Oklahoma Christian Withdraws Divorce Policy (Sort of)

University says rules were misunderstood, but that underlying philosophy will remain in place.
January 13, 2006

Oklahoma Christian University employees who get divorced need not fear getting fired -- at least not because of a written policy.

The university has withdrawn a draft policy that formally stated that divorce could be grounds for dismissal and that administrators would need to investigate divorces to see if they violated the beliefs of the university, which is affiliated with the Churches of Christ.

"There were enough people who raised concerns about the policy and misunderstood the intent that it was in the best interests of the university to withdraw the policy," said Ron Frost, a spokesman for Oklahoma Christian. However, the demise of the written policy doesn't mean that the policy is gone. Frost said that the written policy was just codifying existing practice, which he said wouldn't change.

"We will just not have a written policy, but in situations where there is the potential for someone to exhibit a non-Christian marriage model, then in that case, we would consider some action," he said.

Frost said that the draft policy "upset some people," especially divorced employees.

The policy draft had explained the need for a formal rule by saying that the Bible defines marriage as “a relationship created by God and not to be broken except in extremely rare circumstances.” A “very important” role for faculty members, the draft said, is to “model strong Christian marriages.”

When the draft became public this week, Oklahoma Christian came under fire. The Oklahoman on Thursday reported that Kevin E. Jacobs, a former president of the university, was divorced in 2004 (after he left the institution) and quoted him as saying that the proposed policy appeared to "completely disregard the emotional trauma of divorce."


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