WENHAM — The chairman of the board at Gordon College said trustees support college President Michael Lindsay, despite the fact that “the entire institution has come under attack” since Lindsay signed on to a controversial letter to President Obama over hiring gays and lesbians.
In a letter addressed to the “Gordon Community,” chairman Kurt Keilhacker said it has been “heartbreaking” to hear how the college has been “mischaracterized and misunderstood” over the last two weeks.
“We are not interested in creating division within the church, and we deeply regret — as we know many of you do — that Gordon College has been thrust into the center of a political issue,” Keilhacker wrote.
Gordon College has faced mounting criticism over its policies on sexual orientation since Lindsay and other religious leaders sent a letter July 1 asking Obama for an exemption from an upcoming executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against gays when hiring.
An online petition protesting Lindsay’s letter has generated more than 3,600 signatures. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll terminated a contract with Gordon College to run programs at Old Town Hall, and the agency that accredits New England colleges plans to discuss Gordon’s policies regarding sexual orientation at its next meeting.
Keilhacker, who has been on the board at Gordon since 2001, said trustees support Lindsay’s signing of the letter “100 percent.” Keilhacker said Lindsay and all of the trustees are “concerned about Gordon’s ability to hire for mission.”
Keilhacker, through a spokesman, declined to be interviewed.
Gordon, a Christian liberal arts school, prohibits “homosexual practice” as part of its statements of faith and of life and conduct that students and faculty sign.
Keilhacker said preserving those statements is “fundamental to Gordon’s future.” But he also said Lindsay and his staff will meet with “different Gordon constituencies” to discuss concerns that have been raised and share those conversations with the board of trustees.
“We intend to dedicate a portion of our meeting time over the next year to explore further how we can address some of the complexities surrounding the intersection of individual rights and community expectations,” Keilhacker wrote.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.