can an employer require you to be “sexually pure”?

A reader writes:

I have been working in the nonprofit industry for two years, and I am currently looking for a new job in a new city. Many nonprofits, including the one I currently work with, are affiliated with religious organizations. This is fine with me, even as a person who does not practice religion.

However, I was recently filling out an application that asked me to agree to a “statement of faith” and a code of conduct. The code of conduct referenced scripture for each value listed, and many of the values were, in my opinion, fairly reasonable: responsible social media use, honesty, integrity, etc. However, I balked at having to agree to “sexual purity” in the application (copied below):

Sexual Purity: Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3a). We affirm sexuality as a gift from God and strive to honor this gift by conducting our own lives in accordance with responsible, positive sexual ethics and in accordance with Scripture. We will avoid sinful sexual behavior and inappropriate involvement. We believe that Biblically defined marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman, and a person’s gender (male or female) is determined by God in the womb (Psalm 139:13) and revealed at birth.

I personally will not be continuing my application because of this (seems like a toxic place to work and doesn’t align with my values at all), but can an employer even ask you to agree to these things? This seems like a gross overstep and beyond the scope of what an employer should be concerned about, but I am glad I learned this about the org before I finished applying! I am baffled.


Whether it’s legal depends on a few different factors.

First, federal law doesn’t permit employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate on the basis of religious belief or practice. Some state-level laws kick in at a lower number of employees.

However, federal law exempts religious organizations from that law and allows them to prefer members of their religion in hiring and other employment practices — but that exception applies only to organizations whose “purpose and character are primarily religious.” (So a church, yes. A bank run by a guy who happens to be highly religious himself, no.) The law doesn’t lay out a single test to determine if an employer qualifies for that exemption, but factors courts have looked at include things like whether the organization’s day-to-day operations are religious (i.e., are its services or products directed toward propagation of the religion?); whether its articles of incorporation state a religious purpose; whether it’s owned, affiliated with, or financially supported by a formally religious entity such as a church or other religious organization; whether a formally religious entity participates in its management, like by having representatives on the board; and whether it presents itself to the public as explicitly religious. Without knowing anything about the employer, I can’t say whether they’d qualify for an exemption — but you probably have an idea.

If they do not qualify for an exemption to the law, then it’s illegal for them to require candidates and employees to sign a statement or faith or adhere to a religious code of conduct. The only exception to that would be if it’s a “bona fide occupational qualification,” meaning it’s specifically required to do this specific job, not just something they’re requiring across the board because they prefer it (for example, it could be allowed for a job as a spokesperson for celibacy, but not for a job doing accounting).

It’s also worth noting that this exemption only applies to religious discrimination. It does not exempt an employer from following race, age, sex, national origin, disability, pregnancy, and other anti-discrimination laws — even if the organization says that its religious beliefs require the discriminatory action. So for example, if they were only holding women to this “sexual purity” requirement but overlooking sexual behavior from men, that would be a legal issue.

So. Is this organization breaking the law? It depends on all the factors above.

Regardless of all that, I’m curious about how they’re defining “sexual purity” beyond just the homophobia and transphobia in their explanation. Is sex before marriage grounds for firing? Are certain sex acts prohibited while others are permitted? And what do they mean by “even a hint of sexual immorality” — are we talking about low-cut blouses? A racy joke? A lingering glance? A rumor about you started by the jerk down the hall?

It is a gross overstep indeed.

{ 492 comments… read them below }

  1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Good grief. I mean I guess it was cool of them to put it out there up front so you can gtfo and not waste any more time. I can’t even wrap my head around why the hiring folks would think this was a good idea or a worthwhile thing to pursue.

    1. Elle Woods*

      One explanation I was given about the statement of faith/code of conduct as it relates to employment is that it’s a screening mechanism. Candidates who cannot agree to them self-select out of the process like the OP. (I’ve done that a time or two as well for much the same reasons as the OP.)

    2. CJ*

      I’ve seen similar in NPO applications before (especially down in the Bible Belt, but even up in New England). It’s also extremely common to see similar in applications for Christian schools and colleges.

    3. BigTenProfessor*

      I once applied for an adjunct job that wanted me to sign something like this….to teach business statistics. They were looking for someone to fill a role DAYS before the semester started and a friend of a friend had given them my name.


        1. Queer Earthling*

          I went to a religious university that definitely banned those things for students, and it was a Big Deal when they rescinded the ban on drinking for faculty. (I don’t remember what happened to the dancing rule; i do remember that you were allowed to dance if you got special permission from someone or other, so a lot of my friends took swing dance lessons. I suspect the rule was still officially in place to appease someone higher up.)

          1. Former Eagle*

            I don’t know the rule for the faculty, but my former university banned all alcohol and dancing – you faced expulsion if you were caught at a dance club. Luckily they never patrolled my favorite club!

          2. Crooked Bird*

            Oh, I think I was there! I was happy for my profs. (Didn’t care as regarded myself, I was graduating.) Weirdly, I don’t remember what happened to the dancing rule either.

      1. Worldwalker*

        The Boy Scouts of America requite one to sign an oath stating, among other things, a person cannot be a good person without believing in God … to become a badge counselor. Yeah, to sign off on a form saying that someone can identify five kinds of leather, knows how to care for a baseball glove, and has made a belt.

        When I took issue with this, the Assistant District Commissioner said “just sign it; everyone does” — (I don’t remember any exemptions for BSA officials in “A Scout is trustworthy”) and the District Commissioner said “We don’t want people like you working with the boys.” The kind they did want, apparently, was the kind who left the fat boy behind on a hike when he couldn’t keep up … and never saw him again. Which happened in that district. Or the kind who have led to millions of dollars in lawsuits. But not the kind of person who believes that atheists can be good people.

        1. Mari*

          Yeah… So, fwiw, when I was presented with that form, two years ago… That clause wasn’t there (I took a copy and went and checked just now). Apparently our council is… editing (or, you know, has figured that if you want parents to do something, you have to respect their choices?)

          1. Alice Ulf*

            I think this is probably a reference to Jared Negrete, who disappeared in 1991 and has sadly never been found.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              I sort of hope so. Because I’d hate to think there was another case like that. :-(

          1. PeterM*

            That reminds me of a friend’s story about being stuck in traffic behind a car with a bumper sticker that read

            GUESS WHAT
            GOD LOVES ME!

            She said she was very tempted at a red light to run up and ask, “Is it Thor? I bet Thor loves you!”

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah here in the UK they’ve changed the Promise that Brownies/Guides make (and I’m sure Cubs/Scouts too, but I was never involved with them so I’m not sure) over the years. Back in the dark ages when I was a Brownie, it was ‘I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and to help other people, and to keep the [Brownie] Guide Law’. Then some years ago they changed it to ‘…my God’ instead of just ‘God’, and now it’s completely different and goes ‘I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the King and my community, to help other people and to keep the [Brownie] Guide Law’. You could still argue with the King bit but the rest of it is much, much better.

            1. Marguerite*

              Girl Scouts in the US still has “to serve God and my country” as part of the Promise, but has a footnote that “God” can be replaced with whatever the person saying the Promise wants to put there. While I understand that the Promise is a valued tradition, I prefer the Girlguiding Promise. It seems more inclusive to atheists (who have to just be quiet in the middle of the Girl Scout Promise) or to those who have different beliefs to others in their troop (especially if the troop meets in a religious building), and is easier on kids who may be questioning the beliefs of their parents or guardians.

            2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

              This was the kind of thing that led to my mother enrolling me in the Woodcraft Folk due to her fixed aversion to God and the Monarchy. (I was kicked out for being insufficiently communal, but that’s another thing entirely)

      2. TW1968*

        It always seems that people who have these bizarre ultraconservative public views are later ones found engaging in some pretty illegal behavior such as “Arizona GOP candidate caught *** in front of preschool”.

    4. Here for the Insurance*

      “I can’t even wrap my head around why the hiring folks would think this was a good idea or a worthwhile thing to pursue.”

      Because it shows them applicants they’ll be able to bully and browbeat if hired.

      They can claim it’s religious belief until they’re blue in the face. They will never convince me it’s about anything other than control.

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Pretty sure the gender part is breaking a law, even for a religious organization, since it means that they are engaging (or will engage) in gender discrimination against non-binary and trans people.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        Is it, though? Unless I’m misunderstanding (which is entirely possible), I thought the whole point of Title IX exemptions was so that discrimination on the basis of sex would be allowed.

        Not defending it – I think it’s absolutely terrible, but I did think that was the whole purpose of the exemption.

      2. SweetestCin*

        I don’t doubt for one second that there is likely gender discrimination waiting to happen here.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Oh yes. That’s why the declaration is so vague. They can define sinful behavior and inappropriate behavior any way they want, according to who they want to punish at the moment for whatever reason.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        I don’t think there is any way this is true, since religious organizations discriminate on the basis of sex all the time (for example, when have you ever seen a Catholic woman priest?). It has been a long time since my law school classes on employment discrimination but I’m pretty sure some gender-based discrimination based on religious tenets is legal.

        1. Anonomatopoeia*

          For the church, yes, and effectively this works for employment if the job requirement includes “is a priest,” but for like, that shouldn’t be a job requirement for roof repair, teaching calculus, or podiatry, so if the church has a school and a couple of business arms (home repair, medical specialties), those jobs should not allow discrimination anyway, right?

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes. I mean my aunt and uncle go to church and the minister needs to have a belief in the religious tenets of the church, the person the church pays to cut the grass does not (which is just as well in this case as their gardener is a Sikh). He just needs to be able to cut the grass. Imposing a requirement to believe in the tenets of the church on the gardener would be very weird in my opinion because it’s not necessary to his ability to do the job.

            1. Rex Libris*

              One of the things I discovered while exploring seminary in my younger and less atheist days, was how removed many of the pastors and professors’ beliefs are from “the religious tenets of the church”. At least among mainline churches in my area, the odds that the pastor’s beliefs are so nontheistic and academic that the average congregant would consider them heretical are pretty good.

        2. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

          If OP were a cleric of this branch of Christianity, I think they would be a bit less surprised by the demand. We can pretty safely assume that gender/sex discrimination isn’t relevant to whatever work OP does.

      4. Maggie*

        From the language Alison posted it sounds legal to me if they truly meet the criteria for being a religious organization. I certainly don’t agree with it, but it sounds potentially legal.

      5. Ellie*

        Me too – and if there’s no board of labor you can report it to, do you happen to know anyone in the media? I’d be tempted to forward that one on to a few organisations.

    2. LRL*

      I appreciate the org was up front about it!

      Even if there was some sort of legal action or whatnot and this code of conduct was withdrawn, still not a company culture I’d like to be part of.

  2. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I don’t see how this is enforceable if you don’t list every specific, possible sexual activity. You can’t wave questions away and assume everyone knows what you mean.

    Sexual “purity” is more of a state of mind than a physical status.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In practice for the orgs where it’s legal (i.e., the ones that qualify for the religious exemption or are too small to be covered by the law), it tends to mean they’ll fire you if you get pregnant outside of marriage, or have an affair at work, or are seen bringing men home, etc.

        1. ArtsyGirl*

          My sister got pregnant with her first child before she was married. My mother was a teacher at a religious school and was called into the principal’s office to be chastised by three men (the principal, the dean, and a religious leader) for not keeping her daughter “pure” and suggested my mother might lose her job. My sister was an adult in her 20s who did not live at home. I can guarantee they would not have done the same to a male teacher. Luckily my mother left that job shortly afterwards since the leadership was getting increasingly unhinged. Right before her left, the pastor gave a public speech about how open toed shoes for women were immodest and a sign of sexual depravity.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            They absolutely would not have done this to a male teacher. In fact, when a similar situation happened in the church where I was brought up, I specifically heard church leaders talking about how the woman’s father was an upstanding and righteous man who had tried his best to raise good children.

          2. Flare*

            open…toed… what the absolute f. Does he think the hole toes show through is, well, a hole that could be used in a pervalicious manner? If yes, I am very sorry to have to let him know that nature makes many such objects and it’s really on the owner of the wayward genitalia to keep things in check, toes or no toes.

            1. GlitterIsEverything*

              Pervalicious manner.

              It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that!

            2. Jj*

              As someone who used to work in footwear I’d like you to know that “toe cleavage” is a thing we talked about.

          3. whingedrinking*

            In Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives series, women are required to cover their left hands when in mixed company, lest the men around them be inflamed with lust.

            Somehow I get the feeling that this pastor wouldn’t see the joke.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              With what, a glove? Or do they have to actually hide their left hand? Keep it in a pocket? Sit on it?
              I’m home sick today I’m not feeling up to anything other than AAM… it’s starting to show :)

              1. Jelizabug*

                It depends a lot on the class status of the woman. Higher class women can afford to keep their hands hidden by, if I remember correctly, a long sleeve. Since they have servants to do work for them, it’s not so much a hindrance.

                Women who have to work for a living tend to wear shorter sleeves, or long gloves.

                This leads to some interesting embarrassment for a high-class woman who needs to pose as a lower class woman without showing she’s ashamed of her hand being so exposed.

              2. whingedrinking*

                What Jelizabug said. The narration even mentions that in some of the seedier establishments, the serving wenches have both hands exposed. A visitor to this culture expresses bafflement that “the men seemed to find this provocative”.

          4. Freenowandforever*

            After college, in 1976, I went to work as a teacher at a private boarding school in northern Massachusetts. There were only a few females teachers there. The assistant dean started out a teachers’ meeting by stating that open toed shoes were not allowed for female teachers. That’s all I owned. So I wore them. It was one of the many things I did that did not endear me to him.

          5. Mr McGregor's Gardener*

            None of us, male or female are supposed to wear open toed shoes. But that’s because we work in a lab, and would all like to keep our toes if we spilled something nasty.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        But wouldn’t firing someone for getting pregnant violate pregnancy discrimination laws? I’m confused as to how this would be enforceable without violating another law.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They’re not firing you for getting pregnant; they’re firing you for violating their religious code of conduct. The whole thing is a clusterfuck of intersecting protections though.

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            I swear I’m not being pedantic, but different religions have vastly different views on certain behaviors.

            Kissing? Holding hands? Hugging? Hugging sitting down? Dating? Dating apps? Being alone together? Sitting down together? The age of the chaperone? Is a father’s permission required for certain things? Is a dress code required for dates?

            It appears these rules are vague on purpose so these employers can inconsistently hire and fire whoever they want.

            1. ThatGirl*

              You’re right that different religions and denominations have different views, but this is largely through the lens of a specific bent of evangelical Christianity, and is mostly used to police women and LGBTQ people.

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Which is why that “hint of sexual immorality” line is so insidious. Different people will draw that line in different places, and you’re kind of at the mercy of your employers and coworkers as to whether or not somebody’s going to report you for being seen alone at a restaurant with a person of another gender or something equally innocuous.

