Gordon College, located in Wenham, Massachusetts, is a distinctly Christian institution. It aims to be a place where the Christian faith frames all aspects of life for students and faculty. To achieve this mission, Gordon College requires its faculty members to provide students with religious instruction and leadership, including spiritual mentoring.
The First Amendment protects the right of religious universities to decide the faculty they want to hire or promote. That means Christian colleges are free to choose who teaches the faith. But the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is trying to take this freedom away from Gordon College, by forcing the school to make hiring decisions contrary to its religious mission.
This dispute dates back to 2017, when former Gordon College professor Margaret DeWeese-Boyd filed a lawsuit against the college because she was denied a promotion. That denial was because her performance fell short of the college’s expectations for faculty scholarship and institutional service. DeWeese-Boyd also revealed that she no longer agreed with significant religious beliefs in the college’s covenantal documents that she had to affirm for her employment.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court concluded that Gordon College can indeed require DeWeese-Boyd to be a genuine Christian teacher and scholar, yet the court concluded that it was not necessary for her position to perform functions that are sufficiently religious and ruled in her favor. But as U.S. Supreme Court precedent confirms, religious institutions are free to make employment decisions that uphold their ministerial mission without governmental interference. That is why Gordon College has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Massachusetts court’s decision.
Here is how you can pray for Gordon College:
Pray that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the precedent that religious institutions are free to make employment decisions that uphold their ministerial mission.
Pray that religious higher education institutions continue to equip students to influence culture by applying the Christian worldview to every area of their lives.
Pray for the increase of effective discipleship in churches across America.