Domestic Religious Liberty


Gender Pronouns

November 20, 2018

Christian Professor Forced to Misuse Gender Pronouns

Earlier this month, a Christian professor of ethics and philosophy sued Shawnee State University, a state-run institution in Ohio, for forcing him to use female pronouns to refer to a male student who identified as transgender. This is the latest episode in which traditional Christian belief about gender identity has been attacked.

The complaint alleges:

  1. In January 2018, a male student demanded that Dr. [Nicholas] Meriwether address him as a woman because he identified as such and threatened to have Dr. Meriwether fired if he declined. […] He declined, but offered to use whatever proper name the student preferred to accommodate this student and to make him feel as comfortable as possible without violating his own deeply-held beliefs and convictions.
  2. Unsatisfied, the student complained to the University. Rather than allowing the student and Dr. Meriwether to communicate their views as they each chose, the University sought to silence Dr. Meriwether and punished him for expressing views that differ from its own orthodoxy and for declining to express its mandated ideological message. […] Under their policies, all professors must refer to each student—both in and out of class—using whatever pronouns the student claims reflect his gender identity.

As an active member of the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), Dr. Meriwether “believes that God created human beings as either male or female, that this gender is fixed in each person from the moment of conception, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of an individual’s feelings or desires.”

In contrast, the university defines gender identity as “how individuals perceive themselves.” The lawsuit points out that “some sources say that there are over one hundred different options for one’s gender identity, including ones that ‘refuse to be categorized,’ that are ‘affected by mood swings,’ or that “’change depending on which friend you’re with.’” According to the University’s policies, said the complaint, “students may demand that professors refer to them by any pronoun they choose, from the standard English pronouns (e.g., “he” or “she”), to the standard pronouns applied in a nonstandard way (e.g., “they” used to refer to one person), to those invented within the last few years […] to any others a student idiosyncratically requests.” The lawsuit cited the opening graphic for examples of recently invented pronouns. In summary, the report says, “the number of possible pronouns is infinite.”

Meriwether included the acting dean of the department in the lawsuit. Before the incident occurred, she had told him that “students have a right to be referred to by their chosen gender, and faculty must comply or be disciplined.” A “professor’s academic freedom and free speech rights has no bearing on whether he must use a pronoun that reflects a student’s self-asserted gender identity.” According to the lawsuit, she initially agreed with his proposed compromise to refer to the male student only by his last name, but later changed her mind and insisted that Meriwether use feminine pronouns to refer to him.

The lawsuit also names several other university officials who displayed hostility and contempt for Meriwether’s Christian beliefs before the incident and during the internal disciplinary process. The chair of the English and Humanities Department, Meriwether’s direct supervisor, had previously showed hostility toward his religious beliefs. She had told Meriwether that Christian beliefs were “primarily motivated out of fear,” that “Christian doctrines about hell are harmful and should not be taught,” and that “religion oppresses students.” At a hearing, the university’s provost, who was also the interim president, allegedly interrupted Meriwether’s union representative constantly and laughed out loud when he explained the professor’s religious objection.

Fortunately for Dr. Meriwether, he has the best legal representation available. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has taken up his case. The ADF is a highly successful legal organization that champions religious freedom cases. Their recent victories include the Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop cases. At the moment, Shawnee State says it is reviewing the lawsuit, and the case has not yet been heard in court.

This is not the first time that states have attempted to mandate pronoun usage, regardless of whether or not that violates a religious belief. In 2017, New York City’s Department of Education issued guidelines which instructed, “Teachers and other school staff should be made aware of and honor a student’s request to be referred to by the name and gender that corresponds to their gender identity.” Also in 2017, California passed a bill to punish state healthcare workers who “‘willfully and repeatedly’ decline to use a senior transgender patient’s ‘preferred name or pronouns’” with up to a $1,000 fine or one year of jail time.

Recent attempts to enforce a “newspeak” of pronoun heterodoxy threaten our Christian witness. Christians are not just called to love, but to speak the truth in love. That means we should not enable a person’s mental delusions by affirming the person’s self-appointed identity over and against the constraints of biology in God’s created order. While Christians should be the first to condemn acts of hatred or words of derision towards people struggling with their gender identity, we should also bring the message of hope and truth by affirming what God says about people in Genesis 1:27: “in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The freedom to use gender pronouns consistent with Biblical teaching is an important part of communicating the message of the Bible, and if speaking truth draws persecution, then so be it.

