Judge rules US seminary can hold students to marriage ethos

A US seminary has been cleared of wrongdoing after it excluded two students who entered same-sex marriages.

Fuller Theological Seminary expelled Joanna Maxon and Nathan Brittsan, who admitted they knowingly violated the institution’s ethos.

As a result of the ruling, Fuller will still be able to receive federal funding.

Valid exemption

Maxon and Brittsan attempted to sue Fuller under America’s Title IX legislation.

Title IX is a civil rights law that forbids any institution from receiving federal funding for discriminating on the basis of sex.

However, Judge Consuelo Marshall said the seminary was exempt on religious grounds, as entering same-sex marriages is “contrary to the school’s religious tenets”.

Religious liberty

Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represented the seminary in the case, welcomed the decision as a “huge win” for religious educational institutions.

He said: “houses of worship, and not government officials, should be deciding how to teach the next generation of religious leaders”.

Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court ruled that religious schools can continue to make staffing decisions on faith grounds.

Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said that the judges in that case “ruled in accordance” with the constitution, which protects religious establishments from government interference.

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