WENHAM — Faculty and students celebrate Gordon College for its intellectual bent, a place where big ideas are bandied about and opposing views welcomed. They describe a place that prides itself on being more diverse and tolerant than many of its peers.
As an evangelical school in the most liberal of states, the college has managed to strike a delicate balance between the secular and religious, and largely avoid such emotionally charged issues as gay rights or abortion.
Until this summer.
Since the college president’s decision to join other religious leaders last month in calling for a religious exemption to federal workplace protections for gay and transgender workers, Gordon has been squarely cast into the culture wars, an unfamiliar scrutiny that has caused widespread unease among students and alumni. Some fear lasting damage to the school’s inclusive image.
“As an institution, Gordon has avoided cultural politics,” said Jonathan Sherwood, a 1987 graduate who recently returned his diploma to the college in protest over the letter, saying the college’s stance was flatly discriminatory. “It’s a faith-based institution, but it hasn’t cornered its students or the community by pushing heavily on these kinds of issues.”
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