27 Responses to Christian Professor Forced to Misuse Gender Pronouns

  1. Susan Lowe says:

    What about Galatians 3:28? What about Christ’s commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? What about Romans where we are commanded to “Render unto Ceasar?”

    Shawnee State is, obviously, a state institution that is supported by all taxpayers in Ohio, including myself. As such, it has a duty to ensure that everyone connected with the college, students, the parents of students, teachers, support staff, contractors, etc., are all deserving of respect. Dr. Meriwether is demanding respect for himself while refusing to respect others who disagree with him. That is unacceptable. It may be that his direct supervisor did disrespect his beliefs if she made the comments he referred to while acting as his supervisor. If they were having a philosophical discussion, she would be less culpable. But, even then, she should have refrained from denigrated his beliefs.

    However, Dr. Meriwether was wrong on multiple levels. It’s not his job to decide to disregard his student’s request. It’s no different than if he insisted that he be allowed to address women students as “Girl” or black men as “Boy.” Both words have been used to oppress those groups by referring to them or speaking directly to them as if they were children. If Dr. Meriwether is unwilling to show the respect that his student deserves, he should find work at a religious institution. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgt=

    Secondly, in attempting to force his religious beliefs on others, by filing a lawsuit, he’s forcing taxpayers, including Christians like me, to defend a non-discriminatory policy.

    This whole notion that Christians should never be made to feel uncomfortable isn’t part of Christ’s teachings. He called for us to extend grace to others. Professional Christian victims are making a mockery of Christ and they surely are driving people away from even considering what Christianity might offer them. Dr. Meriwether isn’t protecting his Christian beliefs. He’s demanding to be allowed to replace God’s judgment for his own.

    I wonder if Dr. Meriwether voted for President Trump as about 80% of evangelicals did. If he did, does he get it that he voted to make an amoral individual the most powerful person in the world. He extended grace to an admitted sexual predator, who has told more than six thousand lies or made misrepresentations on significant matters, who disrespects anyone who doesn’t agree with him, often calling them nasty nicknames and denigrating them, who has been divorced twice and married three times, having committed adultery in each marriage, who has defended neo-Nazis and those who demand that native born Americans who aren’t white be relocated from this continent to another against their will, who disrespects those who have fought for us and used them for political purposes, who demonizes asylum seekers and threatens to order the military to fire on women and children if someone throws a rock at them, which would potentially make murderers out of young people who volunteered to serve their country, who gives aid and comfort to the leader/dictator of a hostile foreign power and defends another dictator who had a man murdered and chopped up for the sin of criticizing his own government, who put a man who demonstrated his unfitness for office for the nation to see, whether he committed at least two sexual assaults against fellow students or not, on the highest court in the land, and on and on and on.

    Christianity is in crisis, not because Dr. Meriwether has been told to refer to someone who was born with male reproductive organs as she or because schoolkids can’t sing “Away in the Manger” in music class. It’s in crisis because Evangelicals, particularly pastors, have allowed themselves to be told what is right and wrong by power-hungry individuals in the Evangelical movement and greedy, power-hungry politicians. If Evangelicals don’t get right with God, all Christianity is in danger of becoming a joke, having been reduced to a few tv preachers and white nationalists. And Dr. Meriwether is the canary in the coal mine.

    • Bill says:

      …and how about Galatians 3:26 “..all are sons of God, through faith.” That’s how we are to refer to those who are in the Church. Maybe Paul is referring to something more important that the semantic politics (i.e. tyranny) of the social construction of reality.

    • Albert says:

      You are contradicting yourself. You declared that there is a crisis because ” Evangelicals, particularly pastors, have allowed themselves to be told what is right and wrong” What are you doing is declaring a standard of right and wrong? Essentially you are saying that their definition of “right and wrong” goes again yours which is the world’s definition of “right and wrong”. Christ said in his own words that the world would hate him because he exposed their deeds as wrong and the same would be true for his followers. True love does not remain silent about a lie that our inner fallen nature is the arbiter of who we really are.

      The Christ that you are advocating for is a departure from the original technically an idol that appeals to our growing love of self in our society that Paul told us would be a major sign of the last days where people would look for teachers to appeal their itching ears.

      There are two kingdoms and we must choose Christ’s path knowing that as the days darken with many leaving the faith and hearts harden toward God that the few who walk the narrow road will face persecution.

      Ephesians 2:1-7 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

    • Lincoln Dunstan says:

      When, if ever, will Democrats get over losing the Presidential election…? Get over it tossers!!! Show some respect for the Office! Put up a decent candidate and I hope they win!! And I’m not American.