              I would absolutely not accept a job with any organization that required me to sign something like this. It’s essentially giving your employer permission to blackmail and abuse you.

            3. FrivYeti*

              It’s important to understand that the sorts of people who write up documents like this are also the sorts of people who do not acknowledge cultural differences when it comes to morality. As far as they’re concerned, if another religion is doing things differently, that religion is doing things wrong.

              I’m moderately sure that in the minds of the people writing this, “sexual immorality” isn’t a secret trick to be able to fire people they don’t like, it’s shorthand for what they view as a very complex and obvious set of cultural norms which they do not feel the need to explain, because anyone who doesn’t intrinsically understand them is probably already in violation.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                The article Resident Catholicsville, USA linked above points out why this is a problem; you can genuinely believe you are following (your concept of) their rules in every way and still fall afoul. (In that case the person knew she was violating them by being in a same sex relationship, but when she was fired for “immorality” for being pregnant outside hetero marriage, she genuinely though IVF would not be an issue since there wasn’t sex involved.)

            4. Twix*

              The thing is these rules ARE vague on purpose. But not to allow businesses to hire and fire whoever they want full stop, rather to accommodate a wide range of belief systems that may make something a fireable offense at one company and a job requirement at another. In theory you would still have to have valid religious grounds for action taken under such a policy, and there have been major lawsuits challenging such actions on that basis in the past.

              I think the kinds of organizations that have policies like this that are actually legal for the most part really do have them in good faith (so to speak). It’s just that morality is such a subjective, nebulous, nuanced, and all-encompassing concept that having a comprehensive written policy would be impractical and trying to create one would be impossible, so leadership relies on an assumed shared understanding of subcultural norms and an “I know it when I see it” approach to what constitutes a violation.

              Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an enormous and obvious potential for abuse, or that it isn’t ever realized. Policies put in place for that exact reason and good-faith policies being misused as a justification for firing employees management wants to get rid of are both very real concerns.

            5. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

              Sure, but these people believe what THEY believe. They don’t know or care about other religions’ views.

          2. Up and Away*

            Which brings up the whole idea of discriminating based on sex, because a man could have violated the very same code of conduct, and they would never know about it because he can’t get pregnant! Just so gross.

        2. lyngend (canada)*

          I saw an article of a woman fired for getting pregnant a month before she was married. When the organization knew she was living with her fiance. (this was a few years back)
          was a religious school

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Yep. Years ago my aunt was a teacher at a religious based private school. She had an affair and got a divorce and was fired pretty much immediately after her ex-husband let them know.

          1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

            I’m not sure. I think the divorce itself would have cost her job regardless. It wasn’t a cool move on his end but she had been basically cheating on him the entirety of their marriage, over 15 years. It was a hot mess all around.

        1. Rmaven*

          I do hope the ex-husband found himself owing a lot more alimony and child support after that bit of vindictive sabotage.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            She cheated on him for 15 years. Might have been petty and vindictive, but I hardly blame him for lashing out in that way. I’d have been mad too.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I just remembered that my mom was sort of gently let go from her job after she split from my dad and moved in with another man. She worked for a church-run disability services org.

      3. The Person from the Resume*

        Unmarried couples cohabitating.

        “They’ll fire you if you get pregnant outside marriage” always impacts pregnant women and practically never the guy (unless he were to broadcast that he’s a new father and it got back to the organization).

        1. BubbleTea*

          It’s also ridiculous. I got pregnant without having sex outside marriage, despite being a) married to a woman and b) in the process of divorcing. It wasn’t a miracle, it was science. Then again, they’d probably frown on that too – but there was no sexual impurity involved.

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            I’m curious how they’d view your pregnancy if you were single and no mention of a same sex relationship.

            If no sexual activity took place, then they can’t fire you.

            1. Ashley*

              It is the appearance, or they will cite some other biblical passage. These clauses give wide range to these organizations to fire people as they see fit.

            2. Sasha*

              In the link above they did fire the woman in question, because IVF is also apparently against Catholic Church teaching (I know more than one Catholic who has had IVF, but European Catholicism is generally less nutty than American Catholicism from what I can tell. Or at least European employment law doesn’t make as many exceptions for religious organisations).

                1. Beth*

                  My understanding is American bishops are more intense about enforcing the rules, so employment policies like this are more likely to come into play.

              1. Phryne*

                I think that varies a lot from country to country, both on the heaviness of religion and the amount of influence it has on the law.
                In my country, the Netherlands, the Catholic church is a bit more on the liberal side (in a very one eyed king kind of way) and has very little influence on law (Calvinism way more, but also waning. 54% percent of the population identifies as non-religious).
                But in eg Poland, one of the most staunchly Catholic countries in the world (91% of population identifies as Catholic), the influence of the church on both law and daily life is much bigger.

            3. Faith the twilight slayer*

              In that case, I would demand all of the other employees worship me, because SPONTANEOUS PREGNANCY.

      4. Beth*

        What makes me wonder on this is, most orgs that would even consider a policy like this would probably consider me (a lesbian) in violation of it just for existing–even if I was only having sex within the bounds of marriage, possibly even if I wasn’t having sex at all and simply acknowledged that I’m gay in an abstract way. The text of the policy also makes it very, very clear that trans people would be in violation simply for existing, regardless of their sexual activity or lack thereof.

        Given that, is the religious exemption even relevant here? Since it doesn’t exempt them from, say, the requirement to not discriminate on the basis of sex–and since we had that Supreme Court decision a few years back that confirmed Title VII sex-based job protections do extend to protect gay and trans people–I would think that this policy would be illegal regardless of whether they’re small enough to be allowed some kinds of preferential hiring. (Though I guess it’s hypothetical, since I can’t imagine any queer people I know looking at somewhere that wants a policy like this and trying to sign up for that environment!)

    2. BradC*

      Leaving it vague gives the organization the ability to decide when it applies, which is their goal. They are likely only to enforce it when they become aware of a situation they disapprove of (unmarried employee becomes pregnant, or employee is discovered to be in a same-sex relationship, etc.).

      1. CharlieBrown*

        Yep. Bad behavior by straight men gets swept under the carpet this way. It’s just a way for them to control and discriminate.

        This is not the entire reason I’m an atheist, but it is part of it.

        1. Phryne*

          Just out of interest, is not believing in a god (atheist) not something different than not agreeing with organised religion?
          I mean, I am certainly both, I don’t believe in god and I don’t agree with organised religion for the most part (though that would be mainly based on Christianity as there are plenty of religions and I don’t know enough about most to judge. I can’t imagine there being much to object to in buddhism for instance), but the reason I am an atheist is first and foremost because I don’t believe in a god, not because of the church.

          I was just looking at some numbers on religion here in the Netherlands and although 54% of the population identifies as non-religious, only 33% states not to believe in god. And even more interesting, of the people that identify as Catholic, 1 in 20 does not believe in god (this is only 1 in 100 in protestant and muslim groups).

    3. Vio*

      And what about people who wouldn’t consider themselves “sexually pure” as a result of abuse? Personally I’d refuse to answer if asked but if somehow forced I’d have to admit that I certainly don’t feel “pure”. However due to my age and circumstances it was entirely without consent and so I don’t consider myself to have done anything wrong either. For the record I see nothing wrong with any kind of sex between adults of informed consent, regardless of gender, gender identity, orientation, etc what harms nobody is nobody’s business

    4. Worldwalker*

      Which gives the employer a great deal of flexibility.

      “You are impure!” is pretty hard to argue with … which is the whole point.

    5. fluffy*

      As an asexual trans woman who has never actually had sex, it’s hilarious to me that I violate their ideas of “sexual purity.”

    6. Lynne679*

      Ramsey Solutions, the company owned by David Ramsey, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit because they fired pregnant women… the women claimed they were being discriminated against because they were pregnant, and Ramsey Solutions claims they fired them because they had pre-marital sex. Either way, it’s still really gross!

  3. Jessica*

    This is a trivial side note, but can some Bible-reading member of the commentariat satisfy my curiosity about the meaning of verse “3a”? I’m accustomed to the standard [name of book] [chapter #]: [verse #] biblical notation, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the verse number have a letter to it. When I looked up this verse on the internet, it just looked normally numbered.

    1. Two Dog Night*

      It’s the first half of the verse. If the verse is two sentences, 3a refers to the first sentence.

      1. Two Dog Night*

        Just looked at the verse–funny how they left out the part about there not being a hint of greed.

        1. Nathan*

          Tragically, all too common.

          As a Christian and regular church attendee, sex and sexual mores are given a far disproportionate amount of attention.

          In the early church, most of the activity seems to have been centered around social justice — specifically, caring for the poor and the needy. Some of the biggest drama in the church was around inclusiveness and social issues (is there racism in the distribution of food? (Acts 5); are non-Jews allowed to become Christians and worship alongside Jews? (Acts 15); should rich people be allowed to finish their own nice meals before the working-class folks arrive? (I Cor 11) — the answers are yes (but they fixed it), yes, and no, respectively). And yet somehow many modern Christians flagrantly ignore all that stuff in favor of a hyper-focus on sexuality.

          The Bible also includes many things that do not jive with modern culture and which by any view seem regressive and oppressive. I don’t want to cover any of that up or claim it’s not so. But I do resoundingly and emphatically agree with your point about conveniently ignoring some parts while obsessing about others!

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            As a Christian and regular attendee, if my church gave more attention to sex than to social justice, I would switch to a better church.

          2. snarkfox*

            Not to mention, no one really knows what the word translated as “sexual immorality” (porneia) really means. So basically, everyone picks and chooses what they think “sexual immorality” is and tries to subject everyone to their own personal interpretation.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Former evangelical here. This is a pattern when we’re talking about purity/modesty culture.

          If you dig into a lot of the verses people use to support the idea of “sexual purity,” you end up seeing a lot of passages that end right before the talk of economic justice starts. For example, when the bible talks about women dressing modestly, it talks about avoiding flashy jewelry and elaborate hairstyles because those things are about flaunting wealth. The idea that dressing modestly is about preventing sexual arousal in men is relatively recent and not founded in scripture in any way.

          So many of these passages have been pulled out of their original context and turned into weapons, all the while ignoring adjacent verses condemning things that the people doing the quoting would rather not talk about.

        3. Richard Hershberger*

          Keep going and look up the Psalm cited to justify transphobia. It says nothing of the sort.

          This is, by the way, an old, well established pattern. Sinclair Lewis described it a century ago in Elmer Gantry. When Gantry is in seminary, he learns the game of sifting through the Bible to find a snippet of verse that seems to support whatever position he is taking. What comes before or after that snippet is irrelevant.

          Sadly, as a Lutheran, this is to some extent Brother Martin’s fault. He held that any theological position needed to be supported by scripture. This often took the form of citing a specific verse. What gets lost is that this was not the entire argument. It was shorthand for a longer argument, which the theologians he was arguing with would understand. It is like the joke about the retired comics’ home, where they all knew the same jokes, so they numbered them and just called out the number rather than telling the entire joke. (The punchline is when the visitor tries it by calling out a number, he is met with dead silence, and told “Don’t try to do accents you can’t handle.”) The Elmer Gantry model is the dumbed down version, and all we see through vast swathes of the church.

          1. Verthandi*

            Having grown up Catholic and attended Catholic schools, I was taught that a good Catholic doesn’t read the Bible cover to cover, that you were supposed to stick to the verses for that week / season/ lesson plan from a teacher or priest (it’s been a while, so I don’t recall the specifics of what you *could* read). I took this as a challenge, and I’m pretty sure half the class did, too.

            Catholics also have a different Bible, too. We were expected to own one, and it had to be the specific to Catholicism one.

            I whipped up a big bowl of popcorn, settled in, and started reading.

          2. Heffalump*

            In the version I heard, the visitor calls out a number, and one guy laughs much harder than everyone else–he never heard that joke before.

    2. C in the Hood*

      In this case, that would usually be the first part of the verse. Similarly, 3b would be the latter part of the verse.

    3. PsychNurse*

      Some Bible verses are pretty long, so people will divide them into a, b, and maybe even c. It’s not really an official designation. But sometimes you want to cite a long Bible verse, but only the last bit is relevant, so you might put “Book Chapter: Verse, C” to direct the reader to the last bit of the verse.

      If you put A, it means you are referring to the first part of the verse. This can be important, because if you cite (as above) Ephesians 5:3, but then you only quote the first half, someone might say “Hey you left out half the verse!” If you put “a” it shows that you did that on purpose, because the relevant part is the first half.

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        Usually because the rest of the verse provides context that makes the quoted part irrelevant. It’s another way to pick and choose whatever meaning the quoter wants.

        1. Morning reader*

          “Jesus wept.”
          My mother’s go-to verse when asked to recite, during her childhood. (It’s the shortest one, she said.)
          Also useful for non-blasphemous swearing, in adulthood.
          Perfect for this situation.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      They are citing the part about no sexual immorality, but not the part about no greed. Which the author seemed to feel was just as important.

    5. Just here*

      It means you’re only quoting the first part of the verse. Here’s the rest: “or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

  4. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

    Absolutely loving “revealed at birth.” Got a sonogram that showed the biological sex? Hell. Did one of those at-home gender kits? Hell. Gender reveal party? Right to hell, right away.

    1. Avery*

      Also, I’m curious how they’d deal with intersex kids where it might not be so clear even at birth… besides the boring but most likely explanation that they refuse to admit intersex people exist, even when they’re something like 1% of the population.

      1. Jessica*

        Yeah, how about girls with CAIS? I guess they didn’t say to WHOM their gender would be revealed. Maybe it’s revealed only to god (though wouldn’t he already know?).

      2. NerdyKris*

        Most of these types don’t believe that intersex or ambiguous people exist at all. And it’s more than 1% of the population. It’s believe that most aren’t reported at all because they never know.

        1. Hosta*

          My father taught anatomy and physiology to doctors and nurses. In the unit about genetics, he only used a lab company provided set of samples. He never had students test their own, because 8:15 on a cold Tuesday in front of your ancient professor and all your classmates is not the time to learn you don’t have the genes you thought you did.

          I always wonder about what 23 and Me might discover but not reveal to their customers.

          1. Avery*

            I always assumed that 23 and Me and the like would divulge clear genetic stuff like that to customers… but thinking about it now, I can see why you would assume the opposite. For my part, I actually got my DNA tested through them, and as far as I know, the only abnormality was a fairly minor one that tracks with what I know about my personal health.

      3. Jessica Ganschen*

        Yeah, in practice, people (even people who don’t have this specific flavor of religious belief about sex and gender) will wave away the 1% figure because they have no idea how many people that is in a population of 8 billion. They’ll insist that intersex babies should be immediately sorted into “male” or “female”, often with surgical procedures that have nothing to do with health or quality of life but are instead performed because anyone having “ambiguous” genitalia is unacceptable to them.

