WENHAM, Mass. — All seven members of the faculty Senate at a Christian college in Massachusetts have resigned after a professor who has advocated for changes in the evangelical school’s policies on homosexual behavior was recently denied a promotion.
According to reports, Margaret DeWeese-Boyd, an associate professor of sociology at Gordon College, recently filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, claiming that she had been denied a promotion because of her criticism of the school’s policy over the past four years.
Gordon College, which according to its website, aims to “deepen the faith [of students] by integrating Christian beliefs and practice into all aspects of [the] educational experience,” prohibits sexual activity outside of marriage in its Life and Conduct Statement—including between those of the same sex.
The school also holds to the scriptural position that God created the woman for the man, as outlined in the book of Genesis.
“The Gordon community is expected to refrain from any sexual intercourse—heterosexual or homosexual; premarital or extramarital—outside of the marriage covenant,” an explanation of the college’s policy on homosexuality reads.
Gordon notes that its lifestyle statement does not refer to those that struggle with attractions to those of the same sex, but only prohibits engaging in homosexual behavior. The school’s policies also forbid drunkenness, profanity, blasphemy, lying and other behaviors that are contrary to biblical law.
DeWeese-Boyd has specifically been a vocal opponent of the college’s policy on homosexuality, and has organized training sessions and events surrounding homosexual rights. The faculty Senate had recommended that she be promoted, but in February, Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay declined to upgrade the associate professor to a full teaching position.
DeWeese-Boyd then filed a complaint, and on April 5th, it was announced that all seven members of the faculty Senate had resigned. According to the Boston Globe, while DeWeese-Boyd was not specifically mentioned, the Senate said the resignations regarded the president’s decision not to heed their recommendations for promotion.
“Gordon’s president and provost were quite surprised to learn just a few hours before a regular monthly faculty meeting … that the seven members of the Senate had decided to resign from their elected roles as faculty representatives in the promotion and tenure review process,” college officials said in a statement.
“The administration continues to believe that a highly effective Senate facilitates the flourishing of Gordon’s faculty and will work with them to resolve the impasse in this situation, especially where perspectives clearly differ on the process and outcomes,” it read.
Gordon College spokesman Rick Sweeney also told reporters that the college has “strong and pointed disagreement” with DeWeese-Boyd’s allegations in her discrimination complaint, but declined to elaborate, citing a desire for privacy in personnel issues.
As previously reported, Gordon College first came under fire in 2014 after President Lindsay was found to be among those who signed a letter to Barack Obama requesting that a religious exemption be included in the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which bars the government from contracting with “discriminatory” organizations.
In an online message to Gordon College students and staff, Lindsay explained that he signed the letter out of his belief that religious entities should not be punished for being faithful to the Scriptures.
“My sole intention in signing this letter was to affirm the college’s support of the underlying issue of religious liberty, including the right of faith-based institutions to set and adhere to standards which derive from our shared framework of faith, and which we all have chosen to embrace as members of the Gordon community,” he wrote.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this report identified DeWeese-Boyd as an assistant professor. She is an associate professor.