Gordon in the News: last updated 07/16/2014

Questions Regarding the Letter to President Obama


A Personal Message from President Michael Lindsay

Dear Gordon Community,

You may be aware that last week I, along with a number of other Christian leaders, signed a letter to President Obama, urging him to include a religious exemption in his forthcoming executive order concerning the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (also known as ENDA). This letter has been cited by media as part of a broader discussion of the advocacy efforts by faith-based organizations around the ENDA, including letters sent by hundreds of other Christian organizations and leaders in recent weeks.

Regrettably, there has been some confusion regarding the intent of the letter and why I agreed to be one of those who signed it. I feel badly that this has resulted in confusion, hurt feelings and disappointment among the Gordon community, which was not what I intended. I write to clarify key points and to reassure anyone who is concerned this action somehow represents a change in what Gordon College stands for.

Signing the letter was in keeping with our decades-old conviction that, as an explicitly Christian institution, Gordon should set the conduct expectations for members of our community. Nothing has changed in our position. The letter asks the president for the same religious exemption that was passed by a U.S. Senate bill (S.815) in 2013 with bipartisan support. Some have misunderstood this message as requesting something new or different. That’s not the case. President Bush signed an executive order in 2002 that offered the same sort of religious exemption that we are requesting of President Obama.

At root, Gordon is, and always has been, an educational institution grounded in our commitment to Christ. We also care deeply about the protection of religious liberty. Our longstanding positions on matters of Christian faith and community standards are conveyed in our statements of faith and of life and conduct. These form the foundation upon which the Gordon community has for many years articulated a common framework for our life together. Building on that shared commitment, Gordon has also been a place where constructive and respectful dialogue takes place. That remains so today.

Be assured that nothing has changed in our position regarding admission or employment. We have never barred categories of individuals from our campus and have no intention to do so now. We have always sought to be a place of grace and truth, and that remains the case. As a Christian college, we are all followers of Christ. As long as a student, a faculty member, or a staff member supports and lives by our community covenant documents, they are welcome to study or work at Gordon.

In general practice, Gordon tries to stay out of politically charged issues, and I sincerely regret that the intent of this letter has been misconstrued, and that Gordon has been put into the spotlight in this way. My sole intention in signing this letter was to affirm the College’s support of the underlying issue of religious liberty, including the right of faith-based institutions to set and adhere to standards which derive from our shared framework of faith, and which we all have chosen to embrace as members of the Gordon community. 

I hope this helps to provide greater understanding of the College’s position and my actions in this matter. I want to thank those who have written to express their love and concern for Gordon and for all that you have done to bless and support the ministry of Gordon College.

Faithfully yours,

D. Michael Lindsay
President and Professor of Sociology