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InterVarsity Press responds to authors’ protest of controversial gay marriage termination policy

Students pray during an InterVarsity gathering at Roanoke College in Salem, Va.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA (IVCF), an evangelical ministry operating on 667 campuses nationwide, has faced fierce backlash since announcing it would involuntarily terminate any employees who theologically support gay marriage. The most significant outcry has come from a group of more than 50 prominent authors in InterVarsity’s publishing stable who signed a statement lamenting the policy and asking the ministry to revoke it immediately.

In the midst of the growing outcry, InterVarsity leadership has holed up and remained silent. Attempts made by Religion News Service to contact IVCF president Tom Lin and   Greg Jao, director of campus engagement, have been ignored. Other religion journalists who have reported on the matter say IVCF leadership has been unresponsive to their interview requests, too.

But the publisher at InterVarsity Press (IVP), Jeff Crosby, has now cracked the silence. Though he declined to be interviewed at this time, he released a statement to Religion News Service saying that IVP authors will be exempt from the controversial gay marriage termination policy:

I have spoken with many though not all of the authors who have signed the petition you reference which was sent to Tom Lin, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (not IVP), and have explained there and in a letter to our full author pool that IVP authors are not subject to the theological summary of human sexuality. We recognize that we have authors in our trade and academic lines, writing about subjects other than human sexuality, whose views on that topic vary across a spectrum. I have also communicated to those who added their names to that petition that their inclusion would not impact our desire as a publishing house to work with them on future projects. On both counts, I heard gratitude for that clarity and response.

The author exemption may seem puzzling to some of InterVarsity’s supporters and alumni. If a person who affirms same-sex marriage is deemed unfit to work in IVCF’s accounting department, how are they deemed fit to teach theology or ethics through books promoted by the company? How could a person’s stance on this issue prohibit them from leading a Bible study group, but not prohibit them from writing the devotional to be used in the same setting? InterVarsity will allow a person who affirms LGBT relationships to write a book, but prohibits the same person from editing it?

Chris Heuertz, co-founder of the Gravity Center and co-author of the IVP book “Friendship at the Margins,” coordinated the authors’  petition. He says that Crosby’s statement does not change the group’s concern. The memo Crosby mentions was sent out to authors on Friday, days before the protest letter was released.


READ ALSO: “The spiritual abuse in InterVarsity’s treatment of LGBT people”


“We knew that we authors are not held to the same staff policies, and that’s not the point of our letter,” Heuertz says. “The intention of our letter was a request from friends of IVCF expressing our concern for current staff members who will unwillingly be forced to transition from their place in community based on the ‘involuntary termination’ policy.”

The dissenting authors are not alone in their objections. A Change.org petition has been signed by nearly 1,500 IVCF alumni expressing their objections to the policy, and more than 300 current IVCF students have signed a similar statement. The Gay Christian Network issued a statement condemning IVCF’s policy, and more than 70 influential progressive Christian leaders and pastors have signed a protest statement released by The Reformation Project.

The growing list of objectors hold to a range of positions on gender, sexuality, and marriage. But they are united in asking InterVarsity to make space for theological diversity within their ranks. If the ministry can extend this grace to authors, it stands to reason that they could do likewise for accountants, assistants, and executives, too.

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

34 Comments

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  • “And the LGBTQ activists, though constantly crying victim”

    Because its not like Christian organizations are doing things like promoting legalized discrimination against them, demonizing them, attacking their families, their employment, their housing, calling for their imprisonment and/or death. Oh wait they are doing just that.

    And you have the nerve to say gays are “crying victim”. Whatever.

    “ts doctrinal Christian core hollowed out”

    it looks like they have done that all by themselves.

  • “The author exemption may seem puzzling to some of InterVarsity’s supporters and alumni. If a person who affirms same-sex marriage is deemed unfit to work in IVCF’s accounting department, how are they deemed fit to teach theology or ethics through books promoted by the company? How could a person’s stance on this issue prohibit them from leading a Bible study group, but not prohibit them from writing the devotional to be used in the same setting? InterVarsity will allow a person who affirms LGBT relationships to write a book, but prohibits the same person from editing it?”
    Actually what’s puzzling is that anyone would see any logic in religion at all, other than perhaps a way to control the masses.