  2. April User says:

    How quickly universities have caved in to ideological mandates. God help us as we Christians navigate these waters.

  3. David says:

    ” Geneticists have discovered that all human embryos start life as females, as do all embryos of mammals. About the 2nd month the fetal testes produce enough androgens to offset the maternal estrogens and maleness develops.”— National Institutes of Health—so much for “biblical science.”

    This is the sort of person, who in an earlier age, would have refused to refer to married women by anything other than their husband’s name. People have a right to be addressed in what they consider a respectful manner.

    • Suzanne says:

      When fertilized, an egg has either an X or a Y chromosome, so is genetically either male or female from the point of conception onward. To portray a fertilized mammalian egg as “female” at the outset, which then somehow changes to male due to subsequent natural hormonal developments programmed by the Y chromosome is silly.

    • Honest liberty says:

      David exhibits typical inability to employ logic over emotion, a juvenile and immature methodology of moral relativists. Notice how he poisons the well, logical fallacies are a first line of attack by these immoral folk, who obviously have bought into this noticed of post modernism.

      Life starts one place, conception.
      Humans are male and female, period, minus rate anomalies like intersexed. Gender dysphoria is a mental disease, just like liberalism.

      David, the truth is not on your side, only your bigoted hatred of truth. Do you Christian folk need any more people Satan rules Earth? Look know many people fall for the pathetic sophistry.

    • AndyTGD says:

      Assuming normal development, females have two X chromosomes, and males have one X and one Y chromosome. These sex chromosomes are present in every cell in the body. They remain in the cells from conception until death and do not change. There is teleology present from conception which determines the sex of a human being. It is pure unscientific, obscurantist hogwash to describe an embryo with X Y chromosomes as ‘female’ because they are in the process of development.

    • diaphone64 says:

      Nice own goal.

  4. Lance says:

    1.A rose by any other name is still a rose. Ergo a biological male is still a male.

    2. Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.

    Secularism is a religioun that cannot be forced on employees of the State. And the State cannot limit the free excerise of the profs relligion or speach.

    3. God bless this professor for standing against the opression of secular religion & forced speach. God bless the ADF for wading into this battle with the sharp sword of truth.

  5. Jimmy says:

    I identify as an incel, neo-conservative, otherkin, specifically a Pug. I choose to identify as a pug because doing so asked me to use the men’s room, women’s room, your living room, out in public, wherever I want

  6. David says:

    There are cases, fortunately not common, where a fetus [a word that cannot be spoken by some] does not respond to testosterone and the person grows up to be by all appearances a female. The awful truth comes out when they seek medical advice for not menstruating. Rather than tell the patient they are actually male, it is considered less painful to tell them that they are infertile females. Anyone want to talk about intelligent design?

    People are now using religion to justify their own bigotry—a rather sad state of affairs.

    • Honest liberty says:

      David, these are anomalies and you know full well. There are countless environmental factors that are wreaking havoc on reproduction, to name a few:
      BPA, the major endocrine disrupter
      In utero Hepatitis B and flu vaccination. Look at the inserts, I have them in hand as my wife is pregnant, listed Mercury, formaldehyde, and thimerisol.. Not to be administered to children under four yet approved for pregnant women with a tiny, growing baby inside her. Oh by the way those heavy metal toxins do pass through the blood brain barrier and bio accumulate. Un accounted and untold neurological damage.
      Fertilizers in the food and GMO, and yes that rat study was plenty sufficient and ethical (might want to look into the conflict of interest between the journal and Monsanto/FDA) before you claim it’s been debunked.
      Fluoride in the tap water (poison)
      Hormone drugs recycling in the tap water
      Electromagnetic field created by all this modern wireless technology
      Need I continue?
      This is a toxic recipe of attacking humanity from all sides, and it isn’t illogical to expect deviations from the norm.

      This is the problem with you statists that put your faith in government; you don’t see the glaring hypocrisy because you aren’t capable. You too are religious, but are too proud and arrogant to admit it to yourselves.

      The only hypocrisy I see is on the modern left, folks like yourself, who undoubtedly also believe humans are the main driver of climate, of course, with little to know actual research. You want to depopulate humanity in the sake of mother Earth, but then preach diversity and acceptance, with some misguided moral superiority complex.

      I know your type. Filled with hatred, anger, resentment. Typically this is due to your cognitive dissonance, and you won’t admit it so it manifests as projection and personal attacks.

      I’m not a Christian because the story is a second rate astrotheology re-hash, but that doesn’t dismiss the basics of morality and objective truth.

