Charles Hermes, a PhD student at Florida State University, invited me to post the following letter he has sent to the APA:
I applied to a position at Westmont College that was posted in the American Philosophical Association’s Jobs for Philosophers. When Westmont decided to pursue my application further, they requested that I sign a statement of ‘faith’. Part of their statement of faith includes the clause: “The college will not condone practices that Scripture forbids. Such activities include…homosexual practices.” To avoid offending those Christians who love their neighbors, and who leave the judging for God, I will hereafter refer to statements like these as statements of discrimination instead of statements of faith.
While I am happily married, with no intention of engaging in homosexual practices, I cannot endorse a policy that discriminates against homosexuals. For that reason, I withdrew my application. A version of this prohibition against homosexuality from Westmont College can be found at: http://www.westmont.edu/_faculty_staff/pages/employment/index.html
After withdrawing my application, I began to worry that I have not completely withdrawn my consent of these discriminatory policies. After all, I belong to the American Philosophical Association which advertised for a position that requires signing a statement of discrimination.
While I found Westmont’s restriction deplorable, they were not the only position advertised in the 2006-2007 JFP which required signing a statement of discrimination.
Wheaton College requires its applicants to sign a form with the following statement. “We believe that these Christian standards will show themselves in a distinctly Christian way of life, an approach to living we expect of ourselves and one another. This lifestyle involves practicing those attitudes and actions the Bible portrays as virtuous and avoiding those the Bible portrays as sinful…Scripture condemns the following:…homosexual behavior and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage between a man and woman.” A version of this form can be found at:
Bethel College, also posting in the 2006-2007 JFP, has its applicants sign a statement of discrimination which includes the clause: “The Bible also identifies character qualities and actions that should not be present in the lives of believers. For example, …homosexuality”. A copy of this application can be found at:
While I am not overly proficient in using internet search sites, it took only fifteen minutes to discover Wheaton’s and Bethel’s anti-homosexual policies. Perhaps, someone more proficient could discover other programs we advertise for who practice similar policies.
In the defense of the APA, we do have an anti-discrimination policy that reads:
Further, The American Philosophical Association rejects as unethical all forms of discrimination based on race, color, religion, political convictions, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification or age, whether in graduate admissions, appointments, retention, promotion and tenure, manuscript evaluation, salary determination, or other professional activities in which APA members characteristically participate. At the same time, the APA recognizes the special commitments and roles of institutions with a religious affiliation; it is not inconsistent with the APA's position against discrimination to adopt religious affiliation as a criterion in graduate admissions or employment policies when this is directly related to the school's religious affiliation or purpose, so long as these policies are made known to members of the philosophical community and so long as the criteria for such religious affiliations do not discriminate against persons according to the other attributes listed in this statement. Advertisers in Jobs for Philosophers are expected to comply with this fundamental commitment of the APA, which is not to be taken to preclude explicitly stated affirmative action initiatives. The APA Board of Officers expects that all those who use the APA Placement Service will comply with the letter and spirit of all applicable regulations concerning non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.
As we can see from the examples of Westmont, Wheaton, and Bethel colleges, our expectation that advertisers comply with our fundamental commitments is not well grounded. Hopefully the APA will begin to ensure that advertisers live up to our expectations. If not, I suggest that the internet is a powerful tool. I hope other members of the APA will help in the effort to make the APA’s anti-discrimination policy more than just words.
Should the APA bar these institutions from advertising in JFP? Non-anonymous comments strongly preferred, as always; post only once, comments may take awhile to appear.