      4. BethRA*

        “they refuse to admit intersex people exist…”

        That would be how. And I would be willing to be that they’d be 100% comfortable with children undergoing various surgeries and hormone therapies when it comes to shoehorning intersex children into “one or the other.”

      5. Dragon_Dreamer*

        Generally, they go back to the 1950s method: Encourage the doctor to remove any parts that don’t conform to the assumed gender.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      At this point, I fully believe people who do elaborate “gender”-reveal parties (at least ones involving firearms or pyrotechnics) are going to Hell. It’s a creepy amount of focus to put on a fetus’ genitals, and if we’re going to start multiple major forest fires I feel like there are less silly ways to do so.

      1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

        Like that one couple that polluted a community’s water source with their gender-reveal dye?

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        Side note, the woman who did the gender reveal party that made the concept go viral (and it was just a simple cake cutting – she likes cake and parties) is against them as a spectacle event, and notes that the baby in question has grown up to be a somewhat genderfluid teenager.

        1. Kit*

          It’s a little more than just liking cake and parties – she’d been having significant difficulty with carrying to term, and the celebration was that the pregnancy in question lasted long enough for a sonogram revealing the fetus’s AAB sex to be performed. What started as an event to commemorate a gestational milestone amidst the trauma of repeated miscarriages turned into, well… what we have now.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Alas, should’ve called it a “made it to X weeks” party/cake and it might have never took off, and we’d all be the better for it.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Seriously. It was one thing when you just cut into a cake dyed pink or blue (not my cup of tea, but also not actively harming anyone). When you start killing grandma and starting wildfires with your elaborate and poorly-considered pyrotechnics, it’s probably time to take it down a notch.

      4. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I just see it as an excuse to throw a party and get presents, especially if it’s not the first kid and there is no baby shower.

        1. Burger Bob*

          I’m excited for the day when people realize they do not need an excuse to throw a party. Maybe an excuse to get presents, but if you just want to have a cake and invite some friends over for funsies, I bet someone will be down to party.

    3. Pippa K*

      And I know this isn’t the main problem here, but it would warm my pedantic heart if people would please please recognize the difference between “sex” and “gender” tysvm. (In my perfect imaginary world, this would also make things linguistically more difficult for transphobes, major bonus.)

      1. Wendy Darling*

        On the one hand, yes.

        On the other hand “sex reveal party” sounds pretty yikes. Although maybe that just goes to show that the entire thing is a bad plan and maybe we should find a different occasion to get together and eat cake? (I do love cake.)

        1. bicality*

          I would much rather go to a sex reveal party because it has the offhand chance of actually being entertaining.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          But see that’s the whole reason why the concept is gross to me. It’s really a genital reveal party. You don’t know until the child is born and develops whether they identify with the gender assigned to them based on their genitalia or not, so calling it gender reveal is just inaccurate.

        3. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          On the other hand “sex reveal party” sounds pretty yikes.

          Exactly. Call it what it IS. Show how people are creepily celebrating a child’s genitals. :/

          (I–a nonbinary AFAB–tick off my family, who love these awful things, by calling them “genital reveal parties.” Family learned not to talk about such a gross practice around me. I definitely come out ahead here.)

    4. marvin the paranoid android*

      What I love most about it is how it’s fully shoehorned into the clause without even the slightest attempt at logical coherence. Just a friendly “You need to keep yourself sexually pure for Mike the CEO and by the way we’re so eager to let you know we hate trans people we couldn’t even take the time to start a new paragraph.”

  5. Alex*

    Now that I’ve finished puking, I have some questions. Since they are explicitly forbidding same sex relationships, and the supreme court has now determined that discriminating against same sex relationships is sex discrimination, isn’t this specific agreement now illegal?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My read of the Supreme Court 2020 ruling on this is yes (aside from the ministerial exception, like if you are a pastor or religious teacher) but I can’t say with certainty. Frustratingly, there’s a lot of conflicting info.

      More reading:

      And here’s an org advising religious employers on how to try to get around it:

    2. Student*

      There are also some state laws that protect “familial status” in employment, which generally include who you married, whether you are married, and whether or not you have children.

  6. ecnaseener*

    The transphobia might also run afoul of some state laws, or at least be a dead giveaway that other practices of the org are illegally discriminatory of transgender people.

    1. Hmm!*

      I think a state where “most” non-profits are religiously-affiliated is unlikely to have special protections for trans people.

      1. lost academic*

        I don’t think OP meant the entire state (or city, as she says that’s where she’s looking) had majority religiously affiliated nonprofits, just in her particular space. There are services where secular or governmental organizations just haven’t historically shouldered the burden of care for certain needs or communities and religious organizations have filled those gaps. I would imagine that in smaller cities that might be more true.

  7. ABCYaBye*

    My goodness! I’m curious about the how they define that purity. How far does that go? Can you not be on a dating app? Can you not shop at certain “Secret” stores at the mall? And are they doing full investigations if someone believes they know something about a coworker? It is for sure creepy, and it is good they show their hand in advance so you can choose to opt out if you want.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Do they go full Elizabethan & hang the bloody sheets out the window after the wedding night. (As one of my favorite English profs once said, “A lot of fake blood was used in the era.”)

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        You mean screwing your widowed sister-in-law under false pretenses then pulling out so she won’t get pregnant?

        1. Kit*

          Specifically so that she doesn’t have a kid that would screw your kids out of the inheritance because of primogeniture!

          Torah is shockingly silent on whether any such children would have to carry a certificate asserting that the balance of evidence concluded that its bearer was in fact human, though…

    2. FG*

      Alison’s outline of the legal tests reeeaaalllly makes me wonder how Dave Ramsey’s company gets away with what it does.

      If you are unfamiliar, go to the Nashville Scene website & search his name.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m assuming it’s because he makes a lot of political donations and the people who receive money from him are disinclined to investigate.

        1. Global Cat Herder*

          Not to mention the man has literally pulled a gun during a company meeting. More than once. So maybe people are afraid to report anything….

        2. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          So many awful things happened globally in connection to the 2016 US political cycle and increased public presence of neo-Nazis. But the worst may be that it was made crystal clear to the world how fragile the threads that hold society together truly are–that laws (and morals) literally don’t matter if no one with the authority bothers to enforce them.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, I was thinking how are they supposed to know if a man and woman are cohabiting or are just housemates? Or do they expect young professionals to live at home until marriage or to live alone (not always financially feasible) or to share only with people of the same gender? Theoretically, I could see somebody who was completely celibate falling foul of this because they were sharing a house with their old classmate who happened to be the opposite gender to them (or even the same gender, but not recognised as such by these rules).

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The “share only with people of the same gender,” I expect. With, in practice, a rider that neither housemate present as gay.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is where the “hint of sexual immorality” comes in. The employee doesn’t actually have to be violating the policy, they can be punished even if someone *thinks* they’ve violated it.

          1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

            Mine certainly would, especially if this is a mostly white company, as most white folks don’t know that Black hair shows length differently. Angie Stone (Black soul singer, big Afro) would have waist length hair if she straightened it, yet in its natural state, the ends rest on her shoulders.

            Mine’s much, MUCH shorter — not even a quarter of an inch high, currently — and yet, it’s generally only read as feminine by other Black people.

    4. Ally McBeal*

      They won’t give a full definition. Using arbitrary terms like ‘purity’ and only giving a few examples is a deliberate strategy that they can use to wield power over the vulnerable while leaving room to excuse people they deem to have a better status.

      a graduate of an evangelical-Baptist high school with a hell of a lot of double standards

  8. Falling Diphthong*

    Most of this is nicely vague. You could run a sex club–with no trans members, but possibly gay ones so long as they didn’t get married–and someone would argue this was fine and definitely within the rules, so long as the person with the sex club was high enough up in the org.

    Also I would think that while you can’t hire and fire based on protected class, signing pre-employment statements about which protected classes you frown on doesn’t really match that.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      Being involved in a sex club is not sexual purity.

      Religious sexual purity will mean:
      – No premaritial sex or sex outside the marriage
      – No swinging, non-monogany, polyamory

      1. CharlieBrown*

        Diphthong said “run” a sex club. That doesn’t mean they’re participating. Just–managing.

        Just because I’m the manager at McDonald’s doesn’t mean I eat the food there.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      This wouldn’t really fly with any kind of religious organisation or congregation if it were done openly, but there’s every reason to believe high up people would do it secretly. Well, high up men anyway. Men don’t get pregnant, are able to hire women to wait on them (and the word “purity” often seems exclusively for the purpose of making harrassed women feel like being extra quiet), so a lot of the time it just gets winked at so long as no one leaves their family. Oh, and they can always repent if something gets out. That seems permissible when it’s a guy. Never seen anyone rules lawyer the continuation of a sex club though.

    3. marvin the paranoid android*

      They don’t exactly say that they won’t employ trans people, just that they don’t believe in us.

  9. Just Another Zebra*

    While I totally agree with not naming employers… I really, really, REALLY want to know who this employer is.

    I also have so many questions about how this would be enforced. Is it even enforceable without skirting the line of discrimination (or traipsing over it completely)? So many questions that will never be answered.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I would assume a small religious organization that is unassuming enough this wouldn’t make waves in the communities it targets or serves. So naming it wouldn’t really matter.

      But I’m making a lot of assumptions there.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’m quite sure this is not the org in question, because it’s a college, but Wheaton College has a similar sort of thing when you apply there. It’s couched in gentler language but the intent is more or less the same.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I grew up near there, & boy was it infamous for that. Also, the town of Wheaton was dry (last I heard, they now allow beer & wine sales, but nothing harder). It was surrounded by suburbs where you could get a drink, so didn’t affect the regular residents, but anyone associated with the college couldn’t drink.

        Almost nobody I knew considered going there for college. Just a few outliers from conservative Christian families.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Wheaton hasn’t been dry since 1985 (and there are plenty of bars in town) but the college does police alcohol use for students.

        2. urguncle*

          I actually know someone who went to Wheaton College in IL! We were not friends, but we were friendly and had a lot of AP classes in common. She was probably one of the most pious people I knew at my public high school and she hated it so much that she ended up taking community college classes to graduate in 3 years and went into the Peace Corps.

      2. Office Supply Hoarder*

        Yes, there are a handful religious colleges with this sort of thing. (And lest anyone on the east coast get confused, ThatGirl is referring to the Wheaton College in Illinois, not the one in Massachusetts.)

    3. Pants*

      I’m Petty Crocker. I almost always want names. With this one…. I *really* want names. Historically, I notice the ones that do this the most are the ones with the biggest offenders in their ranks. I’d love to know this company so that we could do a Purity Audit. Surely they’d be amenable to that, since they’d like everything pure, yes?

      1. Four of ten*

        Love Purity Audit. Can they create the equivalent of a random drug test for Purity? Today is the day for Purity Audits.

      1. Look out, there are llamas!*

        That’s what I thought. Multiple people there have been fired for premarital sex. At least one woman was fired for coming out.

    4. pugsnbourbon*

      I encountered a “faith pledge” of some kind when applying for a job at a college – turns out it was much more religious than I thought! I did not continue with the application.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Same – was applying to smaller community/local colleges as an adjunct for bio/eco, ran across a surprising number of them that yes, were religious (I mean – I went to a Lutheran college technically but the only requirement was that you took at least one religion class, and most of the “freshman” level were multi-religion studies classes – I took a class on Hindu, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity varieties, etc.), but then took a deeeeeeep turn into “you must be PURE and free from SIN” for multiple pages.

        I wish I could remember which one contacted me twice to ask that I complete the application as they were having trouble filling the position after I noped out when I hit that part of the application.

    5. I edit everything*

      It could be anything, really. Small town human services organization, big city homeless shelter, one of the million and one “gospel missions” that operate soup kitchens, food pantries, etc. Even a community center (YMCA-style) operated by a religious organization, or as other have pointed out, any level of school, from daycare to university.

      1. academic fibro warrior*

        True. My high school had similar language in its policies for students and staff with an addendum that married or pregnant/parent students couldn’t enroll. Which was a fairly obvious push for ‘making the situation right’ in the way they justified it. But was not a religious school. And as other commenters pointed out, in practice this meant a lot of young women dropped out or were pushed out.

        As it turned out it wasn’t an uncommon attitude or policy in the area regardless of industry. (This was 30 years ago so laws were different then).

    6. Picard*

      Sounds very much like the from the Liberty University requires all of its employees to sign (if not the same, fairly identical) And hoo boy, HULU has a documentary coming this week re how the former university president fell from “grace”

    7. Mme. Briet’s Antelope*

      It’s not Billy Graham’s nonprofit but that’s ONLY because the wording is different. I had to go and check.

    8. DaniCalifornia*

      This is when I would utilize GlassDoor and leave a review about the application process. Not my opinion on how awful (SO VERY AWFUL) it is but just a “FYI you have to agree on this in your application” If anything it would let others know not to apply there.

    9. Lozi*

      I work at a church and this type of language is quite common in the church world … If not in the application process, then perhaps hidden in a handbook somewhere. Better to know while applying!

  10. As Per Elaine*

    I once worked for a religious aid org that had similar (although not THIS offensive) “lifestyle expectations,” which included celibacy outside of heterosexual marriage, among other things (like “you can drink in private but please don’t do it where our local partners can see you; it looks bad”).

    At the time, it was a situation in which the policy in practice and the policy on paper/for the church funders were not the same (and in many locations where this org worked, it was outright unsafe to be out and queer, so it sort-of felt like a moot point. Also I generally felt like “maybe don’t have sex with random people while you’re very far from home and emotionally vulnerable” was good advice, even if they were WAY heavy-handed about it). I was aware of a straight couple who did not abide by the policy and did not experience any repercussions, though I’m not sure that anyone in charge knew about their relationship.

    In the years since, a gay woman in a legal marriage was disciplined for not adhering to the policy, and I’ve concluded that this org and I are no longer in a “agree to disagree” place about it.

    1. Smithy*

      There is one religious aid organization that comes to mind where I’ve read their religious guidelines as part of being consistent with upholding their mission – and while I don’t recall anything like this, there was enough other stuff that was a real eye opener.

      While I don’t think I could ever get past the initial application, I’ve known some other people who made it through interviews and ultimately dropped out because of how they felt the religious guidelines would be upheld. Exactly where they are and are not aligned legally, I don’t know, but I’d be curious how many people outside the specific faith of the organization work there and particularly if any ever make it into leadership positions.

      1. As Per Elaine*

        Honestly, I got through the initial application because I answered “Tell me about a time you experienced discrimination” by talking about a time a pastor wouldn’t shake my mom’s hand because gay cooties might rub off on him from her too-liberal church, and how eye-opening that was to me as a small child.

