Professor Loses Job Over Divorce

"In our culture divorce doesn't seem serious because we're so used to seeing it, but when you read scripture, you realize we should be much more shocked. We should stop and realize its seriousness," she said. "To be a Christian community, everything needs be public so we can be accountable to each other. The rule seems to be pretty fair because [Gramm] had the chance explain himself."

Generally, discrimination even at a private college is illegal under federal law, said Michael Gold, a professor of labor law at Cornell University, but there is an exception for religious beliefs.

"Title VII specifically exempts religious institutions, including colleges," Gold said. "Thus, Wheaton was free to enforce its religious beliefs against the professor."

According to the school's Web site: "Wheaton College complies with federal and state requirements for non-discrimination on the basis of handicap, sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin in admission and access to its programs and activities."

The disclaimer does not, however, mention religion.

"To not include 'religion' in that statement was clearly intentional," Gold said.

If the school is free to impose its beliefs on divorced family members where does the law draw the line? Could the school just as easily impose arranged marriages?

It's possible, says Gold.

"I would think so, but it's an informed guess. The prohibition of religious discrimination in the statute [Title VII] doesn't apply to the college. So if the religion requires arranged marriages, the college may insist that faculty and students submit to arranged marriages. One who did not wish to submit would be free to attend or teach at another college."

That, presumably, is what Gramm plans to do.

This story was clarified after its original posting to include an additional comment by the Wheaton College spokeswoman.

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