National | religion

Issue: "Gay marriage backlash," Dec. 6, 2003

Price was right

Janice Price won her point in court-and an award of $10,401 in damages. The amount is what she would have earned as a part-time instructor for one year at DePauw University, a United MethodistÐrelated school in Greencastle, Ind.

The school suspended her in 2001 after a student complained she made copies of the supposedly anti-homosexual Teachers in Focus, a magazine published by James Dobson's Focus on the Family ministry, available in the classroom.

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DePauw administrators insisted they axed her position because of declining student enrollment. But a six-member jury ruled that the school did not properly follow its faculty handbook in suspending her. DePauw officials argued that since Miss Price also was an administrator in the education department (a post she retains), faculty rules didn't apply. They said it really is a contract dispute, and they will appeal.

A judge last spring dismissed an earlier Price lawsuit in which she accused DePauw of violating her academic and religious-speech freedoms. The judge threw out the case, saying the state and federal constitutions offer her no shelter because DePauw is a private school not supported by tax money. c

Gotta cut footloose?

Hundreds of students at Wheaton College (Ill.) gathered in the gym on Nov. 14 for the first pop social dance in the evangelical school's 143-year history. Administrators and faculty chaperones were on hand to make sure things remained "wholesome" and didn't become too intimate or out of control, but it appeared their services weren't needed. The event was closed to reporters and cameras.

Dancing had been banned for decades at Wheaton, but times change. A long-time flagship school for evangelicals, Wheaton in the 1960s lifted a rule forbidding students from going to movies. In the 1990s, students and faculty were allowed to dance with spouses or relatives at family events like weddings. The school lifted the general ban on dancing last spring, and campus leaders have been busy ever since trying to reassure skeptical alumni, parents, and the church community that the action hadn't compromised the school's strict moral standards.

The new rules permit students to dance on or off campus but instructs them to avoid behavior that may be "immodest, sinfully erotic, or harmfully violent."

"We want to make students learn how to think critically, be discerning, and learn how to make wise choices," administrator Sam Shellhamer told reporters. Wheaton also recently eased its ban on alcohol and smoking for faculty and staff; either can now be done off campus, as long as it's not in front of undergraduates. c

Just a week before the Massachusetts high court legalized gay marriage, America's Catholic bishops urged states to withhold recognition for same-sex marriage. Meeting in Washington, D.C., they voted 234 to 3, with three abstentions, to adopt a statement warning that authorizing same-sex marriage "would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral."

Unlike in ousted chief justice Roy Moore's Alabama, the granite Ten Commandments monument in Texas is staying in place. A federal appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling that left the 6-foot-high monument standing just north of the capitol in Austin, where it has displayed its message for 42 years.

After maintaining friendly relations with the Episcopal Church for nearly 200 years, the huge Russian Orthodox Church suspended the ties over the consecration of an openly gay Episcopal bishop and recognition of same-sex unions. The ROC said homosexual contact is a sin, and it "cannot condone the perversion of human nature." The ROC also said it hopes to keep in touch with American Episcopalians who "clearly pronounce their adherence to the moral teachings" of the Bible.

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman


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