        Since they accepted me anyway, I figured we could maybe be cool about it.

        1. Smithy*

          In case of the organization I’m thinking of, times when I’ve met their staff – they’ve been largely professional and nice to work with in my very limited contexts. And in certain circumstances have behaved in ways I found far more better in terms of inclusivity than some other participants from other similar secular organizations (or sometimes even where I worked).

          So while I don’t think I could handle working under those religious guidelines, my experience working with that organization on a few occasions as colleagues has never been problematic. All to say, if we’re talking about the same place or different – this would still be consistent with my experience those kinds of restrictions alright up until a point.

    2. Becky S.*

      Ha Ha! “you can drink in private but please don’t do it where our local partners can see you; it looks bad” even though those local partners are also in the place where alcohol is served!

      1. As Per Elaine*

        I think the expectation was more restaurants, etc. than, say, bars.

        And historically there would have been some missionary focus to this org, and it’s hard to argue that you’re out there shining the light of Christ if you’re out there being as sinful as everybody else.
        (To be clear, ^ is how they would have phrased it, not my personal beliefs.)

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          The alcohol fetish is a peculiarity of American Evangelicalism. It arose in the 19th century as a response to a genuine problem with alcoholism. Early on, there was a lot of overlap between prohibitionists, abolitionists, and feminists: a useful corrective to the assumption that stances aligned pretty like they do today. Prohibitionism then gradually morphed into the “I get to tell you what you can and cannot do” position it occupies today. In the meantime, the mistake the early prohibitionists made was to make a confused theological argument. It is entirely plausible to make a Biblical argument against drinking to excess, but they went with a blanket prohibition. You have to be extremely selective in your scriptural reading to support this argument.

          The upshot is that as a missionary proposition, dropping the alcohol bit entirely would likely be a win. As a fundraising proposition, not so much. The donors have expectations.

            1. 1LFTW*

              Grape juice. The unfermented kind.

              I knew someone whose aunt had a recipe for “Methodist Sangria” that was basically Welch’s grape juice mixed in a punch bowl with canned fruit cocktail.

          1. Queer Earthling*

            There used to be temperance gospels in which any positive or neutral mention of wine was translated as “unfermented grape juice” and any mention of wine decrying drunken behavior was translated as “wine.” They were the same words in the original. So, uh, that’s how I guess.

  11. Critical Rolls*

    It’s always good to have an organization be up-front on this type of thing, so decent people can just shun it without inadvertently ending up in a morass of awfulness.

  12. WillowSunstar*

    Not to mention, how would that even be enforceable without going all Handmaid’s Tale? Have to wonder if they would require female employees to say they are “of” their male manager’s names while at work. Just ick.

    What even do they consider “sinful behavior?” Wearing normal makeup? Not wearing a dress/skirt? Listening to the local popular music station? Reading a book that isn’t the Bible on your lunch break?

      1. Em*

        Had the same thought. We all know authorities enforcing what should be very personal choices doesn’t go well, and unfortunately it’s people like Mahsa Amini who suffer the most as a result.

      2. Summer*

        The ultra conservative religious right in the US is basically the same as those in Iran or Afghanistan or any other conservative country. There is almost no difference in terms of how they view and treat women and LGBTQIA+.

    1. Zephy*

      What even do they consider “sinful behavior?”

      Probably any behavior the boss doesn’t like, and probably specifically any behavior the boss doesn’t like from female-presenting applicants. Up to and including both rejecting and responding to any advances the boss might make (which he obviously would not have made if those hussies weren’t so gosh-darned sinful, so really, it’s their fault either way). I would so love to be wrong about this.

      1. Jenny Islander*

        Unfortunately you’re probably right.

        For those to whom this whole discussion is completely foreign, it works like this (but is not described in these exact terms):

        Persons with female bodies exude sex rays. The age at which sex rays begin to emanate from bare female skin is generally puberty but there are some purity groups that put it earlier. (Yes, really.)

        Sex rays have an irresistible effect on persons with male bodies. They just can’t help responding; whatever they do–fantasizing, harassment, etc.–isn’t their fault.

        Therefore, it is the female-bodied person’s responsibility to cover up–exactly how much and which parts are decreed differently by different groups–and also to efface herself as much as possible by walking, standing, sitting, having a body shape, etc., that is not noticeable. Because if she is noticed, she is clearly exuding sex rays again.

        And that is, of course, her fault.

        (Personally I prefer the old Christian custom of custody of the eyes, which is to say, if you see something that makes you all hot and fluthered, no you didn’t. But that’s Papist or whatever, so it has been forgotten.)

      2. WillowSunstar*

        Right, which is why I wounded if women wearing a skirt/dress is one of the rules. Would women also have to wear a head covering? I also wonder if makeup would be allowed, because some versions of Christianity prohibit it. Really, the rules need to be more specific. But the fact they exist at all would make me opt out.

    2. Selina Luna*

      I’m wearing a knee-length dress and a jacket, but my leggings have purple skulls with bows. The horror!!!

  13. Student*

    I wanted to explicitly call out that LGBT+ discrimination in employment is illegal in most situations. Federally, it is considered a form of sex discrimination, per Bostock vs Clayton County, Georgia (2020). So that’s illegal as long as the employer is subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, per AAM’s advice.

    1. And One*

      There are also many states with their own, more stringent laws than the Federal laws outlined above.

      1. Selina Luna*

        Yes, I think we can all agree (whether you are pro or anti-monarchy) that Diana’s marriage to Charles was an unmitigated disaster.

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        It was ridiculous and most likely was just a show before that. Diana rode horses! Most British women of that social status or women marrying into the monarchy did/do! Odds are pretty low that most of them actually had a hymen on the wedding night!

    1. Just another Fed*

      so, if someone is raped, then obviously can’t have an abortion because that’s a sin (and illegal in so many places now, grrrrr) does she get fired for getting pregnant? So abhorrent.

        1. TooTiredToThink*

          You aren’t being flippant – it’s the plot of a book called “The Atonement Child” by Francine Rivers – a Christian author – that she wrote over 25 years ago! A college student is raped, gets pregnant from that rape, and… all of the hypocrisy begins appearing. She’s literally one of the most famous Christian authors too. (It IS a pro-life book, but was very much calling out hypocrisy as well).

        2. WillowSunstar*

          And also she would be blamed for the rape, because that’s what people like that do to women.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        They will just declare her a “minister” and tell the court that means they don’t even get to look at the issue at all to see if there is discrimination. That was the 2020 supreme court ruling. It wasn’t even about purity or any of that in those cases. One alleged discrimination because she got fired for requesting time off for cancer treatment, and one said she was fired for her age. And the supreme court held that because they taught a few minutes of religion each day at work, they were “ministers” and the court had zero right to look at it further!

        Last I checked, the Catholic church didn’t find getting or receiving treatment for cancer or getting older to be violations of catholic teachings. And moreover, if they have ever not fired a “minister” for taking time off for cancer treatment or for reaching the age of the second lady in the case, then it clearly is not an issue for the church. This ministerial exception and its overly broad application (as well as its overly broad protection from even looking at the facts and circumstances) is disgusting!

  14. louvella*

    For a while when I was determined to work in higher education it kind of blew my mind that I was not hireable at a lot of the institutions in my (very progressive!) city because I was not straight. And also blew my mind that I knew folks who went to these schools, worked at these schools and interacted with these schools for business reasons and never heard heterosexual people talk about it as a moral reason not to do these things.

  15. ABCYaBye*

    Alison & others, I’m curious about something now: When I was hired years ago, the director of my nonprofit suggested that “we are all representatives of the organization and need to make sure we’re not shining a negative light on the org” with respect to things like not getting a DUI or something like that. I’ve said the same to people I’ve hired. I don’t care if someone is shopping at an adult store or out having some fun… just want to shy away from negative publicity for the org. Does that seem reasonable? Or is there a better way to phrase something like that?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is pretty common. I’d probably be a little tongue in cheek about it – “your personal life is your personal life but try not to end up on the news or commit any crimes while wearing the company t-shirt.” Your framing is fine just make sure if you’re asked to elaborate you aren’t overly restrictive about people’s personal lives – which what you write here does well.

      1. ABCYaBye*

        Thanks. I always felt like it was reasonable, but just got to thinking about it more with this letter’s gross overstep.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Also, the higher up you are in an org, the more you’re considered representing it in personal life.

      2. Nina*

        We have that at my aerospace (not remotely nonprofit) job as well – ‘there are tweets about how [company] engineers in [company] jackets have been seen displaying inability to operate an escooter. Please be conscious of what you’re doing when you’re wearing branded clothing in public’.

        If you wear a non-branded jacket over top, of course, do what you want.

    2. As Per Elaine*

      Depending on exactly how you phrase this, I could be 100% fine with it or side-eyeing pretty hard. “Shining a negative light on the org” is pretty vague and can cover a lot of things; I think the more you can give specific examples, both of what’s not okay (“please don’t drive under the influence”) and what you don’t care about (“we aren’t trying to police your personal morality,”) the better off you’ll be. Explicitly calling out “We don’t want our staff to behave in ways that will result in negative publicity for us” is probably also worthwhile; that makes it clear what the intention is.

    3. Zephy*

      I’ll +1 the “don’t get caught with our logo front-and-center” sort of language. I served with an education-focused nonprofit in Miami right after college; everyone working there was under 35, so of course they needed to be both clear and reasonable when laying out expectations for behavior while off the clock. The basic rule was “not while you’re in uniform.” In street clothes, do whatever, don’t get arrested. If you have a logo anywhere on your person, though, you’re a model citizen. My current employer doesn’t have quite so explicit a policy but I still try not to do stuff like jaywalk or buy alcohol while wearing a company polo.

      1. ABCYaBye*

        Funny you mention the don’t buy alcohol while wearing a company polo thing. I actually had that thought this morning. We’re having an event and I need to pick up some local beer and didn’t wear a company polo just in case someone saw me.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          To add onto that person’s comment, I have often seen these kinds of things come up in the context of a social media policy. For example, if you have your workplace in your Twitter Bio or LinkedIn profile, you should take extra care to be kind, polite, and nonargumentative online.

    4. Caroline+Bowman*

      The things you mention as negative are things that are in fact illegal or borderline-illegal (DUI for example) in an objective sense, unrelated to personal sky god beliefs around when a person is assigned their sex and who they can marry or impregnate and when.

      Getting caught smoking crack with minors would be objectively negative on account of being illegal. Getting married is not objectively negative, nor is having a significant other of either sex or neither.

      Clearly there might be things specific to an organisation, so a chain of rehab centres might look askance on someone getting incredibly drunk at a party and behaving badly, if not illegally, because it does reflect directly on the company, but in general, not so much.

      1. ABCYaBye*

        Putting it in the context of illegal or borderline illegal makes perfect sense. I think that, while adding a few specific examples of very obviously silly behavior (don’t get irate with a cashier on your lunch hour while in company gear) makes good sense.

        I appreciate this!

  16. Me ... Just Me*

    Some religious schools and even colleges have this sort of code of conduct. It basically sets the expectation of having only heterosexual relationships and one is likely to get disciplined for “living in sin” with their SO. Pregnancy outside of marriage is a huge no-no, as well.

    I guess they assume that anyone who wants to work there would express their values surrounding sexuality.

    1. Rachel at Work*

      Yes, it’s been extremely common for years for religious schools to force teachers to agree to similar employment terms. We’ve known people whose terms of employment at religious K-12 schools dictate their alcohol consumption, sexual and marital choices, what schools their children can attend, and even in which neighborhoods employees can live.

      1. Zephy*

        I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that even secular schoolteachers were expected to be unmarried women, who were then further expected to quit teaching when they did get married.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Or had a kid! Same as women in the military. I know of more than one Boomer woman who could work while married but was not allowed to stay in their position once their first child was born.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            My mother-in-law (a Boomer) marveled that I was not required to quit my job once visibly pregnant with my first child and that they let me come back after the baby was born.

            1. Not Again*

              I’m a boomer (born in 1955). I’ve worked since graduating college in 1977, in various professional capacities. Had a child as a single parent, no one batted an eye, worked up to almost delivery. Don’t know anyone who experience what you say here.

              1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

                I remember the 1970’s. I was a teenager then, and things were very different in different parts of the country, and in big cities vs small cities or towns. People used to move to the big city when they were gay! because they got harrassed where they’d grown up, or kicked out of the house as teenagers if they came out. Things have changed a lot since then.

              2. lyngend (canada)*

                I think people are getting the silent generation and boomer gen mixed up (my mom is a boomer, my grandma a silent. I’m a millennial)

                1. Charlotte Lucas*

                  These were mid-60s to early 70s situations.

                  I know the difference between late Silent Generation & early Boomer, as my father’s the first & my mother’s the second. And pregnancy discrimination was not illegal until 1978. Women could even get credit cards in their own names 4 years earlier.

              3. NotAnotherManager!*

                I don’t know what to tell you. My MIL is nearly 10 years older than you and was working as a secretary in the Midwest when my spouse and his sibling were born in the early 1970s. The way she spoke about it, it sounds like it was pretty normal and expected for her peers in the secretarial pool. I’m sure others had different experiences, doesn’t mean she didn’t have hers.

              4. Autumn*

                I remember a high school gym teacher who “had” to go on mat leave as soon as she showed, she was married and this was the early 1980’s. She came back the following fall. My mom, definitely was silent generation, she had to leave her library job when her pregnancy was apparent,(1954) she did what she could to hide it as long as possible because my dad was a grad student and they needed the money.

        2. Caroline+Bowman*

          where I grew up it was actual law that FEMALE teachers HAD to leave their jobs by the end of the school year in which they married, because ”now they have a husband to support them”. You could – the generosity – do short term sub covers, but never be employed permanently as a married woman as a teacher. The end.

          It meant that quite a lot of young teachers married at the very beginning of a school year and then got to work the rest of the year before being forcibly retrenched.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I’ve heard of couples during the Depression hiding that they were married from their employees so that the wife could continue working & earning an income. (There was a period when my grandmother was a teenager that she was the only person working in her household. She was more hireable because women could be paid less.)

            1. UKDancer*

              My Godmother found out she had a brother she hadn’t expected because her parents hid their marriage (in the 1930s) so her mother could keep working as she’d have had to give up work at the post office otherwise. They couldn’t afford to raise the child, so they had him in secret and gave him up for adoption. They “married” officially when they could afford it. My godmother’s brother found her when they were both in their 60s.

        3. Starbuck*

          This must have varied a lot though; my grandmother was a teacher in the 50s and 60s, married with kids the whole time. This was in Ohio and California.

    2. Angstrom*

      At a local public school — not a religious school — a popular teacher/coach was fired because she had a side gig dancing in a strip club in a different town. There were no complaints about her behavior at her day job. She was still seen by some as a “bad influence”.

