Beliefs Ethics Institutions

Baylor removes ‘homosexual acts’ from misconduct policy

Burleson Quadrangle, the historic heart of Baylor University's campus in Waco, Texas, is named for Rufus C. Burleson, who served twice as president, from 1851-1861 and 1886-1897. Photo courtesy of Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications

Burleson Quadrangle, the historic heart of Baylor University’s campus in Waco, Texas, is named for Rufus C. Burleson, who served twice as president, from 1851-1861 and 1886-1897. Photo courtesy of Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications

Earlier this year, Baylor University made a discreet change to its sexual misconduct policy by removing a line regarding “homosexual acts.”  While some may see this as a small step toward equality at the world’s largest Baptist school, the university has not expressed its approval of gay and lesbian couples.

The school’s 2007 policy said certain actions — including sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts — could prompt disciplinary action.

But on May 15, 2015, the school’s board of regents endorsed a different policy that does not mention homosexuality — or any act of sexual misconduct — explicitly.

In an email to USA TODAY College, university spokeswoman Lori Fogleman says that “an organized effort to review and keep current Baylor’s policies began to ensure that the university has the necessary policies and processes in place to comply with the many legal and ethical mandates to which universities are subject as institutions.”

As of now, the new school policy says: “Baylor will be guided by the biblical understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity. Thus, it is expected that Baylor students, faculty and staff will engage in behaviors consistent with this understanding of human sexuality.”

“These changes were made because we didn’t believe the language reflected Baylor’s caring community,” Fogleman says. “We are pleased with the recent changes to the policy language and that it states more plainly the expectations of the university.”

But the application section of Baylor’s updated policy maintains that their new message “will be interpreted by the University in a manner consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message of 1963,” which states in the “Family” section that marriage is the “uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.”

The new rule was approved before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. Fogleman did not comment on whether or not the school supports same-sex relationships or if “homosexual acts” still fall under the school’s code of misconduct. However, she says that a review of Baylor’s sexual conduct policy had been contemplated over the last couple of years.

This is not the first time that the university’s conservative policies have been tested. In 2013, Baylor’s student senate voted to remove the ban on “homosexual acts” and to replace it with “non-marital consensual deviate sexual intercourse.” Furthermore, the school also reportedly had a 151-year-old ban on dancing until 1996 because it was considered “morally harmful” by some Baptists.

Fogleman told the Waco Tribune that the policy was not amended because of pressure from the student senate. Rather, the change was reportedly “part of a larger effort to review and evaluate all university policies and make amendments as deemed necessary.”

But some gay rights advocates say that the change — although vague — may still mean progress for the religious university.

“They have done a lot of incremental changes, which are all good,” Carmen Saenz, chairwoman of a gay community group in Baylor’s hometown of Waco, told the Texas Tribune. “And I think this is just another step in the right direction.”

(Alexandra Samuels is a University of Texas at Austin student and USA TODAY College breaking news correspondent.)

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17 Comments

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  • Doesn’t sound any different than the original wording. Sex outside of marriage can be cause for discipline.

  • Why are atheists looking for Christians to bash? Atheists are literally soulless zombies just pretending they have a conscience. Oops, of course they’re haters. They have no souls.

  • Atheists bash Christians because Christians refuse to surrender their intelligence as they have done. They are snobs, like moneyed people who loathe the less fortunate as lazy, unmotivated folks; ” If we could only rid the streets of those people, life would be so pretty! “

  • Max,
    ” Why are religious people always looking for ‘sinners’ to punish? ”

    Important question. In this case, it’s a school policy. But why have any policy at all is what I would ask?

    A comment from Baylor University site says, “Baylor is founded on the belief that God’s nature is made known through both revealed and discovered truth.”

    Then why lord it over the students with rules and regulations?

    Take care of those under you…not by constraint or lording it over them…….1Peter 5:3

  • Atheists are literally soulless zombies just pretending they have a conscience. Oops, of course they’re haters. They have no souls.

    Atheists bash Christians because Christians refuse to surrender their intelligence as they have done. They are snobs, like moneyed people who loathe the less fortunate as lazy, unmotivated folks.

    More reviling and slander by Good Christians (TM) pretending to be actually good and Christian.

