Eastern Mennonite University President Loren Swartzendruber has agreed to speak at a forum Tuesday to those concerned about the firing of two homosexual faculty members before his term and the resignation of another who objected to the act. He stated that the university fired the individuals due to homosexual behavior and not sexual orientation.
Kathleen Temple, former Bible and religion instructor at EMU in Harrisonburg, Va., recently resigned because she disagreed with the university’s decision to fire the homosexual faculty, taking it as harassment.
Swartzendruber confirmed that the university’s recent decision to not rehire a faculty member identified as homosexual after his contract expired was also not based on reasons unrelated to the man’s sexual orientation that were attentively considered by the university.
"Some would say that the very act of dismissal is somehow violent, unkind, uncaring and unjust," Swartzendruber said. "We are very careful in the process. We agonize. We spend a lot of hours in due process. We are not capricious in these decisions."
The students and faculty at Eastern Mennonite University pledge to a “community lifestyle commitment” which ensures the predominant 1,400 Mennonite students at the Christian private school can be in a learning atmosphere free of sexual relationships outside of marriage, abusive or demeaning language, and alcohol and tobacco.
Regarding the institution of marriage, EMU bases its teachings of that of the Mennonite Church that marriage is between a man and a woman, according to Swartzendruber.
Also, in accordance with the church’s and university’s teachings, he is calling for those attending the forum to have respect and consideration in spite of opposing views.
"We will not tolerate bigotry, poor language, inappropriate comments about persons of any sexual orientation," said Swartzendruber.