    3. Grad School Attempt 2*

      I’m a grad student at a Catholic university, and my school is pretty famous for having a code of conduct which prohibits students from having premarital sex. So it’s kind of funny reading all of these “Ew, no!” responses when that rule is just a normal, everyday part of life at my workplace. (Though I do realize that grad school is not the same as an ordinary job, even though it is my full-time job which pays me a salary.)

      That said, I’ve also never heard of the university cracking down on any grad student for this. They certainly can’t monitor what we’re doing in our private, off-campus residences. However, I have always been curious what would happen if a grad student became pregnant out of wedlock; I have no idea whether they would get in trouble.

      1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        Do you really approve of these rules, though? Doesn’t it worry you that a colleague could be expelled for getting pregnant?

      1. CharlieBrown*

        I would get in so much trouble there:

        “‘Wedlock’? I thought you said ‘warlock’. That’s something entirely different, then!”

    1. Jessica*

      But they can’t know if you’ll get married in future. So it seems like premarital sex is a crime that could only be prosecuted posthumously, and the verdict would always be not guilty. ;-)

  17. Uldi*

    I have a pretty strong suspicion as to which organization this is referring to, and if I’m right then they technically qualify as being a religious organization.

    I’d advise OP to do some quick checks to find and identify the parent organization and just blacklist it and every sub-org and associated orgs because all of them require these frankly gross standards.

    1. Me ... Just Me*

      There are lots of religious based organizations who have these types of rules. I sent my kids to a private Catholic school and I’m sure they had something like this, as there was a big hub-bub one year when one of the teachers became pregnant out of wedlock. This was a decade ago.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was raised Catholic but my father refused to send us to Catholic school. Number one reason was his childhood experience. But I think his strong belief in the labor movement also had something to do with it.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          I can guarantee I’m not your father.

          I was also raised Catholic, was sent to Catholic schools, and now re-freaking-fuse to send my own children.

          1. The local Catholic schools did absolutely nothing to protect students from actual sexual predators during my time in them. Boy or girl, you were prey, and the powers that be did exactly nothing except gaslight us and any parents who actually believed us. Oh, and move the worst offender several grades down so that he “wouldn’t be tempted by promiscuous young women”. Excuse us, we were several YEARS below the age of consent in our state, he’s a grown adult with a wife and family, please bugger right off.

          2. Our teachers were not members of the local teacher’s union, and were underpaid to a point where it should have been criminal. And then shaming teachers who left for losing their passion – no, it was threat of losing a roof over their heads.

          1. Bob-White of the Glen*

            At my Catholic school (years after I graduated) the priest who was the high school principal cost the Catholic Church 5 million dollar for one sex abuse case alone. Who knows how many teen boys he damaged over the decades.

            The former Father Michael Harris last I heard was doing work (or volunteering, not sure of the details) with a San Diego State fraternity.

            Never liked the guy. He’d shake your hand while looking past you for a more important students. But most of the kids loved him. I guess some unwillingly.

  18. Bernice Clifton*

    “We believe that Biblically defined marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman”

    I know plenty of marriages that are monogamous, one man & woman that have nothing to do with the Christian bible at all, and marriages where weddings took place in Christian churches to appease parents and grandparents where the couple doesn’t practice any religion.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Also, they don’t read their Bible that well. Because there are multiple marriages all over the OT. (Not condoning, just pointing out that the Bible was written by & for a different culture at a different time in a different location than most of us currently live )

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      This was us, and I would do it differently if I had it to do over again. I also found out a decade into my marriage that my MIL was apparently scandalized that the minister who married us was a woman (and, my spouse, bless him, shut that down immediately and before it came onto my radar at all).

    3. MurpMaureep*

      My husband and I are both atheists but were married by a progressive Protestant minister who was a family friend and had the ceremony at the local Friends Meeting House (my parents are Quakers). The minister was pretty low key about the religious trappings and mostly kept the premarital counseling to secular subjects. He recognized we were good people who loved one another and wanted to make this commitment to one another.

      We picked this option to appease some of my family and also sidestep getting pressure from his family to have a traditional Catholic wedding. I’ve always been at peace with it because it didn’t feel like we were committing to anything in which we didn’t believe and it also meant that I didn’t have to Take A Stand with some of my beloved family members who would not have understood a civil service.

      Twenty eight years later, I still have fond memories of the service and celebration, but yeah we have nothing to do with organized religion!

      1. londonedit*

        Tons of people here get married in a church despite having practically nothing to do with religion. The C of E doesn’t really mind too much as long as you’ve got some sort of connection to the physical church building (like it’s in the village where you grew up) – they’ll probably want you to show your face at a few Sunday services but those are of the ‘sing a few hymns and listen to the announcements about who’s doing the flowers next week’ variety so a lot of people don’t find it too much of a hardship. Church attendance is so low these days that weddings are one of the main ways to get people through the door. C of E churches are often beautiful historic buildings (the one where I grew up is over 750 years old and has a medieval rood screen) in pretty English villages so a lot of people want to get married in one for the aesthetic value more than anything else.

  19. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

    Missed a big one on the list of other illegal discriminations: sexual orientation.

    Yet to be federal, but some states and cities have it as a protected class.

      1. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

        Yes I see how it’s tricky federally. But in some cities/states, the law is abundantly clear.

        I’m guessing this place is not hosted in any of those cities/states, but their funding and reach could be in those cities/states. What a mess.

    1. JulieH413*

      This job is in the South. The state does not have great protections for LGBTQ+ people, according to the HRC scorecard. I currently live in the Midwest, so while this doesn’t make me happy, it is pretty much the same where I am.

    2. grapefruit*

      Sexual orientation discrimination is covered by the 2020 Bostock decision – it’s a form of sex discrimination and illegal under Title VII. And yes, some states and municipalities have spelled out that protection more specifically. But if this organization falls under a religious exemption, even in the locations that protect sexual orientation more explicitly they can likely get away with this.

  20. just another queer reader*

    I really want this organization to fill out one of those “yes/ no/ maybe” charts to spell out which sex acts their employees are allowed to engage in.

    1. Caroline+Bowman*

      This has me thinking of that song by Garfunkel and Oates ”the loophole”. Now I’m snorting and I can’t tell my kids why.

      1. SarahKay*

        I’d never come across that song until I googled it just now after your comment. It’s awesome, and I’m also pleased by the irony that had it not been for OP’s question about the religious non-profit’s absurd hiring practices, I might never have come across it.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      With little icon stick-figure diagrams.

      I honestly want to apply there and get a job just so I can get them to do this for clarity.

      “Okay, so a pineapple is okay, but a watermelon is a no-no. Got it!”

  21. Observer*

    There is another issue here if this is not a religious organization. These requirements are explicitly based in a specific religious tradition. So on top of the broad overreach on one area, they are also essentially requiring everyone to live by the religious dictates of a *particular* religion.

    Now, in an organization that has a particular religious mission that makes sense for people who are doing jobs related to the mission of the organization. But for people who are not in that kind of role it’s a problem.

  22. purplemonstera*

    At my (Catholic) college, many students were on scholarships for various jobs and volunteer work related to campus ministry. As part of those scholarships, they made us sign morality agreements that more or less said we couldn’t do anything that constituted a mortal sin or caused scandal (so if you were caught with a member of the opposite sex overnight in your dorm, that counted even if absolutely nothing sexual happened. Women in particular were chastised for all sorts of behavior that the adult staff thought might be sexual). Any breach whatsoever meant they could fire you and you would have to repay your whole scholarship for that semester, even if you had worked 15 out of the 16 weeks.

    In practice, they rarely enforced this clause. If they had followed it to the letter, they would have to fire the majority of their staff every single semester since not sinning isn’t a realistic expectation to have of anyone, even the most devout college student.

    I always wondered if the cases where they did enforce it constituted actionable legal discrimination. For example, some of the students who got disciplined:
    -a male freshman who got caught stealing computer equipment, tested positive for an illegal substance, and was expelled from the school (lost scholarship)
    -a female freshman who got pregnant and kept the baby (lost scholarship)
    -a female student under 21 who went to a party where underage drinking was happening but did not drink (probation)
    -a female student who allegedly bullied another student (probation)

    but the students who didn’t get disciplined:
    -a male junior who was arrested for public intoxication
    -a male senior who got his girlfriend pregnant, but she had a miscarriage (removed from staff, but still got paid his scholarship)
    -a male freshman who got the female freshman above pregnant (he left the following semester)
    -a male junior who allegedly r*ped a female intern (she quit when they assigned him to work with her)
    -two older male seniors who were so widely known to prey on freshmen that school staff would warn freshman girls about him
    -the underage individuals at the aforementioned party who did drink
    -the male senior who provided the underaged students with alcohol (school staff talked about how he shouldn’t take that kind of risk since he could face legal consequences, but never disciplined him for it)

    Whenever I brought up the double standards as a student, the staff insisted that they either didn’t know about the unaddressed behavior (but they didn’t address it at that point either…) or said that the contracts we signed made it so that they could fire us for violating it but weren’t required to do it for every violation.

    1. Cat Tree*

      Wow, that list is very obviously based on gender. The only time a man was disciplined was for multiple acts that are outright illegal and would have gotten him expelled from most schools, even secular ones.

      1. Grace*

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking – I’m a student at an entirely secular, state-run school, and if someone got caught stealing university computer equipment, they’d also get kicked out. (And probably criminally charged, unless they could return everything.) But unless there were women drinking underage at that one party, all the “probably should have been disciplined and weren’t” people were men.

        I am particularly unimpressed with them punishing the female half of the couple and not the male half. It takes two to make a baby!

  23. JulieH413*

    Hello, I am the writer. Thank you Alison for your insights! This part of the application was a shock. I did research on the org before applying and did not get this vibe at all. I won’t put the organization on blast, but essentially, I was applying for a digital communications position at a nonprofit that serves homeless people. As I mentioned in my email, I was aware that their services were motivated by faith, but they essentially provide food, temporary housing, and job training programs. I am not entirely sure how they enforce this statement of faith or code of conduct because I did not finish the application or interview (they have sent me three emails asking me to finish it – I think this turns many people away). Based on their website, it seems that they are supported by churches and larger Christian conferences, but they are not part of a church. All of that is to say that faith is not a necessity to perform this job. In fact, they didn’t ask a single question in the application related to the job or my experience. I grew up very Christian, which is why I have a good foundation for dealing with nonprofits that are religious, but I no longer practice because I disagree with the way the church has been used to hurt people, especially my gay family members. This org reaffirms that. I do not believe you can do good as a nonprofit while holding beliefs this prejudiced, and I fail to see how my personal sexual purity (or agreeing to be homophobic and transphobic) would impact my ability to do the responsibilities related to the position.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If you’re willing, it might be worthwhile to respond to their followup emails and explain why you’re withdrawing. It’s good for them to hear from candidates that it’s a dealbreaker.

      1. JulieH413*

        I believe the emails are automated. It has been easier to just delete them than log into the application system and withdraw. If an actual person reaches out, I would let them know I do not wish to be considered. I am doubtful, however, that an organization that lays out these values would be receptive to my feedback.

    2. Caroline+Bowman*

      This is very interesting follow up. I would respond to their emails asking you to continue your application with why you are not doing so, and asking if they proselytize to the very vulnerable people they serve or make them feel like they need to mouth whatever religious platitude to get fed or a bed or whatever?

      I would tell them how icky they are and how ISN’T IT STRANGE that the main tenet of Christianity, other than the acceptance of Jesus as saviour is to love one another. Only that.

      Beyond horrendous.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Long ago, during my first few years in the big city, someone told me homeless people would go to a certain religious organization and “take a dive” to get food and a bed for the night. By “take a dive” they meant agreeing to convert to the rules of the religious organization. Of course they didn’t mean it and they didn’t think the organization expected them to mean it.

    3. rage criers unite*

      I would reply to their repeated requests with “I do not believe you can do good as a nonprofit while holding beliefs this prejudiced, and I fail to see how my personal sexual purity (or agreeing to be homophobic and transphobic) would impact my ability to do the responsibilities related to the position.”

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Is ALL of the funding for this organization coming from churches?

      Because if they’re asking for ANY funds from the general community, this is something that I’d want to know before donating to their programs.

      1. JulieH413*

        They ask for individual donations on their website as well. According to their financial disclosures, the majority of their income comes from “Individuals, Businesses, and Others.” They also solicit donations for clothes, food, toiletries, etc.

        Their website makes it clear that their work is based in faith. It was NOT clear that they define faith in this way. Their statement of faith is just that they believe in xyz in the Bible, which is strange to make applicants agree to. I think most people would exclude themselves if they did not believe this. The employee code of conduct is very gross to include this definition of purity.

        1. Observer*

          the majority of their income comes from “Individuals, Businesses, and Others.” They also solicit donations for clothes, food, toiletries, etc.

          If they get ANY money from government agencies, this is totally off the table. Also, if they are tax exempt under the 501(c)3 rules, this is almost certainly a major problem and I’m pretty sure they could lose their status over this.

    5. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

      LGBTQ+ youth are SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to be homeless than their heterosexual counterparts.

      I used to work in homelessness services in a nonprofit run by a nun. We had specific LGBTQ+ housing and specific outreach to those groups. It’s not a requirement to be homophobic to be a Christian (a Catholic nun!!!) running a nonprofit.

      How horrific.

      1. JulieH413*

        Exactly my concern. When I first read the sexual purity clause of the code of conduct, I was annoyed, especially given my experience as a woman who grew up in Christianity. When I saw the homophobia and transphobia, I was livid. Would they turn someone away for their identity? How does invalidating LGBTQ+ unhoused people support them, especially when they’re already so vulnerable? I truly don’t see how asking employees to agree to this definition of “purity” contributes to the greater good.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I had the same reaction to both when I read your letter.

          My metro area has a charity org that works with the unhoused people, is faith-based, that I have in the past donated to. Now I feel that I need to double-check them before donating again. Orgs like the ones you wrote in about cast a shadow on all faith-based orgs, and that to me is extremely problematic.

        2. to varying degrees*

          If it’s the one that been mentioned, I don’t think they do turn them away, at least not the ones in the places I have lived, but perhaps that’s dependent upon the pastors in charge of the area.

        3. Some Dude*

          Yeah, it’s worrying that an org working with an incredibly marginalized and vulnerable population would want to pile on their very conservative and frankly backwards social views into that service. I’d be really curious to hear from unhoused or formerly unhoused folks about their experiences with some of these service orgs.

    6. random person*

      Food, temporary housing, and job training programs for the homeless, huh?

      And what if the homeless person is LGBTQ? Or an unwed mother? Or has a partner but isn’t married? Do they just deny that person services? Or do they still provide the services, while silently judging the person?


      So glad you found out in time to give this place a hard pass.

