Louisiana College President Rick Brewer has notified the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) that the Baptist-affiliated college has withdrawn its membership from the organization.
The issue involves a policy passed by the CCCU board of directors endorsing so-called “Fairness for All” (FFA) legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally-protected classes while also articulating protections for churches and religious organizations.
Brewer, in a letter to CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra, strongly objected to the CCCU board’s action last October.
“Sometimes the answer to such matters is to agree to disagree,” Brewer wrote. “But the import and impact of the ‘Fairness for All’ initiative calls for Louisiana College to respectfully disagree with the CCCU’s stance.”
Describing what had been a “long and beneficial relationship” with CCCU, Brewer ended all ties, saying “by conviction I cannot endorse the ‘Fairness for All’ initiative nor be willfully associated with any entity that does.”
Louisiana College, with 1,250 students, is affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
The CCCU describes itself as “a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world” and states its mission is “to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.”
According to CBN News, Shirley Mullen, vice chair of the CCCU board and president of Houghton College, explained the CCCU position on LGBT protections as one of practicality for Christian higher education.
“[W]e are increasingly persuaded that the most viable political strategy is for comprehensive religious freedom protections to be combined with explicit support for basic human rights for members of the LGBT community,” Mullen wrote in a position paper provided to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which has joined with CCCU in pushing for the controversial legislation.
However, Shapri D. LoMaglio, vice president for government and external relations for the CCCU, compiled an extensive justification for the CCCU position and appeared to suggest balance was the key issue, not necessarily the protection of religious rights.
“Fairness for All could preserve more freedom for more Americans into the future,” LoMaglio wrote in the online CCCU Magazine.
Moreover, she framed her position around what she called a need to “reestablish a positive perception of religious freedom,” which she claimed has been diminished “in large part because of the struggle around LGBT rights.”
“[W]e hope that by not just fighting for ourselves, but by also using our political power and privilege to stand up for the rights of our LGBTQ neighbors, loved ones, brothers, and sisters, we can help reclaim the gospel’s witness, reminding all citizens – including those holding views different from ours – that Christ and the Good News he brought are for everyone,” she summarized on behalf of the CCCU.
But some conservative Christians are calling the CCCU action “a solution looking for a problem.”
Dave Welch, president of the U.S. Pastor Council (USPC), called the FFA legislative initiative by CCCU and NAE “a dangerous situation that is at its core a hostile rejection of God’s created order of male, female, marriage, church, moral law and civil law.”
The USPC grew in national fame in 2015 when it helped lead the repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that would have allowed biological males to violate the privacy of biological females in public bathrooms and showers.
Equating “race, religion and (biological) sex to sexual behavior and mental instability” would open up a legal “Pandora’s Box,” Welch wrote in the Christian Post, and in the end would result in “special rights for a few.”
“Christians who still actually believe and follow the authority of the entire canon of Holy Scripture” would be at risk of “civil and criminal punishment,” Welch said.
On Feb. 1, Greta Hays, CCCU director of communications and public affairs told the Christian Post no member institutions had dropped out of the CCCU because of its stance on “Fairness for All” legislation. However, Brewer shared with the Baptist Message that Louisiana College’s withdrawal notice was sent Jan. 9 and CCCU had responded that it would make the necessary changes to the organization’s various databases that list member schools.
On its website, Louisiana College, in its statement on the “Biblical Design for Human Sexuality” notes, “We believe that all people should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual beliefs,” in its statement on the “Biblical Design for Human Sexuality.”
Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, the college states, “is in the narrative of all scripture – from Genesis to Revelation. Marriage, gender and sexuality are not just appendages tacked onto scripture, but are icons of the gospel and human flourishing (Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4).”
The college also states: “We come alongside those experiencing same sex attractions who choose to honor Christ by not pursuing those attractions, just as we come alongside all individuals who seek to live in purity before the Lord (Col. 3:5; Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9- 10). We believe we are created by God in His image as two distinct sexes: male and female (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 19:4-5). We believe that each person glorifies God and affirms His infinite holiness and wisdom by living in alignment with his or her birth sex. While we acknowledge there may be confusion and brokenness for some individuals in this area, we do not affirm or support transgender identity or expression. Instead, we place our faith and trust in God’s redemptive plan.”
The full text of Louisiana College’s statement follows this story.
Louisiana College is not the first Baptist college to exit the CCCU. Union University did so in 2015 due to “the organization’s failure to respond appropriately to two member institutions that have endorsed same-sex marriage,” according to an August 2015 news release. At issue were Goshen College and Eastern Mennonite University.
Several other Baptist-affiliated colleges are not listed on CCCU’s webpage of member schools, including Shorter University and Truett-McConnell University in Georgia, William Carey University in Mississippi, Wayland University in Texas and Cedarville University in Ohio.
Louisiana College statement on Biblical Design for Human Sexuality:
We believe that all people should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual beliefs. Sexuality is one of the ways by which the marriage covenant between a husband and a wife is sealed and expressed. Marriage is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage in the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race. It is important to note that Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality is in the narrative of all scripture – from Genesis to Revelation. Marriage, gender and sexuality are not just appendages tacked onto scripture, but are icons of the gospel and human flourishing (Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4). Sex misses its purpose when treated as an end in itself or when cheapened by using another person to satisfy pornographic and sinful sexual interests. We view all forms of sexual intimacy that occur outside the covenant of heterosexual marriage, even when consensual, as distortions of the holiness and beauty God intended for it.
Therefore, we support the sanctity of marriage (Ephesians 5, Hebrews 13:4). We define marriage as being a covenant between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:4-5). We believe in honoring the holy sexual union within the context of that covenant (Hebrews 13:4). Believing that God redeems and restores through life in Christ, we walk alongside those that are seeking to overcome sexual sin (Romans 6-8; Galatians 6:2). As followers of Christ, we turn from sexual immorality in its many forms including but not limited to: pornography, pre-marital sexual relations, adultery, and same sex romantic intimacy and/or sexual relations. We come alongside those experiencing same sex attractions who choose to honor Christ by not pursuing those attractions, just as we come alongside all individuals who seek to live in purity before the Lord (Col. 3:5; Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9- 10). We believe we are created by God in His image as two distinct sexes: male and female (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 19:4-5). We believe that each person glorifies God and affirms His infinite holiness and wisdom by living in alignment with his or her birth sex. While we acknowledge there may be confusion and brokenness for some individuals in this area, we do not affirm or support transgender identity or expression. Instead, we place our faith and trust in God’s redemptive plan.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Will Hall is editor of the Baptist Message, baptistmessage.com, news journal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston contributed to this report.)