      The real bigot are folks like you. I would wager you speak openly about diversity but live in all white neighborhood. Are you from Boulder?

    • D Paul Taylor says:

      Your selective and tendentious presentation of “evidence” really doesn’t add to the discussion other than suggesting a priori assumptions of your own, which, under the right conditions, can lead to bigotry just as readily as any religious dogma.

    • diaphone64 says:

      And I’m sure you’d feel the exact same if a Muslim told you Allah created only males and females (the latter to serve the former)

    • Lincoln Dunstan says:

      David, you obviously know NOTHING about SIN!!

  7. Dandelion Harris says:

    Our immature snowflake culture is a problem. There used to be a benefit to being older, possibly wiser. Now all accolades go to the loudest complainer.
    I am a woman, a natal female. I don’t want to be referred to as a “guy”. But in almost every situation, with men, women, old and young alike, my request to not be lumped in with men is denied. I have even been directed to the dictionary by a well meaning 85y.o. woman friend! If I were a snowflake, I would be well within my rights to bring suit against someone who denied my right to an unusual pronoun.

    Bravo for the professor!

  8. Denise says:

    Interesting that the person who wrote this very lopsided sorry also missgendered the student.
    Learn about people who are born with both sets of reproductive organs and you will quickly learn that the brain is one of the organs that is affected during development in the womb by the androgens that are released.
    If you are going to question science and what it’s saying them I also suggest you question your beliefs too.

  9. Mikhail Ramendik says:

    There is exactly nothing in Holy Scripture that mandates or prohibits the use of any pronouns or any addresses. Except possibly “brother” and “sister”, but the professor did not use those.

    There are, of course, some places that differentiate men and women. But these refer to life in church and marriage. A university is neither.

    The university being secular, the professor should follow Romans 13 and comply.

    More importantly, the professor could comply without even using the addresses he rejects. He is said to teach using the Socratic Method and for that purpose, to use Mr/Miss, which created the entire issue. But he is misapplying the Socratic Method. We have the method from Plato, and Plato – unlike conservative evangelicals – believed in a full dualism of bosy and soul. The Socratic Method should be as close as possible to a dialogue of disembodied, “Platonic” souls. Referring to a student’s sex defeats the purpose.

    The Professor should therefore use a sex-neutral address and reference for all students. They can be modeled on British Parliamentary ways, where “the Honourable member…” and “my honourable friend…” are typical. While in Parliamend “my learned friend” is reserved for judicial roles, something like this, or “my honorable student”, should be used.

    ALternatively, of course, the Professor can reject Platonic dualism and insist on a Christian understanding – but then he should follow this all the way and replace the Socratic method with the traditional Christian dialogue form, which uses first names, as Our Lord did. He never went for formal honorifics, not even to Herod or Pilate. Using first names also avoids the problem.

  10. Peter Wilson says:

    I doubt the student has any interest in the class he/she/it/etc is attending but is just an attention seeker with a desire to cause as much disruption as possible. I don’t have a problem if a person wants to be something different but don’t go around using it to disrupt everyone else. Perhaps professors need to be more formal in addressing the students, eg student smith, student kowalski etc. Interesting that the name of the student not mentioned in the article. PS Wonder if the student enrolled in a biology class?

  11. Nick Stuart says:

    Generally speaking, orthodox (small “o”) Christians evidence no appreciation that we’ve lost the culture war.

    The Left’s program of bringing everyone into line, forcing compliance as necessary, is accelerating in speed and vicious nature of the sanctions it applies.

    We will be made to care.

    Hunkering down in our church buildings, cranking the sound system to 11 to drown out the sound of what’s happening outside, and hoping the crocodile eats everyone else first is not a plan, it’s just plain denial.

  12. Doug W says:

    Delusional people imagine themselves to be all sorts of things that rational people know not to be the case, things that clearly do not correspond to reality.

    Next such people and their ideological running mates / apologists will be demanding to be addressed and recognized as decades or millennia younger or older than they are, hailing from other planets or dimensions, existing as other biological or inert forms of matter, notable historic persons, etc. There is actually no end or limit to the insanity / denial of reality such folk are attempting to foist on us.

    So it’s come down to this: the inmates think they are running the institution and are demanding that everyone submit to their militant, delusional, imaginary states of mind, whatever that might be, wherever their imaginations might run.

    Such people need therapy, not superficial things such as surgery, drugs, cosmetics, or pronouns, and certainly not totalitarian, Gestapo-like political power.

  13. Stanley says:

    If anyone doesn’t know if God made them male or female they can reference any high school biology text book.

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