Gordon College is at the center of a discrimination lawsuit with a pro-LGBTQ professor who claims the school discriminated against her on account of her views of sexual orientation.
According to a summary available on the Suffolk University Law School website, the professor, Deweese Boyd, is claiming that she was denied a promotion because she voiced pro-LGBTQ views that are contrary to those of the school.
However, the college argues they are a ministerial college and therefore can assert a ministerial defense. They claim that because they are a Christian school, they can require employees to agree to their ideology upon hiring and make that a contingency of the continual employment process.
However, Hillary Schwab, the lawyer representing Boyd, asserted in her statements to the court that the college serves a dual function and therefore must also be held accountable to the education discrimination laws and the employment laws that govern colleges.
“The school [does] not incorporate evangelical teachings; it incorporates an evangelical perspective within the framework of academic freedom,” Schwab asserted, arguing that Boyd’s job as a professor of social work was purely secular and she never led sermons or chapel services and never offered religious teachings.
“The professors at Gordon College are expected to be experts in their field and the field for Professor DeWeese-Boyd was social work. They are not expected to be experts in any sort of religious duties,” she continued.
Eric Baxter of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, who is arguing the case for Gordon College, argues, however, that because she was employed based on her ministerial credentials and also serves as a spiritual guide to the students, that the "religious exemption" (the ability to choose pastors or ministerial staff that align with an organization's religious views) applies in this case and the school should be able to deny her promotion because she doesn't agree with the school's stances on LGBTQ matters.
According to The Christian Post, in his opening remarks, Baxter stated, "The Court need look no further than her own actions. She admits that Gordon expected her to participate actively in the spiritual formation of its students and to help them apply biblical principles to their vocations. When she applied at Gordon, she touted her seminary training and mission work as ‘of particular benefit to students’ and promised to provide a distinctly Christian education."
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John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Daily Fodder, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.