State probes evangelical university for refusing to hire gay faculty, staff

A student at Seattle Pacific University protests an employment policy that bans faculty and staff from engaging in "same-sex activity" (Video screenshot)

A student at Seattle Pacific University protests an employment policy that bans faculty and staff from engaging in “same-sex activity” (Video screenshot)

Over the past half-century, evangelical universities typically have experienced an ideological divide between their generally more conservative boards of trustees and their largely progressive faculty, staff and student body.

That split is evident at Seattle Pacific University, where faculty, staff and students have filed complaints with the Washington state attorney general because the institution forbids hiring people who don’t adhere to its biblically based stance that sexual activity is sacred and should take place only with a marriage between a man and a woman.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Friday that after “numerous” students, faculty and others filed complaints, he launched a civil rights investigation into the university for refusing to hire “LGBTQ+” faculty and staff.

In May, after the board voted to uphold policies that bar employees from engaging in “same-sex sexual activity,” students and staff staged a sit-in in front of the office of interim president Pete Menjares for about one week. The students called for the removal of the board of trustees.

The university, in an effort to block Ferguson’s investigation, has filed a federal lawsuit.

See a KCPQ-TV report on the May protest: