The American Bible Society (ABS) is a United States–based nondenominational Bible society which publishes, distributes and translates the Bible and provides study aids and other tools to help people engage with the Bible. ABS presented its “Affirmation of Biblical Community” to employees in December. It requires employees to “refrain from sexual contact outside the marriage covenant,” which it defined as man and wife.
ABS will, according to its “Affirmation of Biblical Community”, soon change its policy towards employees’ sexual orientation. It will require all employees to adhere to orthodox Christian beliefs and heed a conservative code of sexual ethics. That means that the ABS will effectively prohibit sexually active LGBT people and couples in cohabitating relationships from working for them. The organization has a stance that this measure would bring “unity and clarity.”
In a statement issued in response to RNS questions, President and CEO Roy Peterson wrote: “We did this because we believe a staff made up of people with a deep and personal connection to the Bible will bring unity and clarity as we continue our third century of ministry.”
He added: “We understand there are differing views on these matters.” He also said: “This decision does not signal intent to advocate or champion any cause other than increased engagement with the Bible.”
Beginning in January 2019, all employees will be required to sign the document which also requires anyone working for ABS to be “involved in local Christian church” and to “resist temptation of deception, malicious speech, stealing, cheating others, and dishonoring my body through substance abuse.” Those who don’t will be asked to tender their resignation. It has already caused some employees to quit in protest. At least nine of the organization’s 200 or so employees have quit. More told RNS they are looking for jobs elsewhere and will likely take another job on or before January.
Jeremy Gimbel, a 34-years-old gay man who had worked for the organization for 10 years as a web service manager, said he felt no choice but to quit a few months ago. In a letter he sent to the board of directors before he left, he wrote: “I am hurt because this Affirmation specifically excludes me from the community it is supposed to foster. … The Affirmation will, like much (of) the political climate we live in today, build walls along the lines of difference, pushing away diversity and leaving no room for unity. I truly believe the organization will suffer. … ”
Photo Credits: One Week in August