Friday, June 22, 2012

Shorter Sighted

I recently received an e-mail from the liberal activist group, one of the few e-activist groups I still allow e-mails from, urging me to sign a petition urging a small liberal arts college in Georgia to reinstate Michael Wilson, a librarian who was forced to resign for being gay, in his job.  The college in question is Shorter University, which is affiliated with the Georgia chapter of the Southern Baptist Convention.  (I think you can tell where this is going.)  Shorter University, once autonomous and relatively tolerant of non-evangelical employees, has pretty much fallen under the thumb of the Georgia Baptist Convention.   Its staffers have now been told to sign a pledge proclaiming that they are not gay, that they do not engage in premarital sex, that they attend church regularly, and that they do not drink in the presence of students or at public events.   As a result of this pledge, most of the staffers at Shorter, including Wilson, who worked at a branch campus, have chosen to quit instead, eviscerating several academic departments.
The mission of this evangelical Christian liberal arts (???) institution is to transform lives through Jesus Christ, though even Jesus, who was at heart a philosopher, probably would have wanted any "university" founded in His name to transform lives through critical thinking.  Such a thought process is the last thing Shorter or any other "university" of its ilk wants to bother with.  While Liberty University and Regent University in Virginia, Bob (Bob?) Jones University in South Carolina and Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma are the big guns of the fundamentalist diploma mills, there are many more such schools that encourage a "Christian" lifestyle (which apparently doesn't involve turning the other cheek or abstaining from judging others) throughout these United States, and it can be accurately said that, as universities, they are hardly worthy of the term.  As for Shorter University – which I had never heard of before today, which should have sent alarm bells ringing in my head when I did – its chief distinction is in the trivial.  It’s the home of the first indoor swimming pool in the United States, its most notable alumni are athletes, and two of its graduate degree programs are in – you guessed it – business.
There’s a sad irony to this – Michael Wilson, the librarian in question, actually liked his job at Shorter and the school valued him for his good work – at least before Shorter fell under greater control of the Georgia Baptist Convention.  Wilson shouldn't want to regain his job with an institution that clearly doesn't value him so highly anymore, but the bitter truth is that the job market is tight and he needs the work. 
Yeah, I signed's petition.  But I don’t think it will do much good.   Because as laughable as Shorter's lifestyle pledge is, it’s even more laughable to think that the school will listen to liberal outsiders who are opposed to it. 

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