Christian college demands staff sign statement opposing gay marriage, faculty threaten to leave

Montreat College, North Carolina has come under fire for a staff document which opposes gay marriage and abortion.Montreat College/ Facebook

Faculty members of a Christian college once attended by Franklin Graham are threatening to resign after they were asked to sign a statement affirming their opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.

Montreat College, a private Christian arts college in North Carolina, is insisting its staff affirm and live according to the school's 'Community Life Covenant', recently added to staff handbooks.

The covenant affirms 'the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman' and the 'worth of every human being from conception to death', according to the Citizen-Times.

Montreat's director of communications, Adam Caress, explained the covenant, which comes out of two years of listening to concerns of students, staff and alumni.

He said in an email: 'The Community Life Covenant is rooted in core biblical values that have been central to Christianity for 2000 years and central to the college throughout its 101-year history.

'The Community Life Covenant does not represent a change in the college's core beliefs, but is rather an affirmation of what the college — and orthodox Christianity in general — has always believed.'

'The college believes that, in order to deliver the kind of Christ-centered education that it promises to students and their parents, college employees must affirm and support the biblical values which are the foundation of that education,' Caress said.

Some staff however, are threatening to leave the institution over the new demands, which they say threaten free thought.

Corrie Greene, an English professor and director of Montreat's writing centre, said she and eight other staff would be leaving in response to the language of the document.

'It says we must affirm and uphold the college's specific spiritual stances in our full 24 hour/seven-day-a-week personal life,' Greene told the Charlotte Observer.

'I can't let somebody else write my personal testimony. In my faith, Christ is constantly showing me something new.'

Matt Langston, a teacher in the music business department, said he couldn't sign the statement, making this his last semester.

'I think at the end of the day I was wondering why it seemed like we were being told that this was supposed to be representative of how beautiful and united our community was, and...I've only seen it have the opposite effect,' he said.

Some students have also protested the language of the document and threatened to leave.

'I do not believe that your statement of faith should be something pre-written,' said Bailey Mathews, a sophomore student who now plans to leave Montreat.

'I believe it should be what you actually believe, and I believe we're going to lose a lot of diversity and a lot of amazing teachers here because of it (the covenant).'

'I was going to stay and I planned on graduating from here, but now, no,' she continued.

In a statement last week, Montreat said only two staff members are planning to resign over the covenant document. It said it had held two open forums in the past six weeks to address the issue.

The statement added: 'We respect students' right to gather and express themselves freely — including protest. Expressions of diverse thoughts and opinions are part of the intellectual inquiry that is central to the college's mission.'

Montreat is the Alma Mater of outspoken evangelist and conservative commentator Franklin Graham. Graham's family is known for its historic support of the institution, in March the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) donated $100,000 to Montreat's scholarship fund. The BGEA have denied any role in the creation of the covenant, but said the new document 'certainly didn't hurt the relationship between the BGEA and the school'.