within higher education Radical change or small step towards interfaith inclusion?:
Belmont University, a private Christian institution in Nashville, Tenn., plans to break a longstanding tradition of hiring only Christian instructors by opening some teaching positions for Jewish candidates.
University leaders recently announced that they are specifically recruiting Jewish professors to teach three of their graduate programs, hopefully starting this spring. The College’s Board of Trustees and Senate also plan to consider a similar decision at the undergraduate level later this year.
The announcement, made at a meeting of the Faculty Senate in November, was met with a variety of reactions. Campus administrators and some members of the local Jewish community celebrated the change as a step toward greater interfaith inclusion, aligned with recent Judeo-Christian interfaith efforts in Belmont. Some academics, inside and outside the institution, believe the change takes the university too far away from its Christian roots, while others say the policy is not inclusive enough, embracing one religious community and excluding others. …
The university plans to recruit Jewish faculty members to teach in the university’s law school, pharmacy school, and new medical school, which is scheduled to open in 2024. Accreditors of both the law school and the college of medicine prohibit the university from requiring faculty members to be Christian, but Allow the university to state a preference for applicants of specific religions in its job advertisements.
Greg Jones, Belmont’s president, said his discussions about religion with Jewish friends have enhanced his own faith, and he believes the addition of Jewish professors will do the same for the university.
He described Jews and Christians as “brothers” who “share a significant history, not quite a positive one, to be sure, but a significant history. My own engagement and understanding of what Jews would call the Hebrew Bible, what Christians would call the Old Testament, has been deepened in those interfaith conversations in really profound ways.”
Jones said Belmont may open up teaching positions to applicants from other religious traditions in the future, but “we’re not making any judgments about it now.” …
J. Cody Nielsen, director of Dickinson College’s Center for Spirituality and Social Justice, said Belmont is entering a “really critical moment” where it is modeling “that you can be a Christian-founded institution that still seeks to uphold the principles Christians”. ” and also embrace a “pluralistic theology”. At the same time, hiring Jewish professors is a “safe move” politically for moderate or conservative Christians, not a comprehensive shift toward interfaith inclusion.
He noted that Islam is expected to overtake Christianity as the world’s largest religion in the future, and that non-Abrahamic religions are too often left out of interfaith initiatives. “I wouldn’t agree that it’s the right step in the right direction,” he said. “I think if you’re going to do it, you better do it all. When you take a step to the next platform… there is a possibility of stagnation or complacency.” …
He Faculty Handbook 2021 says the university “may discriminate on religious grounds in its employment practices to fulfill its mission,” and “the university is better able to fulfill its vision and mission statements when the faculty is comprised of individuals who confess that Jesus Christ is Mr”.
belmont Vision, Can Belmont maintain his Christian identity?:
For the past 18 months, Belmont President Greg Jones has had one main talking point above all others: he wants to make Belmont the premier Christ-centered university in the world. …
But what does all this really mean, especially now that Belmont will now consider Jewish professors when hiring? …
“Christian” is not an official classification for universities, but Belmont is not alone in adapting this language. Baylor University, the University of Notre Dame, and Boston College are considered Christ-centered or faith-based institutions.
Like Belmont, Baylor University accepts both Christian and Jewish professors. Jones previously served as Baylor’s chancellor until 2017.
And while Belmont’s leadership has different definitions of what it means to be the leading Christ-centered university, they all stem from one thing: Belmont is evolving.
For some faculty, while they say the change is a step in the right direction, they feel it conflicts with Belmont’s Christ-centered and inclusive mission.
Pepperdine Caruso’s Law requires that our full-time faculty be active members of a community of faith. The majority of our faculty is Christian; we also have five Jewish teachers and Muslim and Sikh teachers.
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