  • LOL,from a certain put of view this policy is great. It will get the IVFC thrown off many campuses. Or to be forced to accept members who disagree with this policy, including gays, lesbians, trans, gay supremacists, etc etc

  • When you are discriminated against, you are a victim. But you exaggerate. Very few gays see themselves as victims. in regard to discriminatory policies they see themselves as citizens entitled to their rights.

  • You may be right. In fact, you may be REALLY right. Maybe it will a good thing if IVCF is actually forced to choose between the two outcomes you mentioned.

    For too long, we American Christians have had a free ride, we’ve had it TOO easy, and it shows.
    (Thankfully, the Gay Goliath has promised to beat us up until we get our priorities straight.)

    There’s nothing like getting one’s constitutional religious freedoms **repealed**, to help a Christian (or a Church, or a Campus Ministry) to:

    (1) cut out all the compromises,
    (2) cut out all the cuteness and coasting,
    (3) and get their beliefs and fannies squarely back to the Bible where they belong.

  • yes, American Christians have been treated as a kind of state religion, and are crusading to be even more of a privileged state religion. And state religions always become smug or arrogant or oppressive or spiritually lazy.

  • A complaint against ” ‘diversity and sensitivity’ “? I think you need to read more about Jesus.

  • ” InterVarsity will allow a person who affirms LGBT relationships to write a book, but prohibits the same person from editing it?” At least the editor will know what he is talking about….

  • Does anyone else find it odd that “Inter Varsity” has dropped the “Christian” from its name (as well as from its words and deeds)???

  • I think religious supremacists are far worse than “gay supremacists”.

    No one is forced to be gay, The religious sure would like to force others to believe as they would like others to believe, going by all the ‘evidence’ they keep flinging.

  • The “gay supremacists” was a joke. Agree on teh real threat of religious supremacists. In fact I think I will start to use the term “religious supremacists” (in a serious way).

  • I’m still wondering why Campus Crusade For Christ whittled their moniker down to simply “Cru.”

    But it’s not a big deal, as long as Cru (and InterVarsity) sticks with the Bible instead of the PC gang.

  • Yes, an understandable sentiment. So I hereby state the following:

    If I start affirming gay marriage or homosexual behavior, either as an employee of InterVarsity, or even as an author in the InterVarsity Press stable, I humbly and sincerely ask that either or both organizations FIRE ME IMMEDIATELY, unless I repent.

    I also urge such organizations to put a stop on any IVP books of mine (except for free firewood and birdcage liners), until such time as I get back to the Bible and stop messing up. (Also, please hang me out to dry **twice as long**, if I attempt to complain.)

    That’s how I would sincerely want to be treated. Organizations that happily advertise “We Are Evangelicals”, need to just BE evangelical already and live with it. Gently but firmly GET RID of mess. Truth-In-Advertising laws are there for a reason, folks !!

  • You can also use dominionists, religionists, christianistas, religionistas, or combine any of them with a-hole.

  • Wouldn’t sticking to the Bible entail avowing the worth and dignity of all people? Wouldn’t it entail “doing unto others as we would have them do unto us??

  • Christianity has to die. There are no more excuses for indulging in this lunacy. A few meaningless passages in a horribly divisive, error ridden and barbaric “holy” book, and gay people’s lives are made into a miserable hell as a result. Christians have tortured, enslaved and tormented too many innocent people over the centuries, and are responsible for the annihilation and persecution of countless Jews, and it has much to answer for. It has no place in the civilized world and will only twist your mind and demean your morality.
    But I ask each of you, why do you participate in this horror show?

  • Not everything in the Bible contradicts Atheism. The Hebrew version of the book of Esther (accepted by Jews and Protestants) never mentions God and thus was controversial. However, the Greek version, accepted by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, does. However, the Hebrew version is more original. The New
    Testament seems to oppose the Death penalty (turn the other cheek, he who is without sin cast the first stone, judge not, love your enemy etc.) Jewish tradition made it very difficult to impose the death penalty. Jesus did some unnecessary work on the Sabbath. There is also such a thing as “allegory.” Even Paul stated that he himself used allegory in his understanding of Sara and Hagar in Galatians. One problem with arguing against the Bible as you do is that it can make it seem that Fundagelicals are actually “biblical.” I really don’t think that the non progressive Evangelicals are really that Biblical. Atheists are often more “biblical” in their social agenda than are Evangelicals, who vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. There are some good Evangelicals who vote progressive, however.

  • Bigots will be bigots… all they’re doing is helping insure that such religious organizations and the religion to which they subscribe will both become less and less meaningful in the US of A.

