Private University Requires Morality Pledge: Yay Or Nay?

On the national political level, right now all the chit-chat is about Herman Cain’s potential downfall via sexual harassment charges. And Rick Perry’s New Hampshire speech that turned into a series of Howard Dean-esque “BYAAAAAH”s over and over again. Of course, I do love how “The Daily Show” put it all together

But, really, it’s been getting harder and harder for me to care about national politics at the moment. Everyone running for president on the GOP side that has or has ever had a chance at nomination seems to be either a complete moron, a flip-flop store or a crazy person. Sometimes some combination of those.

So, running into small politics stories sometimes interests me a lot more. Especially if religion gets involved. This time, the story is about Shorter University telling their faculty and staff that they need to sign a morality pledge.

This should be fun.

Shorter, located in Rome, Georgia, is a private Christian university. I’ve been there before, it seems alright. Personally, I prefer nearby Berry College, since it has neat stuff like being the largest college campus by area in the world and having more deer than students. But that’s beside the point.

If you read the article I’ve linked, you’ll find that Shorter is requiring its 200 some-odd employees to sign a “Personal Lifestyle Statement,” and The New York Daily News reports that those who don’t sign the pledge may lose their jobs.

In the pledge, there is a rejection of homosexuality, adultery, premarital sex, a ban from teachers drinking alcohol in front of/around students and a requirement that employees be active in local churches.

Doesn’t that sound swell?

There isn’t really much here for me to violently react to. It seems so needlessly silly and obvious exactly the many things that are wrong with this. The employer is attempting to control behavior and enforce a morality clause of their own creation AFTER having already hired the people. This is something that should have been included in the hiring process, not added in as an addendum ex post facto. It also reminds me of ridiculous laws, like the anti-sodomy laws that Texas and the rest of the country were forced to overturn after the U.S. Supreme Court said no. I mean, how exactly do you check in on someone having premarital sex unless A) they tell you or B) you break their privacy like woah.

Then there’s the alcohol thing. Are students banned from drinking? What if a 21+ year old student goes to the bar and happens to see one of his or her professors there? I’ve seen many a grad student AND any a professor at the local haunts in Tuscaloosa, most often the Downtown Pub and Wilhagan’s. It’s not like such a situation is impossible to dream up. Would that professor be fired for drinking in public and having a student randomly show up and see him or her doing such? Pretty sure that Jesus and the disciples drank in view of other people before. And, not to be too asinine, because I’d never be that, but what about participation in Communion? If they go to a church that happens to serve wine for Communion and a student also attends that church… what then?

Which brings me to the part that actually annoys me the most. Which is saying something. The pledge requires employees to be active in local churches. Not only is that forcing a religion/religious activity on somebody, it also is extremely unfair. What if the employee finds no local church they feel comfortable with or agree with? And how active is active? Do they just get to attend on Sunday mornings? Must they sing in the choir or head a committee or teach a class?

But here’s the kicker: It’s a private university. That’s where everything kind of falls apart. As a private university, it may very well be that they DO have the right to demand certain moralistic actions of their choosing from their employees. It could be that they are separate and unaffected by the laws that more strongly govern public, government funded universities and colleges. If, for example, The University of Alabama did this, you can bet they would be backpedaling within a week, if not a day, due to the huge uproar it would cause. But Shorter, being a tiny, private university, and a Christian one at that, may well be within their rights to perform such stunts, as repulsive, annoying and un-Christian as it may seem.

What do you think? I personally think they shouldn’t be doing this, especially for things so private and personal as sexuality and sexual activity so long as it doesn’t break the law, and I think there are good, Biblical reasons not to do this, too. But it is a private university, so I recognize that they can do it whether they should or not.

…isn’t it great when the answer is unclear?

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