elf: Stained glass interlocking pentagons (Law of Fives)
elf ([personal profile] elf) wrote in [community profile] debunkingxian2012-05-16 11:52 am

Shorter University: is that even legal?

Shorter University, a Baptist college in Georgia, has been making news by requiring its employees to sign a "lifestyle pledge" including the statement,

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

So far, over 60 staff members have quit over it. It's getting a lot of attention. What's not getting nearly as much attention? The statement of faith they have to sign, which apparently went into effect last October.

The statement of faith includes "We believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. ... Salvation is not possible apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ, and those who die without receiving Jesus as Savior go into everlasting torment and eternal separation from a loving God." Professors are required to submit details of how they'll work evangelism into their class materials.

Is that... is that legal? I know that religious organizations are allowed quite a bit of latitude in moral codes for hiring and such; are they allowed to flat-out say "we only hire people of [X] religion?" Don't we have rather large federal laws that forbid that kind of religious discrimination?

This is a spot where religious freedoms smash up against civil rights. I have no idea what the case law supports. I know that secular companies are allowed to have "moral codes" but aren't allowed to hire-or-fire based on religion per se; I don't know how those laws are applied to religious orgs. I'm not sure if this *is* a "religious organization" in a legal sense; nothing obvious on the website says it's a nonprofit. (Are there for-profit religious companies, with different rights from nonreligious ones?)

Wow, can I have a Pagan business and insist that my staff be Pagan? Can I require my clients to uphold Pagan ideals while I'm doing business with them?

One article says "I understand that Shorter University is a private institution, meaning that it does not receive federal funding and therefore that it has not violated any laws." But that's about the lifestyle pledge, not the statement of faith. Are businesses--and a college is a business--allowed to dictate the religious beliefs of their employees, as opposed to requiring "moral behavior" in their private lives?
herlander_refugee: My tattoo'd back to the world (Default)

[personal profile] herlander_refugee 2012-05-16 07:31 pm (UTC)(link)
:::head desk::::

No, not my head. One of theirs, they are not using their brains to any great effect anyhow.
pj: (Default)

[personal profile] pj 2012-05-17 03:07 am (UTC)(link)
I would think the statement of faith is no different than their other paperwork requirements. No federal funding, no federal laws. But if the faith statement is somehow different then this is a perfect case for the ACLU.
pauamma: Cartooney crab holding drink (Default)

I'm not sure there are rhetorical questions, but in case they aren't - also, IANAL

[personal profile] pauamma 2012-05-30 01:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow, can I have a Pagan business and insist that my staff be Pagan?
Probably not insist, in its "demand" meaning. But depending on the goods or services your business provides, Pagans are likely to be more familiar with those, and thus it may make sense to prefer them for some positions (eg, sales or customer service), even though for others (such as IT, HR, and other support positions) it would be harder to justify.
Can I require my clients to uphold Pagan ideals while I'm doing business with them?
If you mean "while they're in your store", that doesn't sound unreasonable to me (but I'm not familiar with the specifics of Pagan ideals or your version thereof, so YMMV).

OTOH, making that change after hiring them, as the college apparently did, sounds much more dodgy(*) to me.

(*) Dear language brain centers: thanks for your offer of "(not) kosher" as a description of that move. However, considering the context, I don't think it's appropriate, for all that I enjoy the wordplay. Sincerely - your friendly neighborhood internal editor. PS: thanks to kaberett for the alternate suggestion.