    I, for one, thank them.

  • Probably because your anti-Christian sales-pitch is **totally wrong** (and that’s the charitable interpretation.)

  • Of course. But if you’re going to employ those two biblical concepts to evaluate this issue, go ahead and use the REST of the biblical concepts as well.

    For example, “avowing the worth and dignity of all people” derives DIRECTLY from the Genesis statement that all people are created in the image of God.
    “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:26).

    But NOW, right there, you have a situation in which gay marriage is totally and permanently against God’s will and design. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24). No same-sex stuff for anybody, ONLY heterosexual marriage is allowed.

    And now you have Jesus Christ actually QUOTING both verses, showing that marriage, which God designed, is **exclusively** heterosexual. “4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

  • You state, “”That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24). No same-sex stuff for anybody, ONLY heterosexual marriage is allowed.”

    If this Genesis 2:24 means ONLY Heterosexual marriage is allowed, then why would Paul state in Ephesians 5:31-32 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave (προσκολληθησεται, προσκολλαω, proskollao, the Hebrew is dabaq) to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery but I am speaking of into Christ and into the Church?”

    In other words PAUL does NOT say this Genesis 2:24 means ONLY heterosexual marriage, but rather marriage to Christ and to the Church which includes both genders is the meaning of Genesis 2:24 and it actually is far more important than heterosexual marriage.

    Proskollao means to “join one’s self closely to, cleave to, stick to.”

    In the Church, this is something that we can do to both genders as well as to Christ.

    You might have remembered that I mentioned Ruth 1:14 where is states that Ruth “cleaved” or dabaq to Naomi (same exact Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:24). IF it was absolutely forbidden for a person to “cleave or dabaq or προσκολλαω” to someone of the same gender, then would it have been wrong for Ruth to have “cleaved” or “dabaq” to Naomi? Ruth seems to be praised throughout this book for this act of commitment to Naomi.

    Dabaq means to “cling, cleave, keep close.” My Hebrew dictionary actually does say that this word CAN be used in different senses, such as “our belly cleaveth to the earth,” but it actually states that usage of Dabaq in Ruth 1:14 is very similar in usage to Genesis 2:24 where it means “loyalty, affection, etc. with the idea of physical proximity retained.”

    So, I don’t think you really can say that Genesis 2:24 means ONLY heterosexual marriage, since Paul himself did not understand it this way. It also didn’t mean it was evil for someone to “cleave, or cling or keep close” to someone of the same gender, since Ruth “cleaved” to Naomi in Ruth 1:14.

  • There was this shepherd who was hired to take care of a flock. The shepherd noticed that every day a lion would come from the bottom of the hill snatch a lamb and run off. The shepherd being very smart thought I should do something. His thinking led him to realize there was one lion, one shepherd, 1000’s of sheep that looked alike so no one could notice if some were missing. On the other hand if the shepherd goes missing everyone would notice. The shepherd did not know what to do so he looked into his heart. When he looked into his heart he saw that he loved his job. The shepherds job required him to protect the sheep from the lion and in his wisdom and out of his love for the job he devised a plan. When the lion came from down the hill he would run up the hill and put the flock between him and the lion. Then he would throw rocks at the lion and scare the lion away. There was a problem however he only throw a rock about 3/4 the way over the flock and he often hit sheep in the head knocking them out and making them easy prey for the lion. On another hill was a different shepherd. He saw felt and knew many of the same things as the first shepherd but there was one difference. The second shepherd hated dead sheep and lion dung. For this reason the second shepherd would run down the hill through the sheep toward the lion slinging his arm. The lion ran toward the shepherd because he wasn’t afraid of a rock throwing shepherd. Why should he be afraid of a crazy arm slinging shepherd running at him? What could possibly be the difference?
    The lion soon found out. A rock well slung means no lion dung.
    It wasn’t long after this that as the second shepherd sat with his sheep one day a rock landed by his foot.
    I think the second shepherds are the shepherds after Gods own heart.

  • I will answer you with a question…why is Christianity such a threat to you?
    Christians have been tortured, enslaved, and tormented, yet has resulted in more coming to know the creator of the universe. At this time, Jesus is revealing himself to Muslims all over the world. Christianity, which means “Christ-follower ” continues to grow…not die.
    You should learn from an ex-atheist, former legal reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel. Read his story “Case for Christ” or see the movie coming out in May, (I think is the month)

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