Christian university fires dean who defended professor with 'progressive views on sexuality'

Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California.
Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. | Wikimedia Commons/Roman Eugeniusz,_San_Diego,_CA,_USA_-_panoramio_(32).jpg

A Christian university in California has allegedly dismissed the dean of theology for insubordination following his defense of a colleague who voiced support for the LGBT community. The university asserts that the dismissal was not related to LGBT matters.

Mark Maddix, the former dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, and his attorney, Josh Gruenberg, believe he was wrongfully terminated and are considering legal action. 

Maddix was fired from the Church of the Nazarene-affiliated institution with over 3,000 students on March 15 by Provost and Chief Academic Officer Kerry Fulcher.

The Loma LGBTQIA+ Alumni & Allies Coalition claims in a statement the former dean learned that the school did not intend to have adjunct professor and former minister Melissa Tucker return to teach during a meeting between Fulcher and Maddix earlier this year. The group claims the decision was based on Tucker "being a public ally to the LGBTQ+ community."

The school’s covenant, which outlines its Christian beliefs and corporate practices, holds that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, a view consistent with Scripture. 

In response to a Thursday inquiry from The Christian Post, Maddix said he could not provide comment and directed the outlet to his attorney. 

“We believe that the termination was illegal, and we intend to enforce his rights under California law,” Gruenberg told CP in a Thursday interview.

Gruenberg could not disclose further information about the case, noting that nothing has been filed as of Friday.

In a statement shared with The Christian Post, PLNU Communications Director Lora Fleming also declined to share specific details about the case due to the pending threat of litigation. However, the spokeswoman stated that Maddix’s dismissal “was not based on anything related to the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Lauren Cazares, the founder of Loma LGBTQIA+ Alumni & Allies Coalition, claimed in the April 5 statement that Maddix was fired a few weeks after the meeting with Fulcher for “insubordination” and “disclosing information about an employee to other employees.” 

In an email after the meeting, Maddix informed the School of Theology and Christian Ministry faculty that Tucker would not be an adjunct at the school in the future. He told staff what Fulcher had shared during the meeting, writing that Tucker’s public support for LGBT people was the reason for her removal. 

According to Cazares, Tucker didn't go through a formal termination process because the university deemed her contract to be inactive.

Tucker released a statement on her website last Friday, writing that she learned in January 2023 that she would not be able to teach at PLNU anymore due to her “progressive views on human sexuality.”

The former professor acknowledged the section of the school’s covenant that rejects same-sex relationships. She claimed that she abided by the requirements of her contract to “respect and support” the covenant by not sharing her views on homosexuality in class. 

Tucker asserted that she was “blocked” from teaching at the university due to her beliefs, alleging that she had experienced discrimination. 

“If this level of exclusion is going to continue, it is important that anyone involved with the university in any capacity is aware of what has taken place,” she wrote. “I also appeal to those who have the power and capacity within these institutions to work for justice and safety … so that we all can thrive.” 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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