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Taylor University professor says she was fired for using racial justice sources

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Education, Faith and Religion, Local News, Politics
Taylor University has confirmed that Moore’s annual contract is not being renewed. (Photo: Taylor University on Facebook)

A Taylor University professor says she’s lost her contract at the Upland private, Christian school for using racial justice sources in her classes.  IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports.

Julie Moore (Photo: julielmoore.com)

Julie Moore has been the director of Taylor University’s Writing Center and an associate professor of English since 2017.  But her contract is not being renewed for next year.

Moore says she’s been using texts from multicultural authors in her College Composition course, asking students to read and write about them.

Her syllabus includes works from Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, Ta-Nehisi Coates, articles on Trayvon Martin published in Christianity Today, and articles about a 1930 lynching in nearby Marion that was the inspiration for Billie Holiday’s song, “Strange Fruit.”

In telling her story to a religious scholar, Moore said that’s in line with the school’s “Multicultural Philosophy statement.”

“I’d avoid political discussions about policy debates, allowing students to choose such topics for their research papers later, if they were interested in doing so.”

Moore says she received a positive contract review in 2021.  And by Taylor’s procedures, her contract wouldn’t be reviewed again for seven years.

But in January and February of this year, Moore says a new university provost called her composition class a “sociology of race” class and said her contract wasn’t being renewed.  She publicized details of those discussions this week.

Taylor President D. Michael Lindsay and Provost Jewerl Maxwell previously served in leadership roles at Gordon College in Massachusetts, also a private Christian school.  While there, Lindsay as college president navigated a five-year legal battle with a former professor who said she was denied a promotion for publicly supporting LGBT students and colleagues.  The US Supreme Court declined to hear a case on whether the professor was considered a minister, which would apply different employment rules.  Gordon College settled with that professor.

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Taylor has confirmed that Moore’s annual contract is not being renewed and says its policy is not to comment on the specifics of personnel matters.

“With any contract non-renewal, there are many factors that impact an organization’s decision,” it wrote in a statement.

Taylor’s statement also says, “We understand and empathize with a faculty member’s disappointment when a contract renewal decision does not go as they had hoped.  We are fully dedicated to embracing and celebrating diversity as an intentional community striving to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which transcends all ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, and national divisions.”

In response to Moore’s story being reported, President Lindsay has promised forums to talk about “intercultural relations.”

It reads, in part: “Within a week’s time, we will host two forums – one for faculty and staff, and one for students – to give community members a chance to engage in conversation around these issues. During these forums we will not comment on this individual personnel matter. But we will be glad to receive and respond to questions you’d like to pose about how the University seeks to honor the Lord in our approach to intercultural relations. ”

The university says it will send forum dates and times “within the next day.”

This story has been updated with quotes from an email to the Taylor University community.