This organization asks you to speak up so you can be fired

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

On its website, the non-profit InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA describes itself as a “vibrant campus ministry that establishes and advances witnessing communities of students and faculty.” The 1,600-person organization ministers its religious teachings at campuses nationwide to both students and faculty by conducting Bible studies, training, conferences and events.

Though not a small business, the Illinois-based ICVF is similar to many other for-profit and non-profit religious organizations of all sizes that operate throughout the country. Recently, the ministry decided to do something that may impact employment there, and at other religious organizations too.

As reported by Publishers Weekly, IVCF issued a restatement of its belief that sexual activity outside of “traditional” marriage is immoral. To stay true to its principles the organization is asking all of its employees – from its accounting staff to its chief executive and director of operations – to “volunteer” whether they disagree with these beliefs. If so, they will then be “involuntary terminated.”

What does that mean?

Gregory Jao, a vice president at ICVF, offered this explanation. “Even though we are asking staff to volunteer their disagreement, we are treating this as an involuntary termination because we want to treat departing staff with as much dignity as we can,” he told Publishers Weekly. The dignity here is allowing them to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.

The move has sparked much controversy and a petition on saying that the policy “silences sincere disagreement” has more than 1,600 signatures of ICVF alumni on it.


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