Belmont University Pretends to Be More Inclusive January 30, 2011

Belmont University Pretends to Be More Inclusive

Belmont University’s women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe was fired from her job a couple months ago after she told her team she was expecting a child with her same-sex partner. It’s the sort of anti-gay bigotry we’ve all come to expect from the Christian world.

But the backlash against school officials has been overwhelming.

Earlier this week, the school announced they would be adding sexual orientation into their non-discrimination policy:

A new clause has been added to the anti-discrimination policy which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The change came after more than a month conducting focus groups and interviews on the topic of sexual orientation.

Sounds all well and good, but how will this be put into practice?

I’m not very optimistic:

While the wording in Belmont’s mission statement has changed, [University President] Dr. [Bob] Fisher wasn’t able to explain whether or not University policy will be affected.

Reporter Amanda Hara said, “You’re saying that you want to be tolerant of people with different sexual orientations but yet you won’t tell us if people are allowed to be openly gay and work here?”

“I’m not responding you can go ahead and ask that about three different times and the same answer every time,” President Fisher responded.

“I’m just giving you an opportunity to be transparent,” Amanda Hara replied.

President Fisher went on to say “Well thank you very much.”

What good is a “non-discrimination policy” if the university president can’t even say whether GLBT people can get a job there?

On the bright side, the Tennessee Baptist Convention is pissed off about the apparent lip-service:

“For decades Tennessee Baptists poured themselves into making Belmont what it is,” Randy Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press. “We did sever ties in 2007, but many of us never dreamed that the school would walk away so rapidly from their Christian heritage and roots. My heart is broken for all of the Tennessee Baptists that have loved and invested themselves in Belmont over the years. Many of our strongest leaders today are Belmont graduates, and the sentiment that I am hearing from them is one of outrage.”

Ah, yes, those honorable Christian roots that make you want to fire someone who’s in love with another person.

I won’t be convinced a change has been made until an openly gay person is hired by the school. I doubt Dr. Fisher has the courage to make that happen.

(Thanks to Jon-Michael for the link)

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  • Jeff

    What else would one expect? As Tom Skerrit’s character said in A River Runs Through It, “Methodists are Baptists who can read.”

  • Tom

    A disturbing pattern I’ve noticed: whenever any person or organisation gets called on firing someone unjustly, and they subsequently change the official policy to forbid it (notice also that though they may change the policy they will never, ever concede the direct implication that they shouldn’t have done what they did that made the new rule necessary!), they never rehire the original person, neither have I ever heard of anyone subsequently rescinding such a termination in favour of something that wouldn’t make applying for a new job much more difficult. So, they go through the motions of changing the rules to placate their critics, but the original victim remains just as screwed-over as they were before. Sure these people respond to social outrage, but they do it with all the petulance and bad grace they can muster, and never actually concede anything – just look at that president’s stonewalling.

    This is the behaviour of the bullying child – the best you’ll ever get is a resentful, sullen agreement, and only after it becomes clear that authority will utterly crush them if they don’t, to stop torturing a given victim, all the while acting as if, and sometimes even openly insisting, that they never actually did so; the victim will get no compensation of any sort, and the bully, far from showing contrition, will instead resent the victim ever after for fighting back and daring to win. And then start all over again on a new victim who looks less likely to squeal.

    That they spent over a month of consultation trying to decide if they should continue to be bigots or not says it all. Just try to think of any plausible scenario where decent, reasonable people would need to do that. I’d wager this was less to do with figuring out what the moral course of action should be, and far more to do with carefully gauging just how strong internal and external opposition was, and whether they could simply get away with continuing to ignore it.

  • lurker111

    Off-topic issue, as this site doesn’t have a general comment topic:

    ZoneAlarm is now listing
    as an attack site.

    Does anyone know what’s going on?


  • Cheryl

    Wish I could give back my degree from Belmont as I’m really ashamed to be associated with it now. But going there took the stick out of my butt. My best friend was gay. Another friend was the class president and he had regular pot parties. I spent all my time outside of classes and studying working with the theater and music departments (neither of which were in my major) hanging out with the truly talented and geeky. Arranged all my classes to avoid going to chapel twice a week and partied my way through required Buybull classes given by an agnostic. All of that and more is why I am atheist.

  • Well, did you honestly expect any differently?

    It’s become more than obvious in the last few years that Christianity = Hatred. Expecting it to be any different is just silly.

  • Nakor

    A million times what Tom said. They do just enough to get past the bad PR and lawsuits and then it’s right back to square one.

    I wish there were a more effective method of dealing with them, but frankly, you can’t easily change who people are. Bigots will be bigots I suppose, and the best we can do is utilize the legal system to minimize the damage they can do.

  • Cthuhlu

    Oh, you have got to feel for those baptists. They have to face the fact that you can’t discriminate even if you really want to. I guess they truly are the victims here and not the women who got fired for just having a kid with her partner. Maybe we can all send them pies to make them feel better

  • JD

    If it is a non-cave cave, then why bother? It doesn’t solve problems and nobody is happy. Why even have a press conference when they aren’t willing to answer a very simple question?

  • Sorry to be so thick here but are you saying that employment law doesn’t already protect people on the grounds of sexuality? Presumably race and gender equal rights are part of employment law. If this isn’t already protected then surely it is time that it is?

  • Steve

    America’s heavy federalism mucks things up. Some states have protections, some don’t. Sometimes individual cities offer protections. It’s all giant patch work of individual laws.

    The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) is supposed to handle this federally, from the top down, but that’s going nowhere. And there was controversy over transgender inclusion:

    Has a graphic showing state laws

  • Kamaka

    True xtian love!! From the Baptist Press link…

    with Belmont trustee chairman Marty Dickens saying “we do adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don’t want to make apologies for that.”

    We are a Christian community that is welcoming, loving and inclusive of everyone

    Oh really?

    the Tennessee Baptist executive, said the school logically cannot claim to be biblically grounded while affirming unbiblical values.

    “If you hold to a high Christian moral standard, and yet you embrace a lifestyle that the Scripture condemns, there is a conflict

    “The truth about the love of God is paramount in Scripture. Dr. Fisher spoke of holding to a high standard of Christian morals. The biblical high standard is one man, one woman marriage. Anything less than that is a drastic lowering of the standard that is biblical and Christian.”

    The real truth about the “love of god”?

    the Scripture condemns

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