      1. lilsheba*

        like a certain organization *initials SA* denies help to anyone who is not straight or christian. Think red buckets for donations.

        1. Eff Your "Salvation"*

          Yeah, as soon as LW went into more detail about the “charity,” my mind went immediately to SA.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I will never, ever donate to that organisation because they discriminate so badly. Ugh.

          1. Avery*

            Not actually true, though it may depend on your definition of “deny help”. But I’d say not allowing trans women in women’s shelters when the alternative is being out on the street counts.
            They may theoretically be referred to men-only shelters, but a) I don’t think there are as many of those as women-only shelters, and b) they’d presumably refuse because they aren’t men, and because that’s practically asking for harassment to boot.

      2. MPerera*

        Jesus checked the gender, orientation and sexual purity status of every person he fed, healed or raised from the dead, didn’t he?

        /s, just in case

    7. TPS Reporter*

      It’s sad to think that a place that does such important work is limiting their applicant pool. I support you saying something so they know why they’re not getting candidates.

    8. Precious Wentletrap*

      “they have sent me three emails asking me to finish it ”

      Did you have to decline all three before cock crow?

    9. Observer*

      I was applying for a digital communications position at a nonprofit that serves homeless people. As I mentioned in my email, I was aware that their services were motivated by faith, but they essentially provide food, temporary housing, and job training programs.

      I’m betting that what they are doing is illegal if they have more that 15 employees.

      It’s true that a communications position could have higher standards of private behavior than other positions, but this is not a religious organization, so they can’t require a certain religious standard of behavior or one that is explicitly based on religion. Nor one that is legally discriminatory.

    10. TheraputicSarcasm*

      Sounds like a sane nonprofit will get a gem when they hire you! Here’s hoping you find a fantastic position with an organization that appreciates you, and soon.

    11. Not Again*

      Does this org accept donations? If so, it is important for potential donors to know about these intrusive, exclusionary practices. Is there a reason you feel a need to protect them? They need to be put on blast, this is so offensive. I would not want to support such a place.

      1. JulieH413*

        This is a good point, and it is something I felt conflicted about. I think it would be best to keep that particular drama out of Alison’s blog because I was genuinely curious as to what I can expect as an employee in the nonprofit field (which is why my question was about the legality of this, not just to point out how it turned me away). I like the suggestion in the reply below yours about leaving a Glassdoor review so that other applicants aren’t caught off guard like I was.

    12. nnn*

      Might be worth leaving a Glassdoor review, to save time for other applicants who also did not get that vibe when they’re doing their research

    13. Candace*

      I am curious – reading the letter, I immediately thought of an organization I interned for in college (and no longer support). We had to sign something very similar to this. Is there any chance this org is located in Kansas City MO?

      1. JulieH413*

        No, and I have not seen the org mentioned in any of the comments. Seems like a huge problem that so many people have encountered many different employers who overstep in this way.

  24. Anon for This*

    I’m an ace woman and happily single and this creeps me out- are they going to try to push me to get married so I appear to fit in? Are they going to refuse to promote me because a married man “needs” the promotion more than I do? Also, how exactly do they plan to police this? Are they going to have branches of the Junior Anti-Sex League running around?

    Just NOPE.

    1. Ariaflame*

      Heck, I’m an Ace woman (well demi) and I’d probably not be pure enough for them. But that wouldn’t matter because I would run for the hills before working there.

    2. urguncle*

      In all seriousness, it would depend on how much people around you like you. If you’re quiet and defer to authority, you’ll probably be fine. It’s when they suspect that your singleness is hiding something, or you’re single AND you question authority or stand up for someone.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Another ace woman and happily single but would also be creeped out by this both simply on principle and also because…I can see this having implications for everybody, particularly those who are female (or female presenting or LGBT+). For example, the married male head of my department occasionally drives me home after work. I could see something like that being an issue for them. And I could definitely see “you’re not married so clearly you have no responsibilities and can do all the overtime.”

      1. Anon For This*

        Yes, my married male coworker has also driven me home on a couple of occasions (horrible storm going on for at least half an hour and lightning was active, waiting for the bus was not a safe option and he offered for my wellbeing) and would this make him worry about getting in trouble if he wasn’t popular with management? Are they going to break out some Mike Pence rules?

  25. Xaraja*

    I once looked at an application for an AV tech at a liberal arts university that was associated with a major US denomination. It was NOT a seminary, it was an accredited liberal arts university that had a good reputation (although they did require students to attend church and chapel services on campus). The application asked you to promise that you were a “born-again” Christian (evangelical language), “filled with the Holy Spirit” (more evangelical language, this time referring to a hotly debated topic between different denominations) who “speaks in tongues” (part of the same argument) and that you didn’t drink alcohol. At the time I was still religious and I could answer the first few questions yes, but I wasn’t a teetotaler and thought that was ridiculous. I was also quite sure I didn’t want to work for a place that would ask such questions on the application even if they were illegal or unenforceable! I was a little disappointed because the actual work sounded really interesting and I hadn’t found any similar jobs in my area. I later ran into an acquaintance who told me he’d gotten this cool job, and it was that job! I asked him about those questions and he just shrugged and said, “oh I just lied.”

    1. Indubitably Delicious*

      I opted out of jobs with a similar “faith requirement” at a similar small college/university about 15 years ago, although I was otherwise qualified and needed the job. I was in an unmarried cohabitating relationship at the time, am an areligious agnostic, and it didn’t seem like a good match for job security. I now think the whole thing is skeezy, but at the time it was more like “nope, definitely don’t meet those qualifications.”

    2. lilsheba*

      Ugh I can’t lie and be a hypocrite in that kind of situation. I am who I am and if they don’t like it then that’s their loss.

    3. TheraputicSarcasm*

      A recruiter contacted my husband for an otherwise perfect software developer position for a company that required a statement of faith. When hubby pushed back on that, the recruiter told him to just lie, no one was going to check. He declined the position. And had other recruiters contacting him trying to fill it for months afterwards. I wonder why?

    4. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      It was probably only a really cool job for that guy BECAUSE he’s a dude, and dudes generally get held to a different standard of “purity” where they don’t have to be as “pure” as AFAB’s. If you’re AFAB and you’d gotten that job instead of him, it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome a time for you!

  26. What is a religious org?*

    I have been wondering how this federal law applies to Tribal governments. I work for a US-based tribe in education and we were recently required to agree that we believe in a god/creator and in the existence of good and evil spirits, which is inclusive of Christianity and tribal religion(s) and covers the beliefs of basically everyone except me. We haven’t had to sign anything yet but it was in a presentation.

    1. urguncle*

      Tribal governments are sovereign and not subjected to Title VII of the Civil Rights act, which governs employment discrimination.

      1. What is a religious org?*

        Oh, huh, thank you. They seem subject to federal law in many things, but not state or local law so i find how tribal sovereignty applies in different cases difficult to understand

      1. What is a religious org?*

        They want to include spirituality as a part of education and child care services, which i am cool with, but it is not part of my personal beliefs.

  27. I am just here for the free pizza*

    Watch the current arc on Young Sheldon, where Mary has lost her job at the church because her son got a girl pregnant. This show happens during the 60’s, but it looks like we have not progressed much since then.

      1. I am just here for the free pizza*

        I guess I thought it was from an older time. Thanks for the correction.

    1. Executive Whimsy*

      Even worse, Young Sheldon takes place starting in 1989, and it’s 1992 in the current season.

      1. Summer*

        Regardless of when it takes place, it really does stand that while the country has progressed in some ways, in other ways we are boomeranging back around to being as or more regressive than the 1950s. Hell, people are banning and burning books!

        1. DJ Abbott*

          It’s not a coincidence. Some churches and politicians are *trying* to drag us back there so they can have their way in everything again.
          Some areas are more inclined to this than others.

  28. Andrea*

    I’ve seen a lot of people commenting on Ephesians 5:3a, but no comments on Psalm 139:13, so I’ll do it: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (“You” meaning God.)

    It’s funny because this organization is using it as proof that the gender you’re assigned at birth is always correct, and that there are only two of them, when all this verse says is “wow God you made me that’s amazing.”

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      That’s a solid point! I noticed the reference in the letter and thought it was an odd choice. The rest of that Psalm is about how well/intimately god knows god’s people, which makes this another interesting example of trying to pull a verse out of its original context and make it mean something it doesn’t. In this case, it’s not even a great attempt, because as you say, all the verse says is “god made me,” it doesn’t say anything at all about god’s opinion about sex and gender.

    2. Kaye*

      In fact, it’s a psalm that I’ve noticed a lot of trans Christians using to affirm who they are: ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’!

  29. Miller_Admin*

    I wonder how they plan to test that one??

    Sick, Weird, excuse for being intrusive?

    Run for the heels.

    1. Miller_Admin*

      oops. Run for the hills.

      I’m wondering if by sharing that they are hoping to open the door for being overly intrusive in their employees’ lives. Something someone says “I’m just blunt” as a way to excuse rudness.

    2. urguncle*

      They don’t plan on “testing” it. Frankly, stuff like this is a way to get around having to document firings for people that they personally find to be annoying. As many posters have pointed out, it’s mostly targeted towards women and other minorities. If they don’t like you, maybe your shirt is too tight one day, or someone *says* they saw you flirting with a married man. It might even be a way to enforce things like long hair and a strictly gendered dress code, like not allowing women to wear pants at work or in public. The point is vagueness so they can decide if and when to enforce it.

  30. Flower Power*

    So fun! I temped for a religious radio personality’s company (that has been in the news for mishandling similar situations, funnily enough). They wanted to hire me full-time, but at the last second let me know there was a “values mismatch” after they found out I was living with my boyfriend before marriage. I was in my early 20s at the time and can still remember how mortified I was that the 60-something male head of HR was basically telling me they were letting me go for harlotry.

    1. bunniferous*

      ….perhaps that company dealt with financial issues?

      Years ago my daughter got pregnant out of wedlock. We attended a church where premarital sex was disapproved of. The pastor just got up on a Sunday morning (this was a LARGE congregation) and took five minutes before he preached his sermon to give a very strong criticism of ….GOSSIPING. I knew exactly what he was talking about although he was very careful not to bring any names into it. And everyone from leaders on down were kind and nonjudgemental. If my freaking CHURCH could get it right, not just with our family but with others who dealt with similar, that company had no excuse.

      1. Flower Power*

        You nailed it. I probably should have known what I was getting into, but I was young and needed a job (and was not even at odds with the dominant religion! I just was clearly not as devout as one needed to be.)

        I’m so glad your pastor got the situation under control! That’s the mark of a good church.

  31. DrSalty*

    My sister works at a Catholic grade school and their purity policy does include sex before marriage (ie, living with a boyfriend/girlfriend). She says in practice it operates as a don’t ask don’t tell policy.

  32. Marie*

    I briefly attended a college where all students, faculty, and staff had to sign a statement similar to this. It covered all sex outside of marriage as well as other things like drinking and drugs, even if we were of drinking age, and even if the action (e.g. drinking) took place at home/during school breaks/etc. I assumed it was “policed” by whether you were obviously caught with something or if you’d posted something on social media. I didn’t know anyone who ever got in trouble for a violation, while I did know of TONS of people who came out as LGBT. Some of these types of schools were known for being particularly strict, while this one was not.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      I attended a similar college and had to sign a statement of faith. I was put on disciplinary probation my last year because my over-achieving housemate found zima in my mini fridge during summer break and I had smoked a cigarette on a date. Also the same place made a student stand in front of everyone at chapel and apologize to the school during my freshman or sophomore year because he was seen going to a Marilyn Manson concert. *sigh*

  33. lilsheba*

    This is a big fat nope. It is NONE of their business what any of your sexual activity is. NONE. And I sure won’t be signing any declaration of faith. RUN RUN RUN.

  34. Yes And*

    “…that exception applies only to organizations whose “purpose and character are primarily religious.” (So a church, yes. A bank run by a guy who happens to be highly religious himself, no.)”

    Give it time. The Supreme Court just hasn’t gotten around to that yet.

  35. RC Rascal*

    If anyone remembers the Chris Coleman murder case :

    Coleman was employed in security for Joyce Meyer Ministries. He job paid more than $100k annually. Meyer did not allow her employees to be divorced and he wanted to marry his mistress. So he murdered his wife and two young sons. Divorcing his wife would have meant losing his job and he chose murder instead.

    1. Observer*

      What is the relevance here? Do you really think that if the employer allowed divorce all would be well? Especially given that he killed his KIDS, too.

      Far more likely is that he wanted to marry the mistress but she didn’t want him to be “entangled” with any “prior commitments”.

      Which is to say that pointing fingers at ANYONE other than this monster is ridiculous. Committing murder is BAD (outside of self-defense.) Hanging on to a job or affair partner is a jaw droppingly bad. Murdering you wife and kids?!?! Sorry, the employer is not the issue here!

      1. urguncle*

        IIRC it’s relevant because he communicated to the mistress that he couldn’t get a divorce because of his work and then lo and behold, his wife and kids are murdered! It was a pretty straight line from “man, this family is really holding me down” to “I have a brilliant idea.”

        1. Observer*

          His excuse for killing his wife was that he “needed” to keep his job and (somehow) this was the only way he could do so. I get that part.

          That doesn’t explain why he killed his kids.

          And to the point of my question, it doesn’t explain why this murder is relevant to this letter.

      2. Another ADDer*

        The employer may not be the main issue, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a contributing factor.

        1. Observer*

          No, the employer is not a contributing factor. Even if you REALLY think that holding on to a job is actually a real reason why people kill, it’s not even a possible reason to have killed his kids.

          If you REALLY want to find “contributing” factors, I would bet that his mistress was a factor. And even that requires some squinting and mental calisthenics. Because who murders their kids to keep their mistress?!?

          1. DJ Abbott*

            There have been other similar cases. I recall seeing a TV movie about a pastor in Emporia Kansas who wanted to marry his secretary. Divorce was against his religion so he murdered his wife.
            Seems like I heard of one or two others too.

  36. Danish*

    Love how they wove being non-het and non-cis into a “sexual purity” statement. I know conservatives have a really hard time understanding that being gay or trans doeant mean you’re having hardcore kinky sex in the grocery store 24/7 but way to really show your ignorance and bigotry on your sleeve

    1. ThatGirl*

      Well, there’s two parts to it:

      a) being queer or trans IS seen as being inherently sexual (and doing so outside of their own outdated gender and sexuality norms)
      b) it’s hypothetically possible for someone to be gay and not “act” on it (eg don’t be a normal person who wants to date or have relationships) so they can say they’re “hating the sin, not the sinner”

      … I vehemently disagree with all of this of course.

    2. Tau*

      I’m ace, kinda sorta lesbian-ish (lesbian-adjacent? quasi-lesbian? look it’s complicated) and would be very tempted to ask whether I could get married to a woman if I solemnly promised never to have sex with her.

