born of fear. If they allow themselves to be crushed by that fear, what it really costs them is their humanity.

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