BYU-Idaho adjunct professor claims she was fired after LGBT Pride post on Facebook
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SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — She is a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints with the needed ecclesiastical endorsement to hold a current temple recommend — her faith’s standard of being a believer in good standing.
Now she has taught her final class at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, after she declined to retract a Facebook statement (which can be read in its entirety at the bottom of this story) supporting the LGBT community. She was told by the school to retract her statement and when she refused, she lost her job, she says.
Ruthie Robertson, an adjunct professor of political science — one of the school’s youngest — taught that final class last week. She told 2News she was allowed to finish out her summer course, but her contracted classes for fall and winter semesters have been cancelled.
She made the now-viral Facebook post on June 5. She said within hours she was reported to BYU-Idaho administration and was called in to discuss the post. She called the post “private” and said she did not think it would hurt her career.
“I’m currently a member of the LDS Church. This organization has openly and forcefully opposed same-sex relationships and legalized same-sex marriage,” she said in the post’s opening.
She wrote about the LDS church fighting for California’s Proposition 8, an amendment to the state’s constitution fighting to stop same-sex marriage in the state and allowing religious universities, doctors and adoption agencies to deny services to same-sex couples.
Robertson, a member of the LDS church, said she has many gay friends and wrote the post to let them know she supported and loved them. She said she could not remove or rescind the post.
“I could not take it back,” she said.
Robertson said she felt secure in making her post on Facebook because it is private; no students followed her online, and her beliefs have never been taught in a classroom.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the church’s highest offices, told KUTV in 2015 that Mormons would not have their membership endangered by posting support of same-sex marriage on social media.
“There hasn’t been any litmus test or standard imposed that you couldn’t support that if you want to support it, if that’s your belief and you think it’s right,” Christofferson said after a Jan. 27 news conference, reported by KUTV media partner The Salt Lake Tribune.
Christofferson was not asked and did not address what was appropriate for church employees.
Robertson believes a former roommate who’d called her out for previous posts on feminism was likely the one who brought the LGBT post to BYU-Idaho’s attention.
“This is my official announcement and declaration that I believe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both natural and neither is sinful. I will never support the phrase ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ because that ‘sin’ is part of who that person is,” she wrote.
The June 5 Facebook post delves into LDS church’s 2015 stance stating that children of gay couples could not be baptized until the age of 18. Robertson takes issue with this new guideline, calling it “anti-family”:
“Most Christian faiths label homosexuality as a sin based on archaic writings A few hateful verses in the Old Testament have led to hundreds of years of prejudice, hatred, violence and pain. If we’re going to follow the Old Testament, and use it to justify a hateful stance, there are several other things we need to start condemning and punishing.”
Robertson wrote in her post that such archaic teachings should be left in the past like others that include wearing clothing made of more than one fiber. Those Biblical laws that now seem outdated in her mind include keeping menstruating women at home because they are unclean.
Robertson ended her LGBT Pride month post by saying “I will always and forever stand up for the equality of the LGBT community. Sexuality and gender are not binary, they are on a spectrum and that’s how we were made. Stand up for humanity, love people because of who they are … not despite who they are.”
She said she was never promised that she could keep her job if she retracted her post but says it was implied. She made an immediate attempt by writing the following:
Robertson wants to make it clear she is still a member of the LDS church and has no plans of leaving. She has since accepted friend requests from students on her Facebook page who have reached out in support of her, but did not accept such requests until she was fired.
BYU-Idaho sent the following statement:
While the University would not discuss the situation, there is evidence that Robertson was indeed contracted to teach into next year. As of Monday, BYU-Idaho still had Robertson slated in the online catalog of classes teaching POLSC170 International politics through 2018.
Robertson is a former student of BYU-Idaho and does not yet know where she will go next to teach.
At the moment she works as a bartender at a lounge in Rigby. She said it’s a temporary job that does not conflict with her religion, despite the church’s prohibition of alcohol.
Robertson said she was born and raised in Virginia as a member of the LDS church – officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her mother was a convert.
She said she was home schooled until high school, and received her undergraduate degree from BYU-Idaho. She said it was during her time as a student there she started to realize she was “quite liberal.” While attending BYU, Robertson said she was a teaching aid for two years and started teaching POLSC170 for her internship. She was hired in December 2016 to teach online at BYU-Idaho and started on campus in April 2017.
Robertson has been an active member of the LDS church her entire life and is an “endowed” member who has been through the LDS temple. She has “always had an issue with religions policies on LGBT, but felt comfortable” with her own personal stance until the Nov. 15 policy on the baptisms for children with gay parents was leaked. Robertson said she has “been struggling ever since — but still remains a member of the church, and holds a temple recommend.”
Robertson’s Facebook post:
This article was originally published by KUTV. It is used here with permission.