BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Samford, a private Christian university, is one step closer to approving a new LGBT student group.
The faculty approval of a pro-homosexual student group could have “serious implications … for the relationship” between the university and the Alabama Baptist State Convention, according to a joint statement by the convention’s president and the executive director of its State Board of Missions.
Samford President Andrew Westmoreland told faculty in an April 28 email he hopes the university and state convention leaders “find meaningful ways to affirm beliefs regarding the authority of Scripture held by so many of us, while enabling us to serve in ways that reflect God’s love for all people.”
The full faculty voted April 27 to recommend approval of “Samford Together,” a student organization that “will provide a forum for SU students who want to discuss topics relating to sexual orientation and gender identity” in “an open-minded and accepting environment,” according to the Samford website.
Alabama Baptist State Convention (ABSC) President John Thweatt and Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions executive director Rick Lance said they were “saddened” by the faculty’s vote, “which provides recognition of an agenda that we believe to be contrary to Scripture.”
“In the days to come,” Thweatt and Lance said in an April 27 statement, “Alabama Baptist leaders will be in dialogue with the leadership of Samford as to the serious implications this action has for the relationship between Samford University and the Alabama Baptist State Convention.”
Final approval of the student group must be granted by Samford’s board of trustees, which is scheduled to meet May 9.
According to The Alabama Baptist newsjournal, Westmoreland told the faculty April 27 he “would likely wait until the September meeting of the board for formal consideration of any proposal” in order to “take the time necessary this summer to work especially with our trustees on these questions.”
Samford is affiliated with the ABSC and will receive some $3.6 million in Cooperative Program funds in 2017, according to the state convention budget.
The university’s “Faculty Handbook” states, “Samford University espouses a philosophy of higher education anchored in Christian faith and values … The University supports an active advocacy of Christian belief and practice on the part of its faculty.”
Safe Samford — a separate, unofficial group that promotes “equality” for students who identify as homosexual or transgender — states on its website that students should “look for ‘Safe Zone’ stickers outside the offices of faculty and staff at Samford” and to “feel free to discuss LGBT issues with those persons.”
— by David Roach | BP