Baptist university rescinds student’s admission over same-sex relationship

The Bowld Student Commons at Union University, a private academic institution affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention and based in Jackson, Tennessee. Photo taken in March 2020.
The Bowld Student Commons at Union University, a private academic institution affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention and based in Jackson, Tennessee. Photo taken in March 2020. | Kristi McMurry Woody

A Christian university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention has garnered controversy over rescinding a graduate student’s admission because he is in a same-sex relationship.

Alex Duron posted a letter he received from Union University on Facebook last week, noting that his admission to a nursing program was rescinded because he was found in violation of the school’s Community Values Statements for Graduate and Non-Traditional Programs.

Duron denounced the decision of Union as “Bigotry, Prejudice, Heterosexism, Homophobia” and took issue with the fact that the university receives federal funding.

“Union University may not be right for me. I can accept that, but I cannot accept that our government is giving them the money to discriminate against me,” he wrote.

“Friends understand that I am doing fine and I have moved on from this. I have strong support all around me and I know my worth. Continuing to push forward but recognizing that gay discrimination lies all around us.”

Union University explained to The Christian Post that it has “standards of behavior” for students and faculty “that are consistent with biblical teaching and historic, orthodox Christian practice.”

“We love our students and want them to thrive and succeed, and we believe that a standard of conduct that honors God and submits to his authority is an important part of that success,” stated the university.

“All students who apply to Union University sign a statement saying they will comply with the university’s values. Those students who fail to abide by those values — or who show no intention of attempting to do so — are subject to disciplinary measures that can include dismissal from the university.”

In 2015, Union University opted to leave the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities when two other member schools hired staff members who were in same-sex relationships.

"The Union community has certainly benefited from the student programs, professional development, and advocacy offered by the Council [but] our faithfulness to the authority of Scripture takes precedence," stated Union President Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver in 2015.

"The reason we are passionate about this is because what we are talking about is not a secondary or tertiary theological issue — marriage is at the heart of the Gospel. To deny the Bible's concept of marriage is to deny the authority of Scripture."

Union’s decision to rescind Duron’s admission comes as other Christian schools face litigation over their traditional views on LGBT issues while also receiving federal funding.

Last November, a former student named Joanna Maxon sued Fuller Theological Seminary arguing that by expelling her for being in a same-sex marriage, they violated Title IX rules.

“Defendants discriminated against Mrs. Maxon based on her sexual orientation because it expelled Mrs. Maxon for entering into a civil same-sex marriage,” read the suit, a copy of which was emailed to CP last year.

“Defendants also discriminated against Mrs. Maxon based on her sex and sexual orientation by subjecting her to stricter disciplinary action than Fuller would have subjected a male, heterosexual student.”   

Becket, a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases and has successfully argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, has agreed to represent Fuller.

"The claims here are dangerous for faith-based institutions," said Becket attorney Daniel Blomberg in a CBN report.

“If the court was to accept them, then they would be harmful to religious groups of all backgrounds and particularly minority religious groups that have beliefs that the majority and the surrounding communities might find unpopular.”

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