InterVarsity denies charge that staff will be fired over beliefs on gay marriage
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA denied a previous report that it would terminate employees who were supportive of gay marriage.
Last Thursday, Time reported that InterVarsity, a ministry that employed 1,300 people on college campuses across the U.S., has told its staff members that they would be fired if they supported gay marriage or disagreed with the organization's stance on sexuality.
Intervarsity issued a statement on Friday, saying that the story was false. In an interview with CBN News, Greg Jao, InterVarsity vice president and director of campus engagement, said the ministry was asking its employees to voluntarily disclose if they disagreed with the organization regarding human sexuality.
In a letter sent out to its staff last July, the ministry encouraged its employees to disclose their disagreement with the organization by Nov. 11.
It stated, "Staff are people of integrity. If they disagree, we trust that they will alert their supervisors and conclude their work in ways which reflect their love for students, faculty, the mission and their colleagues who remain."
Jao explained that the ministry has held the same position throughout its 75-year history. He expected some universities to have an issue with the ministry's reiteration of its beliefs.
The controversy prompted several members of the Christian community to react on social media.
"LGBT students will be the ones who pay the price for InterVarsity's decision. Let's help them find places to belong," tweeted Julie Rodgers an advocate for sexual minorities and former staff at Wheaton College.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, came out in defense of InterVarsity.
"They're not adopting a new policy," Moore said in a Facebook video. "What they're doing is clarifying something that didn't need to be clarified before," he added.
According to Christianity Today, the Intervarsity staff participated in a program that included group Bible studies, listening to interviews with LGBT leaders, reading position papers and hearing from theologians. The organization aimed to establish its theological positions and create a more effective way to minister to LGBT students.
"We should be clear about what we do and don't believe," said Jao. "Not because we want to push people out, but because we want to be clear what we're inviting people into," he continued.