Employees at the American Bible Society will be out of a job starting 1 February unless they sign an anti-gay document.
The American Bible Society is a nondenominational organization translating, publishing, and distributing the Bible. It offers a variety of tools for people to engage with and study the religious text.
According to Religion News, the group first introduced this document in December 2017.
They gave their employees 13 months to sign the Affirmation of Biblical Community — if they don’t by the end of this month, they’ll lose their job.
The document requires employees to ‘pursue’ an identity ‘as described in the Bible’.
One of the rules reads: ‘I will seek to refrain from sexual activity outside of the marriage covenant prescribed and exemplified in the Bible: “a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.”‘
Roy Peterson, the society’s president and CEO, defended the new policy.
He said it was introduced ‘because we believe a staff made up of people with a deep and personal connection to the Bible will bring unity and clarity as we continue our third century of ministry’.
People already walking out
So far, a reported 36 people have resigned since the policy was announced.
One of those employees was Jeremy Gimbel. Gimbel is a gay man who worked at the American Bible Society for 10 years prior to this.
‘I feel like the world needs to know what this organization really stands for,’ he told Religion News.
He also wrote a lengthy Medium post about the introduction of the policy and its fallout.
‘I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how it would feel to sit amongst my colleagues, some of whom I’d worked beside for almost 10 years, and be told by the president of American Bible Society that I was no longer welcome there,’ he wrote.
According to historian, John Fea, many Christian organizations have their employees sign such documents.
‘But this is a newsworthy story because the Society, since its founding in 1816, has never had a doctrinal statement for employees,’ he explained.
He further said the society was built on not interpreting the Bible for its community. This affirmation policy, however, is a sign of the society’s move towards evangelicalism starting in the 1990s.
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Author: Anya Crittenton