Samford University, a Baptist-affiliated institution in Birmingham, Ala., had barred two churches that perform same-sex marriages from participating in a university event.
Local church representatives associated with the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church were not allowed to join the university’s Church and Ministry Expo, marking a deviation from other years when representatives of the churches were allowed on the campus.
The group Faculty for Equality Samford denounced the decision, as did some students and alumni. Philip Kemry, the vice president of student affairs, sent a letter to the students to explain the university’s decision which says that the university holds the liability to cooperate with denominations with the same belief system as them.
Washington Examiner reports:
“If Samford doesn’t turn back to the way it was before, this will have signaled a very far right turn à la a Liberty University type of college, which is not what Samford has been for decades,” the group’s founder, Brit Blalock, said, according to Inside Higher Education. “It’s been much more of a middle-of-the-road, very liberal arts college. This would be a vast departure from that.”
Philip Kemry, the university’s vice president of student affairs, defended the school’s actions in a letter to students, saying, “The university has a responsibility to formally partner with ministry organizations that share our beliefs.”
“Samford University is a Christ-centered university welcoming students from many theological and ecclesiastical traditions, including students who profess no faith background,” Kemry wrote. “We endeavor to provide all students with an education that thoughtfully integrates Christian faith and learning. We are welcoming of all denominations and have no policy or plan to restrict any denominations from our campus.”
Kemry noted that the university currently maintains ministry partnerships with numerous denominations, including a Catholic student organization, and Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian churches.
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