Monday, April 19, 2021

Seattle Pacific University Board Under Fire

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Back in January adjunct professor Jeaux Rinedahl filed a lawsuit against Seattle Pacific University (SPU) claiming the university had discriminated against him, denying him a full-time professorship because he is gay.

Students on campus, KING 5 TV reported, "rallied on campus in support" of Rinedahl.

This past Friday, the board of SPU announced their decision to uphold their employment policy, affirming their employment policy stating that "marriage and relationships are intended between a man and a woman."

Over this weekend faculty has been meeting to consider a "no-confidence vote" on the SPU board for standing for founding, biblical principles of the university.

An announcement from the facility is expected this morning.

Will the SPU board stand firm in the founding beliefs of the university, or will they cave to those who do not hold those beliefs?

Be informed, not misled.

A brief history of SPU.

The school was founded in 1891 by Free Methodist pioneers. From its humble beginnings on a small piece of donated land in early Seattle, it was the dream and vision of its founder, Nils Peterson, and those who stood beside him to build a great school that "would train missionaries for overseas service"---thus its early name: Seattle Seminary and College. 

Today, the university says, the school "has grown to focusing on equipping 4000 undergraduate students to engage the culture and change the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Nils Peterson and those who gave sweat and treasure likely never dreamed their vision would be challenged by the faculty and students of the institution they birthed for the glory of God.

I have a personal connection to Seattle Pacific University. Many years ago I served as "Special Assistant to the President" of SPU. And one of our daughters graduated from SPU. 

The very identity of SPU is now being challenged.

Adjunct Professor Jeaux Rinedahl says he started to freeze and was sick to his stomach when he was denied a full professorship.

Jeaux Rinedahl filed a lawsuit against SPU last January when he learned he would not be given a full-time instructing job.

Seattle's KING 5 TV says Rinedahl told them: "The whole thing was pulled out from beneath me." As KING 5 explains "Rinedahl, a Christian man who is gay and married to a man, said he loved his job, and when a full-time position in the nursing program opened, he applied right away."

He says it was an answer to his dream.

Rinedahl has filed a lawsuit against SPU in King County Superior Court, claiming discrimination against him based on his sexual orientation.

His lawyer says "there are certain situations where religious institutions can discriminate against gay people, for instance when someone is teaching lessons on religion."

He notes that Rinedahl only taught nursing, therefore giving them a possible opening to win the case.

Rinedahl has told the press that SPU, "after denying him the opportunity to work full-time, repeatedly asked him to continue teaching part-time."

He's asking, "If I'm good enough to teach part-time, why am I not good enough to teach full time?"

That's a good question. Why would part-time be OK and full-time not OK?

Clearly, there is a disconnect between the facility and students and the administration or at least the board of directors of the school.

Students have rallied behind the professor. So have a handful of the facility.

Some students are rallying behind Professor Jeaux Rinedahl.

Leah Duff, who studies music therapy at SPU and identifies as "queer", helped organize the protests.

She says, "It's horrifying, honestly, to hear about it---Like, you would take my money and have me graduate from this school, but wouldn't hire me here as a professor, is that what I'm hearing? It's just disheartening, so a lot of us are very angry, and this is a great way to show it."

Dr. Patrick McDonald, an SPU philosophy professor, told KING 5, "Rinedahl's treatment was outrageous" but that he had come to expect it.

He says, "For a long time, I've been frustrated with that. There's been attempts to change it, and I've been having conversations with many students for many years to change that part of our culture."

Duff says, "God is not homophobic. God loves everyone, loves all, loves me. Loves you. God loves everybody and to see the way SPU is not delivering on that message is extremely disappointing."

Faculty weighing a possible vote of "no confidence" against the Board of Trustees.

This weekend we learned a move to vote a "no confidence" against the SPU Board of Trustees was considered by the facility. 

We will hear more on that today, but this has become a national story after the Board decided last Monday they will retain an employment policy stating that marriage and relationships are "intended between a man and a woman."

One student, Laur Lugos said he and others are going to continue pushing the Board to change their stance on sexuality when it comes to hiring.

He said, "I'm embarrassed to say I go to school here when I hear how the school treats the LGBTQ community."

This is not a few activist students getting the attention of the media.

In January, after the lawsuit became known publicly, a "Letter of Lament" was sent to the Board in February, supporting all LGBTQ staff, with at least 1400 signatures. And that list has grown since then.

Rinedahl has since gotten a job teaching at Tacoma Community College.

He has told the press he appreciates the support from faculty and students and hopes their actions might incite changes in policy.

Rinedahl says, "The decision of a very, very small group of people who ignored the will over everybody around them made a decision that affects so many people, and I think that's very sad."

And he says of the Board at SPU: "They don't have the right to judge me...because my employer has no business in my bedroom."


Clearly, SPU is hanging in the balance. Will it be pushed down the slippery slope of political correctness driven by fear, or will the Board have the courage to continue to stand for the godly principles upon which the school was founded?

What will alum and donors have to say?

I'm asking why SPU allows part-time homosexual professors on their faculty in the first place if they really want to hold to biblical Truth and their founding vision.

It appears that they preferred not to deal with it in the first place---then their denial of the full-time position turned on the light and sparked the reaction.

I have had no personal connection to SPU for a number of years, but one thing is clear; the homosexual activist community is claiming preference, not equality in most aspects of our culture. While claiming the school has no "business in my bedroom," they are also claiming the school has no right to hold very clear biblical values on human sexuality if they do not square with the homosexual's chosen sexual behavior.

The left consistently lifts Scripture out of context, then twists the Truth of the Scripture.

Example: "God is not homophobic. God loves everybody," etc. This is true. God does love everybody, but He cannot look on our sin---and He includes homosexual behavior as "sin."

Because He loves everybody, He invites everybody to accept the sacrifice of His only begotten Son as the payment in full for our sin.

Jesus Christ did not die on a cross to affirm same-sex relations. Nor did He rise from the dead to condone it. His death and resurrection were to be a substitute for us and our sin. It was to pay the price, forgive, deliver and restore us from that sin. Not affirm it.

These are perilous times, and every Christian  individual and institution is being called upon to take a stand for righteousness---"choose you this day, whom you will serve..."

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Courageous. Be Prayerful.