Home Career Eastern Union suspends Christian Council meeting over LGBTQ stand

Eastern Union suspends Christian Council meeting over LGBTQ stand


Eastern’s membership in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities has been suspended following changes in Eastern’s stance on hiring LGBTQ employees.

The university, located in Pennsylvania and affiliated with the American Baptist Churches of the United States, previously prohibited hiring or retaining LGBTQ employees. He rescinded the policy in May, citing the campus’ interfaith community and its diverse theological positions on the issues. At the same time, the university added sexual orientation to its employment non-discrimination policy for the same reasons.

That put the university at odds with the CCCU, which said hiring policies should be consistent with the “historical Christian view of marriage.” (Religious news service the first reported CCCU Eastern membership is suspended this week.)

Eastern said in a statement that its policy adjustments “reflect that Eastern is a broad academic community that includes a wide range of Christian churches, faith communities and traditions that have come to different conclusions about the issues of marriage and human sexuality.”

As for CCCU, Eastern said its membership “is suspended for the current academic year. CCCU is considering promoting our status. We respect the CCCU’s right to determine which institutions belong to the organization.”

Making it clear he was speaking only for himself, Eric G. Flett, a professor of divinity and culture at Eastern University, said Tuesday that he supports the policy change because “I have friends who are members of the LGBTQ community, like in the academic, and in the Church. I have benefited greatly from their gifts, and I find policies that exclude, punish, and silence them to be discriminatory and unfair. I’m happy for them that this policy is overturned, and I’m happy to be identified with an institution whose commitment to justice led to this decision.”

Amanda Staggenborg, CCCU spokeswoman, said in an email that the council is a “membership-based association. Our members represent over 35 different denominations. CCCU supports institutions and their faith heritage. While Eastern University is on a membership hiatus for this academic year, we respect their decisions regarding the mission and values ​​they represent.”

Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College were the first member institutions of CCCU change your policy to allow the hiring of married or celibate gay and lesbian faculty (since sex outside of marriage is prohibited regardless of sexual orientation) in 2015. This caused a split within CCCU, with some other member institutions leaving or threatening to do so. Eastern Mennonite and Goshen, both of which are affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA, eventually withdrew from the CCCU voluntarily to avoid splitting the board. Bluffton University, another Mennonite institution, left CCCU later in 2015 when it said that he will start hiring gays and lesbians.

Following those departures, the CCCU said it would change its membership status to “pending” for other institutions that have similarly changed their hiring policies, and set up a task force to review. Eventually, the CCCU also launched various levels of membership, with “ruling” voting member status reserved for institutions that define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Eastern University is no longer listed as a member on the CCCU website.

Eastern still requires faculty and administrators to sign the extension a doctrinal statement asserting his Christian beliefs every year. (Non-Baptists are excused from testimony only in the chapter on water baptism.)

Calvin University said This fall, faculty may drop a required article of faith that deems sex outside of heterosexual marriage a sin. Calvin, based in Michigan and affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, remains a governing member of the CCCU.

In recent months, Whitworth and Seattle Pacific universities have done faced pressure from campus groups to support hiring openly gay. Both are “collaborating partner” institutions within the CCCU, which leaves them some flexibility in their LGBTQ hiring policies.

Asked whether Eastern and Calvin signaled a future trend, Chris Gertz, a history professor at Bethel University (another CCCU institution), who writes about Christianity and Christian education, joked that historians “predict the future terribly.” And even though he felt “more qualified as a prognosticator,” he said, “I would hesitate to predict anything based on the cases of Eastern and Calvin.” why? Like the Mennonite institutions that left CCCU in 2015, Eastern and Calvin “are associated with denominations that do not fit in with white American evangelicalism. Eastern is an affiliate of the American Baptist Churches of the United States, a theologically diverse mainline body. Calvin is the main university of the Christian Reformed Church, a historically Dutch group whose members do not all identify with evangelicalism.”

Hertz also finds it difficult to imagine that CCCU members will “find it easy to address the LGBTQ debate because their constituents are not the same. If Christian universities try to reassure senior members that they are not straying from their theological convictions, they could simultaneously alienate students and young graduates who increasingly support same-sex marriage and grow into the next generation of donors and parents on whom these schools depend. .”

Likewise, he said, CCCU members “often want to maintain faith-based connections, but that may require them to take a position that conflicts with the values ​​of potential partners in the corporate, nonprofit and public sectors.”

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