SALEM, Mass. — A Christian college in Massachusetts has announced that it will take at least a year to review its policy prohibiting homosexual behavior in light of scrutiny from a local accreditation board.
Gordon College near Salem recently issued a statement that included an outline from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) following its discussion as to whether the college’s policy violates the organization’s accreditation standards. The policy also forbids fornication, drunkenness, profanity, blasphemy, lying and other behaviors that are contrary to biblical law.
“At its meeting on September 18, 2014, the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education considered whether Gordon College’s traditional inclusion of ‘homosexual practice’ as a forbidden activity in its Statement on Life and Conduct was contrary to the Commission’s Standards for Accreditation,” the statement outlined.
The matter surrounds a letter that was submitted to Barack Obama this year that requested that a religious exemption be included in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which bars the government from contracting with “discriminatory” organizations. As previously reported, Gordon College President Michael Lindsay was among the numerous entities that signed the letter.
After Lindsay’s participation came to light, Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll sent a letter to Lindsay, advising that the school could no longer manage the Old Town Hall because it opposes sexual activities between those of the same gender. The NEASC soon followed in suggesting that the college’s policy could be problematic.
Now, Gordon College has advised that it will review its policy for the next twelve to eighteen months to consider whether or not it should be adjusted.
“The process will involve convening a working group of 20 representative trustees, faculty, administrators, staff and students to study the matter and conducting a series of robust discussions among a variety of Gordon constituencies to learn from them,” the statement read. “Any change in Gordon’s current policy is a responsibility of its Board of Trustees.”
The college further outlined that, among other plans, “[o]ver the coming months the group will meet with different stakeholders (including alumni and supporters) and discuss the various dimensions of Gordon’s current practices and protocols as they relate to homosexuality. The group will also be reading a number of books and articles on various issues surrounding this topic and they will benefit from the insights of outside experts as well. Those trustees and administrators who are part of the group will share their observations and experiences with the full Board of Trustees at its winter meeting.”
The NEASC has requested that Gordon College then submit a report next September outlining its review process and its conclusions “to ensure that the College’s policies and procedures are non-discriminatory and that it ensures its ability to foster an atmosphere that respects and supports people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds.”
But Gordon College states that its accreditation “is not is not in jeopardy, as its admission and employment policies have always been in full compliance with the NEASC Standards for Accreditation and with nondiscrimination employment law.” It also declares that the college “remains as committed as ever to its foundational evangelical commitments and Christian educational mission.”
Nonetheless, some are concerned about what kind of conclusion the board of reviewers might reach.
“Surrendering to the spirit of this age may seem like prudence to some who would encourage Gordon College to go beyond the requests of its accrediting agency and drop its convictions on sexuality. But at what cost?” wrote Collin Hansen of the Gospel Coalition. “Meanwhile the one who ‘upholds the universe by the word of His power’ (Heb. 1:3) told His disciples in the most famous sermon in human history, ‘Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'”
Photo: John Phelan