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Moody Bible Institute Asks Federal Appeals Court to Protect Ministry from Gov't Interference

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A famous, 137-year-old faith-based college and seminary has asked a federal court to protect its ability to train students for Christian leadership free from the government's interference.

Moody Bible Institute is defending its right to train students according to its beliefs after a former faculty member filed a lawsuit alleging "gender discrimination" against female clergy.

In Garrick v. Moody Bible Institute, Janay Garrick is enlisting federal courts to punish Moody for its beliefs about the composition of the clergy.

Garrick began serving in Moody's communications department on December 1, 2014, under an annual contract. Each year she was employed, Garrick was required to sign in affirmation of Moody's doctrinal statement, stating that she fully agreed with and adhered to Moody's doctrines, including the belief that only men could serve in the church office of pastor, according to the lawsuit. 

However, Garrick started advocating for women to be admitted into the Pastoral Ministry program. She also started a group for Moody faculty called "Respect for Women Personally and Ministerially" where she was vocal that not allowing women into the school's pastoral program was discrimination.

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After being confronted about her views and receiving confirmation that she rejected the school's stance, the professor's contract was not renewed. Garrick is suing the school claiming the school's position of only training men to be pastors is a "pretext for gender discrimination."

Becket Law filed an appeal on behalf of the school. Moody is asking the court to keep the federal judiciary from entangling itself in disagreements over who should be clergy, and uphold its ability to train students for Christian leadership according to their beliefs. 

"If the separation of church and state means anything, it means that the federal government can't punish a religious college for its beliefs over who should serve as a pastor, priest, imam, or rabbi," said Daniel Blomberg, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. "Religious groups should be free to make up their own minds on clergy qualifications without judges or juries putting a finger on the scales."

The school states it simply wants to be free to decide matters of faith and doctrine—including the qualifications for those who hold senior church offices.

"For over 130 years, our school has trained and formed faithful Christian women and men who will commit their lives to spreading the gospel and bringing hope, joy, and love to all those in need," said Dr. Mark Jobe, president at Moody Bible Institute. "This mission is rooted in Christ's command to announce the good news to all people, and it has served as the bedrock of Moody since our founding."

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.