Utah Mormon University Lets Go of Professor Over Homosexual Marriage Support

By Gudrun Schultz

PROVO, Utah, June 15, 2006 ( – A philosophy professor at Brigham Young University has been told he will not be re-hired, after he openly supported homosexual marriage in an article published by a local newspaper June 4.

“I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral,” adjunct professor Jeffrey Nielsen wrote in the Salt Lake Tribune. “I believe that…legalizing gay marriage reinforces the importance of committed relationships and would strengthen the institution of marriage.”

Brigham Young University receives much of its funding through its affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leaders in the church have been increasingly vocal in opposing homosexual marriage, and have strongly encouraged their members to speak out in favour of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The Mormon Church issued an official statement in 2004 opposing homosexual marriage, saying that marriage should only beÂbetween a man and a woman, and “any other sexual relations, including between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family.”

Daniel Graham, chair of the philosophy department at BYU, sent a letter to Nielsen shortly after the op-ed was published, which read, “Since you have chosen to contradict and oppose the church in an area of great concern to church leaders, and to do so in a public forum, we will not rehire you after the current term is over.”

Spokeswoman for the university Carri Jenkins told Inside Higher Ed the department made the decision because of the opinion piece “and based on the fact that Mr. Nielsen publicly contradicted and opposed an official statement by top church leaders.”

Nielsen, himself a Mormon, criticized the Mormon Church for inconsistency in condemning homosexual marriage while failing to address the church’s history of promoting polygamy.

“As for the statement by church leaders that God has ordained marriage to be a union between a man and a woman, I find it quite troubling. It sidesteps the role of polygamy in past and future church teachings,” Nielsen wrote, adding that he was not endorsing polygamy.

The Mormon Church officially banned polygamy in 1890 and has distanced itself from various Mormon sects that have continued the practice.

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