Fuller Seminary fires senior director over refusal to comply with statement of faith

Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California
Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California | Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary has fired one of its senior directors because she rejected the California-based Evangelical academic institution’s biblical stance on LGBT issues.

Ruth Schmidt, who had been an employee at Fuller since 2020, was dismissed last month because of her refusal to sign Fuller’s statement of faith, according to Religion News Service.

At specific issue was the statement’s stance on sexual ethics, which requires students and faculty to remain abstinent until marriage, with marriage being defined exclusively as a union of one man and one woman.

Schimdt, who considered Fuller to be a welcoming space for disagreement on issues like sexual ethics, had previously signed the statement in 2022, due in part because of the need for financial security at the time.

“After a lot of prayer, God gave me peace that at that moment, it was OK to sign it and not lose housing,” Schimdt told RNS. “However, in that moment, I decided I’m never signing this again.”

“Even though I’m able to navigate this space, I can’t put my signature next to something that will harm the people that I’m called to serve.”

The Christian Post reached out to Fuller Theological Seminary for this story, with a spokesperson explaining that the academic institution “cannot discuss individual employment details.”

“However, we can confirm that adherence to our community standards is a requirement for all members of the Fuller community, including students, faculty, and staff,” stated the spokesperson.

“We live in covenant relationship. Therefore, all who join this community agree to abide by our community standards. All students and employees are informed about our community standards at the onset of their relationship with Fuller and are expected to uphold these standards as part of their commitment to the Fuller community.”

According to Fuller’s official community standards, the university “believes premarital, extramarital, and homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.”

“Consequently, the seminary expects all members of its community — students, faculty, administrators/managers, staff, and trustees — to abstain from what it holds to be unbiblical sexual practices,” the seminary added.

The seminary spokesperson provided CP with a quote from Fuller President David Emmanuel Goatley, who spoke about how the Christian school was “in an intentional season of deliberation and discernment related to issues of human sexuality.”

“Issues related to human sexuality have individual, familial, communal, ecclesial, and institutional consequences. With faculty, students, staff, alumni, and partners throughout the United States and around the world, we have the privilege and responsibility of local, national and global influence and impact,” stated Goatley.

“We can inform and inspire people to engage with civility and hospitality even in areas of disagreement. Reflecting the love of Jesus and respecting the humanity of all people will model a kind of Christian maturity that will enable us to be salt for the earth and light for the world.”

In October 2020, United States District Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled that Fuller could expel students who engage in extramarital activity or have entered a same-sex marriage, and still receive federal funding.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit unanimously affirmed this ruling in a December 2021 decision, concluding that Fuller was protected by the religious exemption found in Title IX civil rights law.

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