      I mean, I wouldn’t because there’s no way that would end well, but the conflation of het marriage with sexual purity just begs the question.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I was honestly thinking at first this was about that company until I noticed it said non profit in the letter. The financial advice he gives works but man some of his other stances are Just No.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        And some of his financial advice is self-serving and doesn’t work. He is working very hard trying to get people to buy houses right now (or a least a couple months ago), with platitudes that were completely disproven during the last housing bubble.

  37. brjeau*

    This letter was already wild, and then reading the “You may also like” titles was like being slapped upside the head three times in a row. (I will be reading them all immediately, obviously)

  38. Tesuji*

    Eh. Honestly, this all sounds kind of shrug-worthy to me.

    It’s a religious non-profit that clearly has very specific views. They only want to hire people who have those specific views. They’re very up-front about those views and their expectations for their employees.

    And… I’m kind of okay with that? I mean, I agree that their specific views are repugnant, but to me, an anti-smoking nonprofit can have rules about tobacco use, an environmental nonprofit can have rules about you recycling, an animal rights nonprofit can have rules about your pets, and so on.

    To me, it feels legitimate that an organization dedicated to some values gets to hire employees who share those values, because that cuts both ways.

    I don’t want to live in a world where, say, a nonprofit dedicated to providing abortion access needs to justify which positions it can refuse to hire pro-life people for.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      But we are not born pro-life or opposed to recycling, addicted to smoking, etc. Whereas in the paragraph that was quoted, they specifically go after every letter in LGBTQ. Those are not views or values that they are opposing, they are opposing people for *who they are* (which seems illegal to me, but this country is moving back in time so fast that I don’t even know if it still is).

      1. Marie*

        It’s more nuanced than that, and they’re going after straight people too. You can’t live with your unmarried partner, whether same sex or opposite sex. You can’t have sex outside of marriage. If you’re a celibate gay person, I don’t know if that’s an issue or not. It’s action-based more than being-based.

        You can certainly opposite it anyway, for sure. There is a distinction that a lot of commenters are missing, though.

        1. moonb*

          Well….LGBTQ people are free to be in a heterosexual marriage, since same-sex marriage would not exist per the statement in the original post. So I think it’s action-based for straight people (and in practice, I agree that women would bear the brunt of “immoral” conduct), but it certainly is an erasure of LGBTQ identity. I remember reading a conservative Christian’s advice to a gay woman that she could live a whole life of celibacy or marry a husband and have children. She could certainly be romantically/sexually attracted to a man if she wanted to, you see.

        2. moonb*

          Definitely agree that it’s very good for prospective employees for this organization to be up front about their values, so that everyone can decide their comfort levels for themselves.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      It’s just not necessary for an organisation to put their noses this far into people’s lives though. Or to be intolerant of other people’s choices. I work for a Catholic school and people who work there live with their unmarried partners, are gay, and use birth control. Obviously so. This has not toppled the church as of yet.

    3. Observer*

      It’s a religious non-profit that clearly has very specific views. They only want to hire people who have those specific views.

      It’s a religious non-profit providing a secular service. That places some *legal* obligations on them.

      Beyond that, the idea that it’s reasonable (even when legal) to only hire people with a particular point of view in any and all positions is repugnant. I get that there are some positions where having a specific point of view is relevant, and some points of view are so widely repudiated or SO at odds with the organization that it makes sense to filter for them. But it’s really, really hard to make the case that either thing applies here.

      I don’t want to live in a world where, say, a nonprofit dedicated to providing abortion access needs to justify which positions it can refuse to hire pro-life people for.

      I fundamentally disagree with you. I really don’t think that, say, the janitor needs to mirror the views on abortion that the company holds. Nor, for that matter, the views on most issues. Same for a lot of back office positions.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Maybe not the janitor, but back-office positions could potentially sabotage the organizations work and goals. This is such a volatile and pervasive issue that I would not trust anyone who didn’t share the beliefs in the position like that.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      No, you don’t have to believe that there’s something wrong with being trans* in order to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit the sick.

      Nor should they be getting public funds to support their bigotry–LGBTQ+ people pay taxes just like the rest of you.

      Yes, if they want to start an organization devoted to spreading those repugnant ideas they can make agreeing a condition of employment. That’s not this organization or this job.

    5. Marie*

      I mentioned this earlier in the comment section, but I briefly attended a college where I had to sign a statement like this. You signed it when you applied…it’s not like you got there and they sprung it on you. And so many people were up in arms about it. This school was neither the cheapest (by far), best ranked (by far), or most well-known (by far) school in the area. The only reason to go there was if you liked the environment and the social views. So…if you don’t, why go?

      It comes down to whether “values” are relevant in the workplace/school. An environmental nonprofit can have rules about your recycling, for example. What about a bank? A pro-choice nonprofit can refuse to hire pro-life people. What about an environmental nonprofit? What about a bookstore, a school, a gas station?

      Broadly, I think opinions/values screening should be left out of the workplace unless the values are directly related to the line of work. When the values are relevant, I’m inclined to be okay with it, as you are. A pro-life person applying for a pro-choice nonprofit feels subversive, and vice versa.

  39. Abigail*

    I think it’s entirely possible this is legal and the only advice to the LW is to not apply and move on with their life.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        LW is applying to a non-profit affiliated with a religious organization. I’m betting it’s legal.

        1. Observer*


          There is no exemption for a non-profit. Nor is there an exemption for organizations *affiliated* with a religious organization. The exemption is only for an organization whose purpose is religious (eg a Church or school for religious education.)

          The letter does not indicate that the organization they applied to (as opposed to the one they currently work for) is affiliated with a Church, and their comments later seem to indicate that it’s actually not affiliated.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        Depends on the organization. Can be completely legal. Reasonable? No. Likely to eventually lead to a lawsuit? Oh heck, yes. Legal? Probably.

  40. Nom*

    There is an organization in my non-profit industry with a similar pledge (I don’t think it is the same one), and I certainly would never apply there because of it. I had no idea that it was illegal though – very interesting!

  41. Luna*

    “My sexlife is only business to myself, the partner I have chosen to consentingly share it with, and my gynocologist/urologist for medical purposes. You are neither of them, you don’t get a single say about it.”

  42. CommanderBanana*

    I would be willing to bet you a crispy $20 bill that the executive director, CEO, or other highly placed leader at this org is having at least one inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

  43. MillenialHR*

    My mom works for a church and the overstepping by some religious organizations is…wow. She would’ve lost her job even if her children were living with their S.O.’s and not married, or if any of them came out, etc. I had no idea she had to sign this agreement until my brother moved in with his girlfriend (and now, wife)! She had to hide an entire side of her life and be careful not to slip because of the choices her kids made…it was overstepping at its finest! Churches never seem to surprise anyone when they want way more information than appropriate for an employee to have.

    No worries, I’ve encouraged her a million times over to leave the job. It pays well, but for that kind of aggravation, she knows it’s not worth it.

  44. Anne Wentworth*

    Reminds me of Christian universities I didn’t apply to when I was a librarian because you had to agree to some kind of statement of faith that, as a non-Christian, I did not believe in. I always thought that qualify as religious discrimination but assumed I would need to apply and prove I was rejected for being a Jew in order to do anything about it.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      If the organization is religious in nature (ie: a Catholic institution) they can chose to hire based on religious criteria, as Alison said in her answer. Totally legal.

  45. Lucy P*

    A few years ago, the company was shopping for innovative ideas for health insurance. The group policy we had had become unaffordable for the both the company and the employees.
    I came across medical sharing companies. Most of them were Christian organizations.

    Many had rules that all members had to follow: no tobacco or illegal drug use and no sexual relations outside of Christian marriage. Each person that enrolled would have to agree to those rules. Asking employees to agree to such rules seemed like too big of a legal nightmare.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      I never heard of those before. My brief googling does not make me want to learn more, honestly. They don’t sound viable for an awful lot of people, especially those with chronic health issues.

    2. TheraputicSarcasm*

      There was a John Oliver episode a while back about those “medical sharing” companies. It’s basically a GoFundMe circle that can decide you’re not worthy of being ‘blessed’ with coverage if you’re sinful. Whether your medical need has anything to do with your ‘sin’ is irrelevant.

    3. Luna*

      Never, ever, ever mix religion with health insurance/health practices. It usually leads to the former meaning you ‘can’t’ perform an important health practice or medical procedure because it goes against said religion.
      It is such a bad idea…

  46. Pastor’s Wife*

    As the wife of a pastor of a traditional Christian church, I have a couple of things to add. First, it’s not unreasonable to allow a church or any nonprofit to hire people whose beliefs align with the stated beliefs and goals of the organization. As Allison pointed out, this does not apply to a Christian businessman who says he only wants to hire Christians for his bank or grocery store. As an example of why this is important, the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest Christian denominations, is currently embroiled in a huge scandal due to inappropriate and even criminal sexual behavior by many of its leaders. These leaders have brought disgrace to the churches they were appointed to represent. “Sexual purity,” as described in the Bible verses quoted in the letter, is a key tenet of Christian theology in many church traditions, and it shouldn’t be surprising that churches or para-church organizations would expect pastors and other key staff to adhere to this belief. Secondly, I am surprised that Allison has allowed the commentariat to pile on against the religious beliefs quoted in the letter. The Bible is a sacred book to Christians, even to those who interpret it differently. Some commenters here need to consider how to disagree with respect rather than contempt for those who are trying to faithfully live out their religious beliefs.

    1. Parakeet*

      I don’t respect queerphobia and transphobia, and the pledge as quoted by the LW is both.

      There’s no indication that the LW was applying to represent a church.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yeah, “you’ve got to hide it really well that you’re having sex with your SO”, I could live with. But the queerphobia and transphobia is over the line to me. I’m all for living out religious beliefs, unless it involves denying employment to protected categories, as well as hurting the very people this org claims to serve.

    2. Bob-White of the Glen*

      The majority’s feeling about religious institutions and their overreaching results in hurt feelings by people entwined with those institutions.

      The targets of those religious institutions and their messaging (that certain people are beneath them, especially those who ID with certain initials) face unemployment, brutality, and death from this continual messaging.

      Above are all sorts of examples of how others were hurt by these policies. We are allowed to chafe against ones that are so overreaching.

    3. Observer*

      As an example of why this is important, the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest Christian denominations, is currently embroiled in a huge scandal due to inappropriate and even criminal sexual behavior by many of its leaders. These leaders have brought disgrace to the churches they were appointed to represent.

      And? The Convention fell down on the job – they didn’t need anyone to sign “sexual purity” pledges to stop this behavior. All they needed to do was to follow the law, as some of the laws that were broken do NOT have any exemptions for religious activity.

      Also, there is a HUGE and fundamental difference between regulating what people do as part of their roles (which is the issue with the Convention) and what people do in their own lives!

      “Sexual purity,” as described in the Bible verses quoted in the letter, is a key tenet of Christian theology in many church traditions, and it shouldn’t be surprising that churches or para-church organizations would expect pastors and other key staff to adhere to this belief.

      Except that the organization is NOT a church organization. And what is a “para church” organization?

      1. Pastor’s Wife*

        That is accurate regarding examples of criminal behavior, but it’s reasonable to expect people in Christian ministry to make a commitment to conduct themselves in accordance with the tenets of the faith they are supposed to be promoting—even if it’s not a matter of legality (such as not having an extramarital affair with another consenting adult).

        Thank you — I did not see the comment clarifying the nature of the employer in the letter.

        A para-church organization is a Christian ministry that is not a church, but works along side churches to advance a religious purpose. For example, Wycliffe Bible Translators is not a church, but exists to translate the Bible into different languages.

        1. Caroline+Bowman*

          But are they extending the possibility of help and support to vulnerable people of no specified religious belief though?

          No? Then the sexual purity (lol!!) of the accounts admin team is… not something that annnnyyooone should be interested in. Want a solid code of conduct such as ”DUI = termination” and even a para around ”we expect our staff to uphold high standards of conduct and to lead by example. Public drunkenness, lewd behaviour will not be tolerated” would be a stretch but okay.

          This… is not that.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Exactly this. I was brought up in the SBC. The security theater of sexual purity pledges for employees and volunteers did exactly zero to protect my friends from the kind of harm that is currently under investigation. I’ve seen the list of known offenders who held leadership positions. I know some of them signed these pledges and weren’t held accountable for their actions after the fact.

        And I’m going to go one step further and say that the verses OP told us this pledge references don’t actually describe the sexual ethic the pledge wants to impose on employees. There are comments throughout this thread refuting that, or pointing out that there are other equally important moral concerns mentioned in those passages that are being ignored in favor of imposing the organization’s preferred definition of sexual purity.

        @Pastor’s Wife, I’m still a Christian, just not an evangelical one anymore. But I still bear the scars that purity culture placed on my psyche. Those will be with me forever. These purity pledges are useless for the people who intend to violate them anyway, and extremely harmful for those of us who try our hardest to live up to them and can’t. If you haven’t read Emily Joy Allison’s #ChurchToo, I’d recommend that you do that. She does an incredible job of explaining the long term effects of this.

        1. Pastor’s Wife*

          Librarian of SHIELD, I have a lot of concerns about “Purity Culture” and the ways traditional theology is twisted to foster an environment of abuse and sin. I know and love many people who have been harmed by this, and I strongly believe that as Christians we should stand up for what is right and hold the violators to account. I’m sorry that you’ve experienced this. If you are not familiar with the site, I highly recommend it. I’ll look forward to checking out Allison’s work that you mentioned.

    4. Jackalope*

      I wanted to jump in for a moment because a part of your comment showcases one of the huge problems with the ideas many churches have about “sexual purity” (and I say this all as a Christian). Many churches and religious organizations consider anyone involved in any sort of sexual activity, *including victims of SA and r*pe*, to be sinning in this area. Which is not in any way either true or biblically accurate. Saying that the SBC is wrong for covering over pastors and other church staff who engaged in abuse, SA, etc. has nothing to do with responding to people who are engaged in consenting activities. That’s not a small point It’s one of the key explanations for why so many churches and denominations are dealing with this sort of scandal right now; they frame it as sin on both sides and ignore the perpetrator/victim dynamic.

      And people aren’t being disrespectful of the biblical texts; they are – for the most part anyway – pointing out that the organization involved is proof texting (for those not familiar with this term, it’s taking a passage or sentence out of context and using it in a way it’s not meant to be used). The Bible says NOTHING about trans people, very little about other members of the queer community, and they are misusing it with the passages they quote. That is something that is reasonable to point out.

      1. 1LFTW*

        Yes, all of this.

