Huffpost Religion

Michael Wilson, Gay Librarian, Rejects Shorter University Christian 'Lifestyle Statement'

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Robin Holt-McLaren
Robin Holt-McLaren

Michael Wilson, an openly gay librarian at Shorter University, signed the university's amended contract after crossing out the "lifestyle statement" requiring all employees to reject, amongst other practices, homosexuality.

“It’s a matter of conscience,” Michael Wilson, a tenured librarian who has worked at Shorter for 14 years, told Inside Higher Ed. The move effectively ended his tenure, though he is waiting to officially hear back from the university.

According to Inside Higher Ed, over 50 faculty and staff resigned even before the new contracts were out. According to an anonymous survey, only 12 percent plan to stay.

Amongst the clause rejecting homosexuality, adultery, premarital sex, drug use and drinking in public, the amended contract also requires all faculty to actively engage in a local church.

According to New York Daily News, Shorter University has been affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention since 1959, but it wasn't until 2001 that the organization began exerting a heavier muscle, including selecting Shorter's board of trustees without any say from the institution.

As a result Shorter board members decided to break from the convention. Georgia Baptist sued, claiming Shorter University did not have the right to run independently.

As Inside Higher Ed reported the school lost the suit, became part of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and stricter changes were immediately implemented including the introduction of a lifestyle statement in every employee's contract. It was around the same time that Wilson was offered tenure.

"Religious fundamentalism in any form (Muslim or Christian) is sheer lunacy in today's divided, fractured, and tormented world," wrote Sherri Weiler, a tenured professor and guest columnist for the Rome News-Tribune. "Where is today's American Taliban? At Shorter University."

To Wilson leaving Shorter is "wrenching," but something that he can't stand by. "I'm a pretty quiet person. But I perceive this as a great injustice."

The university has not yet responded to Wilson's contract, though it seems unlikely that the university will agree.

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