Shorter's homosexuality statement makes news

ROME, Ga. (BP) -- A "Personal Lifestyle Statement" for employees of Shorter University has placed the Georgia Baptist school in the news.

The lifestyle stipulations, which employees of the university must sign or risk termination, is one of four new policy statements adopted by the university's board of trustees.

The lifestyle statement includes requirements that employees:

-- agree with the university's Statement of Faith.

-- be active members of a local church.

-- "reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality."

-- abstain from alcohol in public and in the presence of students and from the use, sale, possession or production of illegal drugs.

"The 'why' is really simple," trustee chair-elect Joe Frank Harris Jr. said in a university news release after the policy statements were adopted Oct. 21. "What you stand for matters. Proverbs 3:5-6 tell us to 'Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.' If we acknowledge Him, He will make this university's path straight."

Shorter's requirement that employees reject homosexuality has sparked media attention, with one gay newspaper anonymously quoting a Shorter employee identified as gay as asking, "Why is homosexuality so much worse than anything else in the Bible? Why does a homosexual deserve to be fired any more than an obviously egotistical person, or a lazy person, or a dishonest person?"

Shorter University President Don Dowless defended the statement, telling Atlanta TV station WSBTV that the school is not trying to offend anyone but rather declare its own identity.

"That is the biblical view. This is our view and anything outside that is not biblical, we do not accept," he said.

In addition to the Personal Lifestyle Statement, Shorter's new Statement of Faith outlines the university's adherence to 11 Christian doctrines such as the inerrancy of the Bible, the necessity of faith in Christ and the importance of evangelism.

In its "Philosophy for Christian Education," Shorter commits to "keeping an emphasis upon a biblically sound, integrated, faith-based education that promotes a zeal for academic, spiritual, and professional growth."

And in a statement on Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning, Shorter commits to academic excellence and spiritual vigor, "cultivating a campus environment that encourages spiritual, moral, and intellectual growth in concert with a biblical worldview."

Shorter's trustees also approved a new logo and seal featuring the university's motto, "Transforming Lives through Christ."

Dowless, in the university news release, said the trustee actions set forth "a continuing affirmation of our Christ-centered mission."

"We believe our strong academic programs and our absolute commitment to Jesus Christ will continue to attract stellar students, faculty and staff," Dowless said.


John Evans is a writer based in Houston. Links to Shorter University's new statements can be accessed via the news release at http://www.shorter.edu/about/news/2011/10_25_11_logo_statements.htm.

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