Two professors fired over homosexual behavior, another resigns in protest
Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is under fire from within over its policies against homosexual behavior. Even protest organizers have been surprised that two rallies to change the policy drew about 50 people each time to unveil a 100-by-20-foot gay pride flag.

But University President Loren Swartzendruber, who took office in January, says the college is standing firm.

"I want to articulate as best I can the university expectation that, with respect to employment as well as student behavior, we will continue to follow our policy that sexual relationships are reserved for a man and a woman in marriage," he told the Richmond Times Dispatch. "That is the expectation of the Mennonite Church U.S.A, which is the denomination to which we are accountable."

At a campus forum Tuesday, Swartzendruber reiterated the denomination's stance. "While it can legitimately be argued that these are statements which may be superseded at some future point by a similar church process, this is where the Mennonite Church U.S.A. officially stands as of April 2004," he said.

Last year, two EMU professors were fired for engaging in homosexual behavior. Swartzendruber emphasizes that they were not fired for homosexual orientation. In fact, he said, two other staffers have been dismissed for heterosexual behavior outside of marriage. Swartzendruber also says that another gay faculty member did not have his contract renewed for next year, but that the decision had nothing to do with sexual orientation. That faculty member has appealed the university's decision.

Kathleen Temple, a heterosexual instructor in the school's Bible & religion department, resigned over what she calls "unkindness" toward gays and lesbians at the school. The school's website notes,

In addition to teaching classes at EMU, Kathleen Temple co-pastors Shalom Mennonite, a 'come-as-you-are' congregation that meets on EMU campus. Temple is especially interested in ways of integrating activism and spirituality. She enjoys writing sermons, Sunday school materials, and meditations.

There's no word on what Temple's resignation will mean for Shalom Mennonite.

Swartzendruber says the school is not unkind to homosexuals, and has repeatedly stated, "We will not tolerate bigotry, poor language, inappropriate comments about persons of any sexual orientation."

"Let's be honest," an editorial from the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg says. "Chances are a dittohead [Rush Limbaugh fan] would face more harassment at EMU than a gay person. … The dismissals indicate the university demands not only high academic standards but also high moral standards, which it should."

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EMU has an enrollment of 1,444. About 60 percent of the undergraduates are Mennonite. The campus's student newspaper, The WeatherVane, is surprisingly silent on the controversy.

More articles

Baylor University:

  • Baylor chief's e-mail takes critics to task | Launching a new volley in his ongoing rift with faculty, Baylor President Robert Sloan has accused some of orchestrating a letter-writing campaign against him (Houston Chronicle)

  • Bliss' attitude on academics faulted | Bliss himself never filled the role of educator and mentor to his players, several former players said in recent interviews. Instead, he steered players toward less-challenging courses and even discouraged loftier academic pursuits (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

  • Courting controversy | Even before the Baylor scandal, problems marked Dave Bliss' career (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

African Anglicans to reject funds from gay-friendly churches:

  • African churches take stand against gays | Anglican archbishops from Africa said Thursday they would reject donations from any diocese that recognizes gay clergy and recommended giving the Episcopal Church in the United States three months to repent for ordaining an openly gay bishop (Associated Press)

  • African clergy reject 'gay' funds | Africa's Anglican bishops have resolved to stop receiving donations from western congregations which support the ordination of gay bishops (BBC)

  • US church 'must repent' for gay bishop decision | African archbishops intensified the threat to the unity of the worldwide Anglican communion last night, and increased pressure on Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by insisting that the US Episcopal Church must be disciplined within three months unless it "repents" for electing a gay bishop (The Guardian, London)

  • Also: Conservative Episcopal churches ban bishop-elect | A man set to be Ohio's next Episcopal bishop has been banned from five northeast Ohio churches that disagree with his support of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire (Associated Press)

Mass. gay marriage:

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  • Mass. governor moves to block gay marriage | Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney filed emergency legislation on Thursday to freeze a court order that directs the state to issue marriage licenses to gay couples next month (Reuters)

Gay marriage elsewhere:

Religion & homosexuality:

Outing of Operation Rescue founder's son:

Religion & politics:

  • Candidates look to balance faith, policy | Since the days of John F. Kennedy, modern politicians have tried to have it both ways on matters of religion—espousing personal religious beliefs that at times are at odds with their public policy pronouncements (Associated Press)

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  • Polish bishops warn over EU polls | Poland's Roman Catholic bishops have urged their fellow citizens not to vote for candidates whose views are opposed to traditional Catholic teaching on issues like abortion and same-sex relationships in European parliamentary elections in June (BBC)

  • A Georgia preacher takes on Massachusetts | And its 100 percent Democratic congressional delegation may not remain intact (Lawrence Henry, The American Spectator)

  • A servant, not a god | Millions over the past century put their faith in civil governments to solve problems and close inequalities, but a look at the scriptural basis of the state should temper Christian expectations (Doug Bandow, World)


John Kerry & the Roman Catholic Church:

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  • Putting Kerry on the 'wafer watch' | If the church sets up a litmus test for politicians, what about for Supreme Court justices? What about for lay people who dissent? (Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe)

  • McCarrick to Kerry: Carry on | A genial liberal bishop proves no match for a renegade Catholic (George Neumayr, The American Spectator)

The Roman Catholic Church & politicians in general:

  • Candidates' politics can become a church issue | John Kerry and other Catholic politicians, including New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, are drawing increasing criticism from church leaders for not implementing public policies which coincide with church teachings (The Express-Times, Bethlehem, Pa.)

