CCCU Letter to Inside Higher Ed Objecting to the Use of “Homophobic” to Describe SPU’s Conduct Policy
On August 4, 2022, the Chief Communications Officer for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, Amanda Staggenborg, published a letter to the editors of Inside Higher Ed, objecting to the characterization of SPU’s policies as “homophobic” in Josh Moody’s article “Seattle Pacific Sues Washington AG” (8/1/2022).
Seattle Pacific University Complaint Against Attorney General of Washington (SPU vs. Ferguson)
On July 27, 2022, SPU filed a complaint against the the Attorney General of Washington, arguing that the AG was targeting SPU for its religious beliefs and that its “probe inquires into confidential religious matters” that are “beyond the scope of authority granted under state law and the federal constitution” (par. 9). It also argues that “if the University changed its employment policies to permit employment of Christians in same-sex marriages, the University would be automatically disaffiliated from the Free Methodist Church” (par. 34). The complaint asserts that some in the community “believe the University should permit covenanted same-sex marriages,” that such “discussions have and will continue within the Church and at the University,” and that “the University seeks the freedom to hold theological discussions and make determinations of faith, doctrine, and policy without government interference” (par. 35).
Attorney General of Washington Request for Information from SPU
On June 8, 2022, the Attorney General of Washington State asked SPU for information regarding their hiring practices. The Office of the AG later asserted on July 29, 2022, that “numerous Seattle Pacific University students, faculty, and others reached out to my office to file complaints or otherwise express deep concern that the University administration’s policies illegally violate Washingtonians’ civil rights.”
Hunter vs. the Department of Education
In March 2021, a former student of SPU joined a class action suit against the Department of Education brought by students of Christian colleges. The suit argues that because the colleges receive federal funding, the religious exemption allowing them to have discriminatory LGBTQ policies is unconstitutional.
Rinedahl vs. SPU
On January 11, 2021, an SPU adjunct sues SPU, alleging SPU declined to consider him for a tenure-track position because he was in a same-sex marriage.
Dean of Student Life Memo Re: Homosexuality & Community at SPU, 2001
On June 6, 2001, the Associate Provost and Dean of Student Life sent a memo to the President’s Cabinet outlining several concerns regarding how the campus was handling LGBTQ issues in regard to students, staff and faculty. Stressing concern for students’ educational development, the memo argues that SPU was not “dealing with [the topic of homosexuality] in a meaningful and grace-filled way,” noting that “official [conduct] expectations materials” were obscure and conflicting, and “there is no public information about [the Statement on Human Sexuality’s] availability.” The memo also warns that “we cannot expect that a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ approach will continue to help us avoid challenges on our stances regarding this issue.” Subsequent to this memo, SPU counsel met with President Eaton, the Dean, and a few other people; the decision at that time was “to leave the issue alone without any further clarification.”
Controversy Over Human Sexuality Class, 1991
On October 23, 1991, SPU’s student newspaper, The Falcon, published a story detailing the controversy surrounding a textbook used in a long-standing SPU health sciences class in human sexuality.