        The problem with the SBC leadership was not that lack of “sexual purity”, it was abuse of power. Certain church leaders weaponized the trust that was placed in them, and used it to sexually victimize church members. If anything, “purity culture” – which collapses all sexual activity, consensual or not, into “sin” – enables perpetrators by blaming and silencing victims.

        As for “respect”, it’s perfectly respectful for the commentariat to provide context for the quote-mined bible verse (the author who quote-mined it, not so much). It’s also perfectly respectful for the commentariat to share their own experience with purity pledges, to note that they tend to be applied hypocritically, and to question the need for them at all: organizations that are explicitly religious need to have adherents of that religion in leadership positions, sure, but service orgs like the one OP applied to? Not so much.

      2. Pastor’s Wife*

        You are absolutely right that some churches treat victims as if they are the ones at fault, and that is wrong and also in conflict with the teaching of the Bible.

        I know what proof-texting is, and clearly the statement that the organization is asking people to sign in merely a statement of belief and not a full theological analysis. Obviously, people also interpret the Bible differently, and we are free to disagree with the interpretation or reject religious beliefs entirely.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I frankly doubt that someone who rapes or otherwise abuses parishioners, despite having been taught enough about Christianity to be working as a pastor, will be stopped by that sort of
      “purity” rule. Yes, there may be ministers who would be stopped by the risk of losing their job, but not by either the risk of going to prison nor the knowledge that what they’re considering is wrong. What seems unlikely is that they would believe their jobs were safe because they hadn’t specifically promised not to commit those crimes or sins.

      “Accused adulterer” is not a protected class, and there’s a pretty good argument that “not be caught violating the Ten Commandments” is a bona fide occupational requirement for a Christian minister.

    6. Avery*

      Transphobia and queerphobia wrapped in bad religious “justifications” are the reason I’ve had to seriously consider whether this country (and yes, I’m talking about the US) will get to a point where I will have to become a refugee rather than continue to keep living as an openly queer and nonbinary individual. So yes, it’s a belief system I have some contempt for. Hate the belief, not the believer, right?

    7. CharlieBrown*

      Secondly, I am surprised that Allison has allowed the commentariat to pile on against the religious beliefs quoted in the letter. The Bible is a sacred book to Christians, even to those who interpret it differently.

      But it’s not a sacred book to everybody. It’s certainly not to me. I see it for what it is–a collection of historical documents that have been translated, mis-translated, interpreted, mis-interpreted, and twisted and cherry-picked over the centuries to justify discrimination, murder, torture, and war (and much more). Would you object just as strenuously to people who have negative views other sacred texts, such as the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita? I wonder…

      Even so, free speech is a thing.

      Still, as a pastor’s wife, you must be familiar with the verses such as these:

      “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:11-15). Yet you are not remaining quiet here.

      1. Pastor’s Wife*

        Interesting that you are twisting the scripture you say you don’t believe in to try to silence me.

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          Interesting that YOU are using your religion in any capacity to try to silence people here. You’re essentially calling someone else a hypocrite, but you need to go look in your own mirror.


          Someone who grew up in your faith and has only known peace and joy from leaving it

    8. DJ Abbott*

      It is really amazing the number of church officials who have not been able to live by these rules. It seems like every year there’s another scandal in another church or religious organization where the same leaders who are taking a punitive attitude about these unrealistic ideas get caught breaking these same rules.
      Whether I respect that the Bible is a sacred text to you depends on whether you’re using it to hurt, abuse, and discriminate against everyone except hetero white men, as so many are now. Those who are doing that do not deserve respect.

      1. Caroline+Bowman*

        Anyone – and I do mean anyone – who takes a cobbled-together text, written thousands of years ago by nomadic herdsman to explain the world and their place in it – as a stick to beat everyone else (with many exceptions for themselves, almost without exception!) with, who thinks that because they have decided that burning bushes and virgin births and such are things to base our lives on (again, unless inconvenient or ”out of context” – guess who decides what’s out of context or not?), by force or extreme coercion if necessary, is a nope kind of person. There are no exceptions to this.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      You raise a couple of interesting points. The first is that you mention criminal and non consensual sexual activity. I don’t think any type of organisation would have a problem upholding the law and from protecting others from harm. You also mention “leaders”, “pastors” and other “key staff”; it’s again fairly unremarkable to put a high burden of following a religion’s particular lifestyle choices on people where practice of the religion is key to their role. I doubt the OP was applying as a pastor. For example in my organisation it’s expected that a priest would be celibate but that doesn’t extend to me, a teacher. Honestly, my organisation has their hands too full with starving and homeless families to care much on this score. When it comes to sexual purity issues, they are more concerned with the idle judging of others making Christians in general look bad, and it preventing unmarried parents and young gay people accessing our help. I also think the choices of people of faith should be respected. But the most disrespectful words I’ve seen on this page are those which identify one’s group as being the “pure” ones; it’s a pretty horrible idea which definitely puts a heavier burden on women, trans and gay people than it does on straight men. It’s not respectful (or humane) to describe people as impure.

      1. Jackalope*

        I agree with the latter half of what you wrote, but the first part isn’t true. One of the reasons for the many current church scandals (most known among the Catholic and Baptist churches) is that the church did *not* uphold the law and protect others from harm. For anyone who hasn’t been following the news on this, they routinely ignored and/or blamed victims and when hard-pressed to defend the leaders who were being abusive, shuffled them off to another unsuspecting church instead of turning them in to the police or at the very least defrocking them. There are many reasons for this, but a sexual purity test like this is a red flag that the organization involved is more prone to the kind of behavior that leads to sex scandals. They have very rigid views of appropriate sexual behavior which are wielded like a weapon against women, girls, and queer people, especially when they are people of color, and also allow (white) cis het men to behave with impunity. Victims are dismissed as “you obviously tempted him, and so it’s as much your fault as his. No, it’s actually ALL your fault that he assaulted you”.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I actually wasn’t talking about churches at all when I said that, but more robust organisations. Furthermore professional organizations who are dedicated to preventing harm of the vulnerable don’t mess about with pledges at all. They do proper checks and investigations and use training and use rigorous reporting procedures to spot problems before they start.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I have not been up to date on this specific scandal, but it seems to me that, if someone needs a written code of conduct, that they are required to sign upon employment, to know that they cannot COMMIT LITERAL CRIMES – i.e engage in “inappropriate and even criminal sexual behavior” – then maybe they are not fit to be a church leader, and maybe the problem lies there and not in the absence of a piece of paper for them to sign when they took the job. But what do I know, I was only a practicing Christian for 20 years (early 20s through early 40s) and was only evangelical for the first couple years of that.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          (my comment makes it kind of unclear, but yes I’m agreeing with you. to blame their actions on the fact that there hadn’t been a form for them to sign is ridiculous)

    10. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      Secondly, I am surprised that Allison has allowed the commentariat to pile on against the religious beliefs quoted in the letter. The Bible is a sacred book to Christians, even to those who interpret it differently. Some commenters here need to consider how to disagree with respect rather than contempt for those who are trying to faithfully live out their religious beliefs.

      What a gross remark. Please take a seat and actually listen to people who aren’t you, or else take your pearls and clutch ’em elsewhere. Alison-with-one-L isn’t “allowing” a pile-on. Legitimate criticism of a religious system that has actively and knowingly harmed many marginalized folk is NOT a pile-on. Good to know you care more about your “precious feelings” regarding your faith than you do about others. Your homeboy Jesus would be very disappointed in you, seeing as he loved, honored, and worked with the very people your faith now openly discriminates against.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Exactly. People have actual trauma and have to be in therapy for years after leaving church – this is not about allowing someone to harmlessly “faithfully live out their religious beliefs” – people are being actively hurt.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          More than just hurt – traumatized, damaged for life, in some cases driven to suicide.
          All from being abused and r*ped by religious leaders who were supposed to protect them and keep them safe.

  47. AnotherLibrarian*

    I worked for many years for religious college when I was not a member of the religion in question. It was one of the most wonderful supportive places I have ever worked. They did not require anything like this when I was hired, but did institute a statement of faith policy (which had nothing to do with sexual purity) and I quickly left to find another job. While religious organizations have the right to consider religion in hiring, every one of them that I have ever heard of that required something about sexual behavior has ended up being a toxic and messed up place to work. I have many friends still working in these sorts of places and we all joke about how the more things like this the organization demands people sign, the worse the place will be to work. So, I think you dodged a real bullet OP.

  48. bralice*

    I have dealt with something like this when applying for a job within a ministry (which makes sense I guess, but it creeped me out and I didn’t continue applying). Their contract wanted me to agree to not “put myself in a situation where I might feel lust” and like sorry to break it to you, ministry, that’s not possible lol. Was I supposed to exist in a dark room forever? Such an overstep.

  49. Emma*

    It’s been many years, but a friend was once fired from a faith-based organization (not a church, iirc) because it was discovered that she was living with her fiancé before marriage. This happened one week before her wedding. (Insert facepalm emoji here)

  50. Summer*

    I hate this so very much. I’m an atheist so I wouldn’t even apply to a place like this, but just the fact that they put this out there as a requirement for employment pisses me off.

  51. I would prefer not to*

    How do they know if their employees are having anal sex or sleeping with people they just met on the weekend or having threesomes or whatever they think sexual immorality is?

    Are they peering through your windows every night?

    Watching to see if you come into work looking satisfied and flushed?

    Sounds like a breeding ground for wild, probably sexist and homophobic gossip.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      They don’t really care, and they wouldn’t want you to be peeking in their windows either, because they definitely aren’t following their own rules. I do know Christians who follow pretty stringent rules for their own choices and for the practice of their beliefs, but that kind of person is pretty uninterested in policing your choices (and identity) to this extent. This kind of overstepping and nose poking is about creating a very particular kind of culture where you’re either a straight man, or willing to belong to one. It also makes it very, very easy to sexually harass people because the cultural capital of being “pure” works against victims and puts them in the same box as perpetrators. It’s why Warren Jeff urged female followers to “keep sweet”. I’m not saying every organisation who follows this pattern is abusive (sometimes things just get repeated on the surface), but we all know the true purpose of slut shaming.

  52. Youth Librarian*

    “And what do they mean by “even a hint of sexual immorality” — are we talking about low-cut blouses? A racy joke? A lingering glance? A rumor about you started by the jerk down the hall?”
    From my personal experience, all of the above, if you are a woman.

    1. 1LFTW*

      Wearing too much make-up (harlot!), not wearing enough make-up (butch!)… this is so obviously about the org wanting to be able to manufacture an excuse to fire any female-coded or queer-coded person at any time.

  53. Dorothea Vincy*

    I once worked for a religious college that was so strict they fired a professor for staying at her fiancé’s house overnight. It didn’t matter that they were engaged and it was a one-man, one-woman relationship; they weren’t MARRIED, so it was “a sin.”

    Of course, when the college president was caught cheating on his wife and his son got arrested for domestic violence, all that mattered was “Well, Jesus will forgive them.” It quickly morphed into, “The wife/girlfriend must have provoked him.”

    There’s a reason I didn’t work there for long.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This reminds me of how a friend once told me about why they’d left religion as a teen. In their church, a man and a woman, both married to other people, were caught having an affair with each other. The woman was excommunicated (or whatever the equivalent was for their church) and basically expelled from the church. The man remained a member in good standing, no issues. That made such an impression on my friend that they left both the church, and the religious faith altogether.

      I’ve heard a variation of “must’ve provoked him” from a childhood friend, who in his 20s went on to become a evangelical pastor. My marriage was going through an especially rough patch, and his advice to me was to forget about what I thought my husband was doing wrong, and concentrate on my own shortcomings as a wife instead. That was the last time I asked that man for advice.

  54. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

    Dave Ramsey does this at his org, and has fired women for getting pregnant outside of marriage.

  55. Roja*

    As someone who’s worked at evangelical organizations, this seems a pretty standard code of ethics/theology statement. If they’re the type of organization to have this statement, you are definitely not going to be happy there if you’re not theologically aligned. It tends to rule out a fair few Christians as well (there’s a reason I no longer work for such orgs; I couldn’t sign those statements with a clear conscience). It gets a lot stricter than this too… I’m still salty over some of the stuff my husband’s former job required him to do.

    I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, but since this isn’t a theology debate I’ll restrain myself. But anyways, they’re doing it because they expect employees to genuinely align with the mission of the organization–essentially, they’re living representatives of the mission 24/7. And to some extent, it makes sense. If your organization is hosting regular singles events preaching on celibacy, and you’re the employee hosting them but you’re single and not celibate, it’s going to feel pretty hypocritical for the audience.

    Definitely don’t even apply if those beliefs aren’t your thing. You’ll be very, very unhappy there (assuming you don’t get fired).

    1. allathian*

      Promoting celibacy or abstinence before marriage, maybe. But I’ll draw the line at misogyny and homo- and transphobia. It’s gross.

    2. Caroline+Bowman*

      No. Hard no. There’s no reason for the panoply of nutso requirements. Trying to ascertain and enforce decent behavioural standards, such as ”getting a DUI charge will lead to termination” is totally reasonable, but setting out standards for sexual purity is beyond.

      It is an organisation – according to the OP – that aims to serve homeless populations. Clearly a lot of similar orgs are religious-aligned, and that is fair enough. This is not that and it makes me shudder at how they might (might! ha!) be hardcore proselytizing and / or making accessing help contingent upon certain criteria for very vulnerable people.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I’m just trying to imagine what kind of secular job posting would end up counseling people spiritually, or giving out celibacy tips and my imagination is drawing a blank. As in, I can see a clergy position requiring a particular way of life which accords with the followers’ but I can’t see why people would be inquiring about how sexual the admin’s evening is likely to be. Even if you want to make sure the cleaner doesn’t show up one day sporting a bump without a wedding ring, (and you’re sure no one has the tolerance to just not dig into it) exactly who is going to be quizzing them on their opinions or understanding of gender?

  56. nnn*

    For some reason, the thing I find squickiest is that they chose the phrase “sexual purity” rather than, like, “personal morality” or “community standards” or something.

    Thinking back to my religious days, it was normal for authority figures to want to govern externally-perceivable behaviours. (To be clear, they shouldn’t be trying to govern employees’ private lives, but it’s in line with what it was normal for authority figures to want to do.) But “purity” was something that was internal to my soul and therefore between me and God.

    1. Pastor’s Wife*

      Interesting point. The Bible uses the word “pure” in some places, but unfortunately the doctrines of “sexual purity” have been misused to such an extreme that the phrase now has a negative connotation for many of us. However, it is normal “church speak” that would not seem jarring or out of place to most people within the religious tradition of the organization using this term.

  57. Caroline+Bowman*

    ”I have a question about my application, I wonder if HR could help? See where it has a sexual purity requirement, please can someone explain how that connects to my work as credit control team leader / technical administrator? I was really confused by that one, is there a sex work element to the role I wasn’t aware of?”.


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