  • Atheists don’t have to look very far to find Fundamentalist Christians behaving badly. One cannot expect much from more mainstream and progressive sects to call out fundamentalists for their foibles. They are too beholden to the idea of respectful dialogue with fundamentalists. Even though the favor is never, ever, returned.

    Are you upset that someone decided to tell the story? Because you aren’t making any claims that it is somehow false or defamatory.

  • David Frensley,

    “Atheists are literally soulless zombies…”

    Paul Newman was a zombie? Jacques Cousteau was a zombie?
    Oscar Schindler was a zombie?

    Where do religious people get such dumb ideas?
    Oh, right:

    “Zombies walked to raise awareness of Jesus….the Zombie Saints rose up and visited with all the people in town….” – (Matthew 27:52)

    Who can believe this nonsense?

  • Sins definitely ARE very real, since man has been dying ever since Adam and Eve died. We, their kids, have inherited sin and death through their actions (Romans 5:12). Name one person, please, who has not died in the human family, throughout all its generations.

    Otherwise, we would be living in perfection, with no flaws, and eternally, without death. However, THAT will be the final result for man on earth through the ransom sacrifice of God’s perfect son, Jesus, and the millennial rule of God’s heavenly government (Rev. 21:3,4) in the near future.

  • All humans, even animals, are considered souls by God, each with their perspective personality and physical attributes, which make each one quite unique.

  • Fran,

    “Name one person who has not died…”

    What does that have to do with ‘sins’? There is no such thing as a sin if you cannot name one which is real.

  • Max,

    Sin literally means “missing the mark” or falling short of perfection. It is anything not in harmony with God’s personality, standards and ways and will, all of which is holy and perfect.

    It can include wrong conduct, failure to do what should be done, ungodly speech, unclean thoughts, or desires or motives that are selfish. The Bible differentiates between inherited sin and willful sin; and between an act of sin over which a person is repentant, and the practice of sin.

    Ezekiel 18:4,20 say that the soul that is sinning shall die. Some examples are “lofty eyes, a false tongue, hands that are shedding innocent blood, a heart fabricating hurtful schemes, feet that are in a hurry to run to badness, a false witness that launches lies and anyone sending contentions among others” (Prov. 6:16-19). It could also include fornication, adultery, idolatry, stealing, greediness, drunkedness, extortion and injustice. The list is superlatively lengthy.

  • “missing the mark”???

    Fran – we have evolved to something very close to perfection!

    Do you have no appreciation for the incredible legs, eyes, arms and other functions we have evolved over MILLIONS OF YEARS??
    How can you say humanity ‘misses the mark’?
    Who says this?

    We have evolved perfectly as have most other species – to our environment! We have evolved incredible lungs and brains – my goodness!!!!

    Even religious people marvel at the astonishing beauty of our bodies and the amazing streamlined evolution of dolphins and eagles.

    What an astonishing insult religion is to reality!

  • Max,

    In response to your previous response to me about sin, even David acknowledged way back in the day:

    “I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, as my soul is very well aware.” (Psalm 139:14). He could still say this in spite of his imperfections and the sins he committed against Bathsheba and her husband.

    Man is definitely a work of art, and when Jehovah God created Adam and Eve, they were without any flaws. They lost their perfection as well as for the rest of the human family.

    You said we have evolved to something close to perfection. How can that be when all people are facing chaotic conditions, and there are so many who only have wicked intents and actions, such as terrorists and murderers? How are they evolving close to perfection? Also, if that is the case, when and how will man stop getting old and dying, signs that he is perfect?

  • Fran,

    “Chaos!”

    Yes. That is the natural order. It is how (and why) you developed fingers, toes, eyes and all your other body parts. Be glad you are alive considering the millions of years of obstacles which could have prevented your existence on this earth!

    Now….Get over it.

  • Max,
    ” But sins aren’t real. ”

    The word ‘sin’ is a simple and well recognized word that describes something undesirable or bad.

    We could use other words like bad, evil, wicked and so on. We’ve got to have a word to describe such conditions.

    To say that sins are not real is to say that things that are bad, ugly, undesirable, evil and so on don’t exist. That wouldn’t make any sense.

    I prefer to use the word ‘faults’ as often as possible because that takes the religious tone out of things.

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