Profs resign at F. Graham’s alma mater over ‘gay’ marriage
Several professors at the Christian college from which Franklin Graham graduated resigned from their positions – rather than sign Montreat College’s covenant declaring their opposition to same-sex “marriage” and abortion.
Dedicated to teaching its students to honor and adhere to the Word of God, the inter-denominational institution of higher education is an inter-denominational liberal arts school located about half an hour from Asheville, North Carolina, and administration makes it mandatory that faculty holds to biblical beliefs regarding sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.
“Montreat College … is insisting that the school’s faculty agree to affirm and live in accordance with the school’s new ‘Community Life Covenant,’ which was recently added to staff handbooks,” The Christian Post (CP) reports. “The document defines what the school’s lifestyle expectations are and the most controversial elements of it is the call to affirm ‘the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman’ and the ‘worth of every human being from conception to death.’”
Opposed to biblical beliefs at a Christian college?
Even though many argue that the small private Christian college is merely calling for its staff to represent and support a biblical worldview, progressives on campus who have adopted a liberal theology on social issues and embraced secular humanism over the Bible are upset that campus politics does not represent the Leftist agenda promoted for eight years under the Obama administration.
“However, some students and staff are opposed to any language that condemns gay marriage and abortion – both of which are legal in the United States,” CP’s Samuel Smith pointed out.
In fact, many are accusing Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) President Franklin Graham for the new policy that the faculty must adhere to biblical principles.
“Many who oppose the covenant’s language on sexuality and life are blaming the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is headed by Graham and donated $100,000 to Montreat’s scholarship fund in March,” Smith informed. “Graham is widely known as a conservative commentator who opposes the LGBT and abortion agenda.”
Countering the accusation, Montreat College Director of Communications Adam Caress asserts that the covenant has been a work in progress for more than two years – a process that consisted of 13 listening sessions of dialogue between faculty, staff and alumni that addressed concerns over the covenant.
“The Community Life Covenant is rooted in core biblical values that have been central to Christianity for 2,000 years and central to the college throughout its 101-year history,” Caress wrote in an email, according to the Citizen-Times. “The Community Life Covenant does not represent a change in the college’s core beliefs, but is rather an affirmation of what the college – and orthodox Christianity in general – has always believed.”
He maintains that as a Christ-centered liberal arts institution, Montreat College expects its staff uphold Christian beliefs as they influence students on campus.
“The college believes that, in order to deliver the kind of Christ-centered education that it promises to students and their parents, college employees must affirm and support the biblical values which are the foundation of that education,” Caress continued.
The Bible or the world?
One part-time employee in Montreat’s English Department, Corrie Greene, chose to resign rather than sign the school’s covenant on biblical values, contending that she agrees with other staff that their views on biblical morality should be considered personal opinions – and not representative of the college.
“No. 1, for me, signing anything that has an expectation of 24-hour adherence for me was a red flag because I know myself and I know my own path of faith, and that is fluid,” Greene indicated, the Citizen-Times reports. “And I’m constantly being shown by God areas that I can improve on or change or think more deeply about. [It’s dangerous to be asked to] freeze my faith and testimony in one moment in time.”
Another faculty member at the Christian college, Maggie Ray, noted a number of complaints she had about the covenant she opted not to sign.
“Please be clear that I am not retiring but resigning,” she stated, according to the Citizen-Times. “That I agree or disagree with parts of the Community Life Covenant is not significant. My deep commitment is to academic and theological freedom to discern God’s will for my life, and to my own sense of personal integrity.”
Montreat officials stress that they are devoted to love and serve the community, regardless of its beliefs.
“Montreat College takes seriously the admonition to love our neighbor, serve our community and to care for the poor and the marginalized,” college officials expressed in an emailed statement, the daily noted. “We affirm the intrinsic value of all persons because they are all created in God’s image, no matter their religion, gender, race or sexual orientation.”
However, school officials also noted that they are committed to run the college according to God’s values – not society’s.
“We understand that people can and do have differing opinions about prevailing societal issues,” the email continued. “We do not seek to impose our values on those outside our campus community, but rather seek to model Christ’s love through caring and compassionate response when we disagree. However, as a Christian institution of higher learning, U.S. law protects the freedom of religious educational institutions like ours to hire and employ to mission based on sincerely held religious beliefs. These shared beliefs form the foundation of our Christian community.”
Both sides …
Montrat College Music Department Chairman Kevin Auman, who is a professor of music business, signed and supported the covenant.
“The document didn’t seem unusual to me – I didn’t see anything new,” Auman told the Charlotte Observer. “And it’s not out of sync with what I believe as an elder in a Presbyterian Church.”
The 50-year-old Auman, who has been employed for 17 years at Montreat, is a member of Christ Community Church, which is part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church that does not perform same-sex weddings. He says he respects his colleagues’ decision to not sign the covenant, but stressed that the covenant does not affect the college’s open enrollment policy for students.
“We are welcoming no matter what they believe in and whether they’re gay or straight,” he pointed out. “If there was even a hint that I would be expected to treat those students with anything less than genuine love, care and respect, I’d be out of here.”
Another professor, a 31-year-old adjunct professor in Montreat’s music business department, Matt Langston, refused to sign the covenant along with his wife, who serves as a college counselor, and both will leave the college in June. He says his friendships with “gays” and lesbians gave him reservations about signing the document – saying he believes it gives the school too much control.
“Any time you have an employer basically wanting to have a say or control of your personal, spiritual and religious life, I think that’s a really dangerous precedent,” he said, according to the Observer.
Montreat College Spokesman Mark DeMoss stated that Franklin Graham and BGEA did not spur the covenant in any way, and that the signed agreement just affirms the school’s mission.
“BGEA had no role,” DeMoss impressed, according to the Observer. “There is a 70-year relationship between the college and the Graham … family, with many gifts being given over the years from individual Graham family members and the BGEA.”
Franklin Graham recently affirmed his biblical take on marriage in February when addressing LGBT funding.
“… Almighty God created and defined marriage in His Word,” Graham stated in a Facebook post, according to FaithFamilyAmerica.com. “Any sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sin, and all sin carries a death sentence.”