BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY (BYU) JEFFREY NIELSEN
BYU professor let go for gay marriage stance
PROVO, Utah -- Brigham Young University has decided not to rehire a part-time instructor because he publicly opposed the Mormon church's stand against marriage for same-sex couples.
Jeffrey Nielsen, a philosophy instructor at the church-owned university, said in an op-ed piece for the June 4 edition of The Salt Lake Tribune, "I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral."
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have spent millions of dollars campaigning against gay marriage and on May 28 called on members to support a constitutional amendment banning it.
Nielsen, a Mormon, said he learned of the school's decision regarding his employment in a June 8 letter from Daniel Graham, chairman of the Department of Philosophy.
"Since you have chosen to contradict and oppose the church in an area of great concern to church leaders, and to do so in a public forum, we will not rehire you after the current term is over," the letter said.
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins confirmed that Graham decided not to rehire Nielsen because of the op-ed piece.
Nielsen said he is sticking by his views - and his religion.
"I have no desire to be anything but a member of the church," he said Tuesday.
Utah Mormon University Lets Go of Professor Over Homosexual Marriage Support
By Gudrun Schultz
PROVO, Utah, June 15, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A philosophy professor at Brigham Young University has been told he will not be re-hired, after he openly supported homosexual marriage in an article published by a local newspaper June 4.
“I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral,” adjunct professor Jeffrey Nielsen wrote in the Salt Lake Tribune. “I believe that…legalizing gay marriage reinforces the importance of committed relationships and would strengthen the institution of marriage.”
Brigham Young University receives much of its funding through its affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leaders in the church have been increasingly vocal in opposing homosexual marriage, and have strongly encouraged their members to speak out in favour of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
The Mormon Church issued an official statement in 2004 opposing homosexual marriage, saying that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and “any other sexual relations, including between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family.”
Daniel Graham, chair of the philosophy department at BYU, sent a letter to Nielsen shortly after the op-ed was published, which read, “Since you have chosen to contradict and oppose the church in an area of great concern to church leaders, and to do so in a public forum, we will not rehire you after the current term is over.”
Spokeswoman for the university Carri Jenkins told Inside Higher Ed the department made the decision because of the opinion piece “and based on the fact that Mr. Nielsen publicly contradicted and opposed an official statement by top church leaders.”
Nielsen, himself a Mormon, criticized the Mormon Church for inconsistency in condemning homosexual marriage while failing to address the church’s history of promoting polygamy.
“As for the statement by church leaders that God has ordained marriage to be a union between a man and a woman, I find it quite troubling. It sidesteps the role of polygamy in past and future church teachings,” Nielsen wrote, adding that he was not endorsing polygamy.
The Mormon Church officially banned polygamy in 1890 and has distanced itself from various Mormon sects that have continued the practice.
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