Montreat College Employees Speak Out Against Anti Gay Marriage 'Covenant'

May 11, 2017

Employees of Montreat College are speaking out against a covenant that includes anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion language.  The college is requiring employees to sign it and some have chosen to resign.  Several of them told us why. 

Montreat College’s so-called Community Life Covenant includes a passage called “living the Christian life.”  It requires its employees commit to “uphold the God-given worth of every human being, from conception to death.”  Another passage requires committing to affirming “chastity among the unmarried and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.”  That covenant has led as many as eight employees to resign, according to Corrie Greene, who’s one of them.  She’s an English professor who’s been there as an instructor for three years and also got her undergraduate degree from the college.  Greene describes herself as an Evangelical Christian but says she couldn’t sign her name to something she couldn’t believe in and says the college went too and put its employees on the hook.

“And I can’t be on the hook for an institution.  I’ll be on the hook for Christ, but I won’t be on the hook for an institution.  And I love it there.  I wanted to die at Montreat.”

Greene says she doesn’t think the covenant reflects the values of the school.  She said in her department people are really open-minded. 

“It’s never really been an issue of discussion until it was made an issue of discussion by needing to have this document.”

Matt Langston is also leaving Montreat.  He started a music production program there. 

“I love it.  I really do.”

Which makes the choice to leave the school a difficult one.

“I think for me personally it feels like an overreach on an employer’s part to mandate these kinds of things into peoples’ personal lives.  I think that’s a really slippery slope and kind of a scary thing to be a part of.”

Like Greene, Langston identifies straight and is married.  And also like Greene, he expressed a tolerant view towards same-sex couples. 

“I don’t care how people identify sexually or what their preferences are.  I care about them as people.” 

Langston’s wife is also leaving the school after a dozen years.  She’s a counselor there.  Not everyone who was against the covenant is leaving.  Nathan King is an information technology services librarian and English adjunct.  He called the covenant a form of “legal discrimination.”

“It sickens me a little bit.  My wife identifies as bisexual and she was raised by two loving lesbians who are married.”

The covenant put King in a really tough place.  He signed it, reluctantly.

“We’re just in a situation where I have to have employment.  We have two small boys.  She’s disabled.  And this is the only source of income we have.”

King says the college told employees not to speak to the media.  But he’s doing it despite admitting he  has some fear about losing his job.

“I feel like what I’m doing is the right thing to do in my situation, and if it affects my employment, so be it.”

All three said they recognized the college’s legal right to enforce signing the covenant, but said that doesn’t make it okay.  The college made no one available to BPR for this story, sending instead a written statement.  In an op-ed for Black Mountain News, Montreat’s president said it was the religious institution’s right to ask employees to agree to a set of theological beliefs.  He said the vast majority of faculty and staff have embraced the covenant.  And he said the document was NOT influenced by a recent $100,000 gift from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, of which the outspoken gay marriage foe Franklin Graham is president.   

For Greene and Langston, their last days are here.  When asked what it would be like, Greene summed it up pretty well.

“It’s gonna suck super hard.”

And why?  Because of her students.

“We have a great time and I love them so it’s gonna be pretty difficult.”

Langston has spent the past week or so reflecting on his time at Montreat.

“It’s hard.  It’s hard to do that.  And I think it’s probably gonna hit me at some point.  But I’m trying to just take a little bit at a time and ease my way out so that it doesn’t feel as hurtful.”

Graduation at Montreat College is this Saturday.  

*BONUS* Hear each Montreat employee from this story's full interview below