A small Christian college in North Carolina long supported by the family of evangelist Billy Graham is defending a new requirement that faculty and staff sign a pledge saying they are pro-life and for traditional marriage.
The Montreat College statement says that faculty and staff will “uphold the God-given worth of every human being, from conception to death, as unique image-bearers of God” and “affirm chastity among the unmarried and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.”
The statement also addresses aspects of personal character, such as being a person of integrity and avoiding immodesty, and expects signers to regard the Bible as “the infallible Word of God, completely inspired and authoritative, and is to govern Christians in every aspect of life and conduct.”
Located in the town of Montreat near Asheville, the college has only 876 students. It was run for many years by an association affiliated with the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) but became nondenominational more than a decade ago. The school is a member of the conservative Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
Billy Graham and his late wife Ruth were married in the college’s chapel, which now bears their name, according to the Charlotte Observer. Ruth Graham and grandson Will Graham served on the board of trustees. Franklin Graham, Will’s father and a well-known evangelist today, graduated from there. Over the years, the family has contributed financially to the school. Billy Graham still lives in Montreat.
In April, the Observer interviewed critics of the new policy, including Corrie Greene, 44, who teaches English at the college and directs the writing center. She said she and eight other faculty members are leaving because of it.
“It says we must affirm and uphold the college’s specific spiritual stances in our full 24 hour/seven-day-a-week personal life,” said Greene, who calls herself an evangelical Christian. “I can’t let somebody else write my personal testimony. In my faith, Christ is constantly showing me something new.”
Nate King, an English teacher and information technology services librarian, said he signed the policy so that he could keep his job. King, who is Episcopalian and a married father of two young sons, said his wife was raised by two lesbians, who are married.
“It hurt my wife in a lot of ways,” said King, 33. “And I think it sort of made me not want to bring my boys to the campus anymore.”
But many other faculty members support the policy, saying it’s consistent with what the school has long believed and taught.
“The document didn’t seem unusual to me,” Kevin Auman, chairman of the music department and a professor of music business, told the Observer. Auman, 50, is an elder at a church affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which does not marry same-sex couples.
Paul Maurer, president of Montreat College, said in a guest commentary last month for Black Mountain News that only one full-time faculty member and two adjuncts have cited the new policy in their decisions to leave the school.
Maurer said that a recent large gift from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association did not influence the new policy, though the school’s close relationship with the family is “something we continue to cherish.”
Montreat welcomes students from diverse backgrounds and is committed to challenging them intellectually, Maurer said.
“We also believe it is essential that, in order to deliver the kind of biblically based, Christ-centered education that we promise to our students and their parents, college faculty and employees affirm and support the biblical values that are the foundation of that education,” Maurer wrote.