BYU declines to renew several faculty contracts

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

Two online faculty members at Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU-I) told the media that their contracts were not renewed, which was puzzling because they had received positive endorsements from their local lay clergy. BYU-I, located in the eastern Idaho town of Rexburg, is managed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Inside Higher Ed reported that both professors claimed that their contracts were not renewed because they questioned the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ stance on homosexuality. But the church is well-known for its advocacy for traditional, heterosexual relationships and enshrining religious liberty when it comes to laws on marriage. It is not clear how many faculty members did not have their contract renewed.

Ben Buswell, who taught business courses, and Lindsay Larson Call, who taught family students, were the two faculty members whose contracts were not renewed. Call said that she received a phone call from a BYU-I employee informing her of the decision, which Buswell also received separately. Buswell’s wife also teaches online at BYU-I and voluntary stopped teaching after the nonrenewal issue.

Both allege that their honest doctrinal questions may have led to their non-renewal status. Buswell allegedly questioned some church doctrine, while Call expressed concerns about a video theorizing about same-sex attraction and how the video did not align with the church’s public statements.

Call was informed that she could apply for reinstatement, but declined the offer.

BYU-I did not respond to media inquiries about not renewing contracts of faculty, and the BYU-Provo campus did likewise.

Apparently, a similar incident happened last year, when an adjunct writing professor’s contract at BYU’s Utah campus was not renewed due to wearing a rainbow pin to class or mentioning she has two brothers who are gay. At the time, BYU said that nonrenewal of contracts occur “for many reasons.”

The university cracked down on internal dissent from church doctrine in the past year, with reports that the university requires all employees who are church members to have an active recommendation from local lay clergy to confirm their adherence to church doctrine.