If you found your job suddenly at odds with your values, what would you do?
One New Jersey college administrator recently faced that dilemma. Dr. Cynthia Newman was the Dean of Rider University’s College of Business. Yet she chose the hard road – ultimately, resigning her position due to her deep faith.
In the fall of 2018, Rider University disallowed Chick-fil-A from coming to campus. This in spite of the fact that students, given a vote on the matter, preferred the popular chain over all other restaurant options.
But, according to NBC News, the school administration decided to block Chick-fil-A because it was “widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.” Chick-fil-A responded that it had no political agenda. But the battle was already lost.
Let’s be honest: everyone knows Chick-fil-A is a Christian-run organization. So what?
Few would avoid a Chick-fil-A because it’s run by Christians. To the contrary, its values lead to outstanding service that people appreciate.
Why should an organization’s faith background preclude it from participating in the marketplace, if it’s the preferred choice of consumers? In this case, students voted for Chick-fil-A as their top preference.
But they were overridden by the administration.
Dean Newman Resigns Due to Her Beliefs
This is where Dr. Newman comes in.
In a video interview with Campus Reform, she described her decision to resign as of February 14. That interview is below.
She described her reaction in the video (transcript is mine):
“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement, because I’m a very committed Christian, and Chick-fil-A’s values, their corporate purpose statement is to glorify God in all and to be faithful stewards of all that’s entrusted to them and to have a positive influence on everyone who comes into contact with them. And I would say that that mirrors my personal beliefs perfectly. And so I really felt it very personally.
But I’m not someone who makes a fuss typically or who rants and raves, and so, what I did in response to that email, immediately actually, was to reach out to some of the university leadership that I report to, as well as that issued that statement. And I started about a month’s worth of dialogue with those individuals. And basically I asked before Thanksgiving, I asked dircectly if they would please issue an apology for the offense in the statement that they made to the campus community.”
In response to her dialogue with the administration, the university issued a series of talking points to tell staffers how to respond to criticism of the Chick-fil-A decision. But they refused to apologize or change their decision.
“I took some time to consider what my decision would be. I took about three weeks from my last discussion with anyone before deciding that I was going to resign my position in response…”
Then she made her announcement on February 14, to a room of seventy faculty and staff she was in charge of. Consider that.
Did Dr. Newman Overreact?
Many would say she overreacted. Why resign a position over something so seemingly trivial? But the question is much bigger than Chick-fil-A.
As secularism increasingly encroaches upon our nation and all of the western world, people of faith face choices. Choices about how much to endure from institutions that, under immense societal pressure, feel compelled to push faith to the side. Choices about what their priorities are, as careers and other worldly goods hang in the balance while their values are compromised.
Maybe you wouldn’t resign your position over something like this. Fine. But ask yourself, what would be your breaking point?
These pinpricks on the bigger issue of faith expression in America are, bit by bit, testing and slowly eroding our ability to live our faith in this nation. Some people of faith go with the flow, not realizing how rapidly they are being drawn into secularism’s gravitational pull.
Some choose to act. But to act, there must be a line that says “no further.”
Whether or not you agree with Dr. Newman’s decision, you must ask yourself where your line is. For if you are a person of faith, sooner or later, you will need to know.
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