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BYU-Idaho fires adjunct professor after LGBT Pride Month post on Facebook

BYU Idaho fires an adjunct professor after LGBT Pride Month post on Facebook (Photo: Google Earth Pro)

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) She is a life-long member of the LDS church 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, Idaho, 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.

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,” the post 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 services, among other services, being denied 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.

She believes a former roommate who’d called her out for previous posts on feminism was likely the one who brought the LGBT post to BYUI’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:

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, I thought I would reveal some things in the name of authenticity. I'd like to preface this by saying that, as an employee of BYUI, my views do not reflect the school or LDS Church. These are my personal beliefs, and they have no place in my classroom nor will they ever. Students often approach me and ask my opinion on certain matters of the Church, and I always diplomatically discourage the discussion and tell them to seek their own truths rather than a professor. My students know that I expect respect and love for all, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. and that's the most I've said on the following subject.

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 students on her Facebook page who’ve reached out in support of her, but did not accept such requests until she was fired.

BYU-Idaho sent the following statement:

Brigham Young University-Idaho has a long-standing policy of not commenting on personnel matters.

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.

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:

June 5th
In honor of LGBT Pride Month, I thought I would reveal some things in the name of authenticity. I’m currently a member of the LDS Church. This organization has openly and forcefully opposed same-sex relationships and legalized same-sex marriage. They pushed members in California to fight against Prop 8, and had a policy claiming that same-sex relationships were a sin and discouraged individuals from participating in them. In the past, the Church was a facilitator for adoptions. They ended this part of the organization to avoid having to deal with adoption requests from same-sex couples. In November 2015, they took their stance further by labeling same-sex couples in the Church as apostates, meaning those found in these relationships would have a disciplinary hearing to determine their membership status; they can either end their engagements in this sinful life, or be excommunicated. The policy also prevents their children from joining the Church until they are 18, with the condition that they disavow their parent’s life style. For an organization that places so much importance on the family unit, this policy sure seems to be attacking a form of that unit. 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. Leviticus 19:19 tells us we can’t wear clothing of two kinds of material… so, basically every clothing item ever has to be burned. The next time you see someone wearing clothes (which is always… so, you’re welcome for the opportunity to show your spiritual superiority), check the tag to see the materials it’s made from. If it’s more than one, tell them they should desire to walk around naked rather than wear clothing made of more than one material! Women, in Leviticus 15, we learn that God purposely made us unclean. When we menstruate, we are unclean for those 7 days. Oh, and anyone or anything that touches us during that time is unclean as well. You aren’t allowed to go to church at that time because you’ll corrupt everything there with your blood flow. Oh, and you know how God also gave us the ability to grow a human inside of us? Well, after a woman has a child, she has a period of impurity and cannot be touched. If it’s a boy, she’s unclean for 40 days. If it’s a girl, she’s unclean for 80 days. As a female, you also are not allowed to read from the scriptures (wait… how am I supposed to know about my impurity rituals then?! I need to know how to make myself pure after my period!..too bad). You also cannot preach in a church (can I use this excuse next time I’m asked to speak in church?) None of this is archaic, sexist, or totally illogical at all though, right? God commanded these things, so we need to make sure we make these into policies as well! What I’m trying convey is that we like to pick and choose from the scriptures, and if we choose to use the Old Testament as a defense for condemning homosexuality… there’s a whole lot more we need to be condemning as well. The Book of Mormon is supposed to be the keystone of the Church, right? It never once mentions homosexuality. What is does mention is that God disposed the practice of polygamy, and the Nephites are brought to repentance for practicing it…. yet, Joseph Smith said God commanded him to practice it. We can’t keep picking and choosing what kind of God we worship, and we can’t keep picking and choosing which commandments of his are to be enforced or not. 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. Homosexuality and transgenderism are not sins; if God made us, and those are part of who we are then God created that as well. I realize that my views counter the current day policies of the LDS Church, but I hope that over time the Church will come to see the harm these policies have. Church History shows that the Church has rescinded policies before that weren't doctrinal, and that weren't inspired by the Lord. I hope that this will someday apply to the stance on the LGBT community. 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. Trump can break the tradition of June being LGBT pride month, but I'm still going to celebrate it.. this month and every month to follow. #LGBTPrideMonth

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