A Christian university has turned down $3 million in funding from a religious group which came on condition of shutting down an LGBT students group.
Samford University, which was founded by Alabama Baptists, rejected the hefty annual donation from the Alabama Baptist State Convention.
The university has seemingly chosen to support Samford Together, a group in which students can discuss topics relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, over the Christian group.
The Alabama Baptists had threatened to withdraw its contribution if when considering Samford Together, the university’s authorities “decide not to deny permanent recognition and revoke its provisional status”.
Instead of waiting to see if this threat would be fulfilled, Samford has preemptively rejected the donation.
Samford’s president, Andrew Westmoreland, said in a statement announcing the decision that all students must be respected.
“Our actions at Samford, irrespective of financial considerations, must demonstrate fidelity to God’s truth, abiding compassion and respect for all people, and solidarity with the timeless ideals of a strong university.”
After the university gave provisional status to Stamford Together in April, the Baptist group’s representatives John Thweatt and Rick Lance expressed their anti-LGBT views.
“We are saddened by this decision, which provides recognition for an agenda that we believe to be contrary to Scripture,” they said, according to news site Inside Higher Ed.
“We strongly believe that the Old Testament and New Testament each speak unequivocally against homosexuality.
“When addressing same-gender sexual relationships, the Bible without exception never affirms such behavior as an approved lifestyle.”
After the university’s refusal, Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride – a national LGBT group for students, said Westmoreland’s move to “stand up” to the Baptist group was brave.
“The decision shows a great deal of courage to tell the [convention]: ‘Well, take your money, we’re going to do what we need to do on our campus’,” he said.
“If Samford wants to be seen as inclusive, safe and accepting, then they should allow this group to exist.
“Are they the worst of the worst? Well, it sounds like the president is willing to stand up and say, ‘You know what, we’re not going to take the money.'”
The university’s annual budget is around $166 million.
Earlier this year, Alabama passed a law permitting anti-LGBT discrimination in adoption cases.