  • Catholic politicians scolded | Chaput rips backers of abortion rights (The Denver Post)

  • Salazar: Chaput over line | Attorney General Ken Salazar, the leading Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and a former seminarian, said Thursday Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput went "beyond the line" by criticizing Catholic politicians who fail to follow church teaching in their public lives (Rocky Mountain News)

  • Render unto Caesar | Chaput and his fellow bishops are within their rights to make such statements. But they risk reawakening the fear among non-Catholics about whether the official acts of Catholics in office might be dictated by the Vatican (Editorial, The Denver Post)


  • New high-rise has it all, but name may break cardinal rule | Use of the name Bernardinhas raised some eyebrows among officials with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, who say they have legal authority over the name and were not properly consulted about its use for the "luxury rental living" project (Chicago Tribune)

  • Wait casts worry on Damien sainthood | The Belgian priest renowned for his service to the Hansen's disease patients of Kalaupapa in the 19th century is one verifiable miracle away from sainthood (Honolulu Advertiser)

Life ethics:

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Church & state:

  • Separation of church, graduation sought | Eighty-five Lake Zurich High School seniors have signed a petition asking the school to reconsider its decision to hold graduation at Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church in Lake Zurich (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

  • Religious group faces tax charges | Three members of a religious group in New Jersey were arrested this week on charges of evading federal taxes, which the group says it refuses to pay because it doesn't want "the blood of those killed in warfare" on its hands (The Washington Times)

  • Which rules should we live by? | Maybe the reason we don't post the golden rule is because it would be so much harder to live than the Ten Commandments that we already make a hash of. But then difficulty begs the question: What rule would we rather have the law of our community, Ten Commandments or golden rule? (Roger Baker, The Deseret News, Salt Lake City)

  • Kenneth Starr now a lawyer and dean | Starr, appointed dean of Pepperdine University's law school, is perpetually courteous. He shared tips about how to argue a case at the Supreme Court when he met Michael Newdow, the California atheist who argued last month that the Pledge of Allegiance and its reference to God is unconstitutional in public schools. Starr is representing the mother of Newdow's daughter, a Christian who wants the pledge preserved (Associated Press)

Church life:

  • Kosher Christianity? | A Presbyterian church called Congregation Avodath Israel. What is going on here? (Jerome Marcus, The Wall Street Journal)

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Missions & ministry:

  • Missionary family fired upon in Guatemala | A gunman opened fire on a pickup truck carrying an American missionary couple and their six children on a Guatemala highway, wounding the parents and a 14-year-old child, police said Thursday (Associated Press)

  • Priests to promote peace in Colombia | About 100 Roman Catholic priests are planning a pilgrimage through some of Colombia's most dangerous regions to try to heal the scars of the ongoing guerrilla war, organizers announced Thursday (Associated Press)

  • The Gospel by hard sell | Do Christian promoters really need to conform to the secular modus operandi of holding events, which are uncannily similar to fêtes and jams, in order to win souls? (Ricky Jordan, Daily Nation, Barbados)

  • Preacher's practice is to fight gambling | With Few Resources, Roving Minister Takes On Big Casino Operations (The Hartford Courant, Conn.)



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  • Third Day, keeping the faith | Say, what was a Christian rock band like Third Day doing opening for Southern boogie kings Lynyrd Skynyrd? (The Washington Post)

The Passion:

  • High passions | Normally critical of the Catholic artistic tradition, Orthodox Christians have found much to admire in Mel Gibson's controversial new film (The Moscow Times)

  • Explaining The Passion | Egyptians, Muslims and Christians alike, flocked to view Mel Gibson's blockbuster The Passion of the Christ (Al-Ahram, Cairo)

Watch your tongue:


More articles:

  • Religion news in briefs | Catholic voters split between Bush and Kerry, Episcopal diocese cuts budget to offset contribution drop, City of Dearborn asked to close on Muslim holidays, Southern Baptists concerned over slow growth rate (Associated Press)

  • 'Hinduness' with vengeance | Schools offer Indians way out of poverty, lessons in religious bias (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Bunnies, eggs obscure Easter's truth | The Christian claim of resurrection and new life for Jesus is far more powerful than many of the more popular symbols used to celebrate it (Steve Gushee, Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

  • Man tries to rob Christian book store | A ringing door chime gave a Christian bookstore clerk and her young niece the opportunity to flee from an apparent armed-robbery attempt late Wednesday afternoon, authorities said (The Advocate, Newark, Oh.)

  • Snake-handling preacher dies after bite from rattler | The pastor refused medical treatment after a venomous bite during Easter services (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.—more extensive than earlier AP version)

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