A panel of higher education professionals and journalists discussed the direction of higher education and religious liberties at the Religious Freedom Annual Review at BYU on June 21.
Beck A. Taylor, president of Whitworth University, said he is trying to lead his faith-based institution by upholding Christian values but fears it will lose its accreditation.
Taylor pointed out the case of Trinity Western University’s loss in Canada on June 15. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the university’s effort to open a law school because university standards conflict with LGBT legal rights.
He views his university as a private institution with public benefits because of the federal aid provided for the students.
Taylor said his main concern is the large benefit faith-based institutions have given to higher education through its well-rounded traditional liberal arts education in subjects like English and humanities that many larger public institutions are forgoing.
Taylor was joined by Clark G. Gilbert, president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide and former president of BYU-Idaho. Along with leading the discussion, Gilbert shared his insights on being a president of a higher education institution associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gilbert said as a faith-based institution, individuals need to be more thoughtful and considerate while holding on to the values established by the Church, particularly with issues regarding LGBT students.
“We are compelled to continually examine … our worldviews and assumptions to live our convictions,” Taylor said.
Katie Mangan, a senior writer with The Chronicle of Higher Education, said a religious institution can adhere to their codes of conduct but keep a non-hateful attitude by addressing the issues of bullying and harassment related to LGBT individuals.
“Is this the best of times or the worst of times for religious colleges?” said Scott Jaschik, a founder of Inside Higher Ed.
He said organizations like the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities increasing doubt the sincerity of some evangelical groups on LGBT rights.