University of Phoenix becomes ecumenical, spurns non-Christian faculty

A while back, I wrote about the blossoming partnership between University of Phoenix Online and Lutheran High School of Orange County in an article titled University of Phoenix Expands into Religious Teaching. In that article, I noted that the University had sent out a solicitation message asking for instructors interested in getting involved with an online high school venture from LHSOC.
Today the proverbial other shoe dropped, with an email message sent out by the contact person at the University of Phoenix about the program. The letter starts out reasonably enough:
Thank you for your interest in teaching with Lutheran High School of Orange County. It is greatly appreciated. At this juncture, we would like to provide you with some additional details associated with becoming a faculty member in the delivery of online education to students at Lutheran High School of Orange County.

Please read everything very carefully. Because we received such a large response to our initial email, if you remain interested, you MUST resubmit your resume to address masked . Please include your area of interest in the subject line of your email.
It’s what appears subsequent to this introduction that I found so surprising…

In order to facilitate courses for Orange Lutheran Online (OLO), the following requirements MUST be met:
• You must agree to the attached Statement of Faith.
• You must obtain a letter or recommendation from your pastor, minister, or spiritual advisor.
As you consider becoming involved in the faculty selection process for Orange Lutheran Online (OLO), affirmative responses to the following questions are considered essential:
• Are you a partner in the Gospel that connects with other’s hearts and heads, creates a community of support, can motivate the inner-life of others, and is disciplined in prayer and Biblical study?
• Are you a professional that is focused on raising student achievement, effectively communicating, effectively dealing with grievances, and honoring baseline contract agreements?
• Are you a passionate individual so that you can rekindle and create a vision of excellence, ignite a student’s passion for learning, and bring out the best in others?
Please take the time to read this note and the attached information carefully. Additional details regarding Orange Lutheran Online (OLO) will be forwarded to your attention in the near future. However, if you feel that the items shared above are not what you can commit to within a classroom setting; please let us know so that we may remove your name from our interest list.
Again, we sincerely appreciate your interest in further exploring this new teaching opportunity.

Here’s the Statement of Faith that potential instructors must agree to:
We believe that:
• The Bible is the true Word of God, without error or contradiction and, therefore, is the final authority in all matters of faith and life (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
• There is only one true God, who has revealed Himself in three persons (Triune), Father (Creator), Son (Redeemer), and Holy Spirit (Sanctifier) (Matthew 28:19).
• Since Adam�s Fall, all people are conceived and born sinful and are completely incapable of saving themselves by good living. (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:10-12, 23).
• God, motivated by His unconditional love for us, provided for our salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
• Jesus Christ is true God, eternally begotten of the Father, and at the same time true man, born of the Virgin Mary, who lived a perfect life for us, died on the cross for us, rose from the dead for us, and now reigns at the right hand of Goad for us (John 1:1-3, 14; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Luke 1:26-38; Hebrews 4:15; Romans 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15:12-24; Ephesians 1:20-23).
• We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:10).
• Faith in Jesus Christ come by the power of the Holy Spirit as He works through the means of grace � His Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord�s Supper � through which the blessings and benefits of Jesus� saving death and resurrection, namely the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation are offere3d, delivered, and applied to us. (John 6:63; Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 28:19-20).
• Baptism, which is water applied in the Name of the Triune God according to Jesus� mandate and promise, works rebirth and renewal, delivers and applies the forgiveness of sins, joins the baptized to Jesus� death and resurrection, and grants salvation to all who believe the promise of salvation attached to Baptism (Matthew 28:19-20; John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:25-26; Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:11-12; 1 Peter 3:21).
• Lord�s Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ given in, with, and under the bread and the wine, for Christians to eat and drink, instituted by Jesus Christ Himself, for the forgiveness of their sins (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
• Good works, prayer, and holiness of life are the fruit of faith in Christ, not the cause of faith or salvation (John 15:5; Hebrews 11:16).
• Christians are called to live for Jesus, seeking to serve and honor Him in all facets of life. Life cannot be divided into compartments where Jesus is not present, for He is the author and Lord of all of my life. To know Him is the only way to know what true life is all about, and serving Him is life�s greatest privilege (Colossians 2:6-7; Ephesians 5:1-8; Galatians 5:16-25).

I certainly don’t have any problem or concern with the Lutheran school professing their faith so strongly and passionately – that freedom is what makes America such a great country, in my opinion – but when a non-denominational institution like the University of Phoenix starts sending this out as a screening tool for teachers interested in an authorized University opportunity, alarm bells start ringing in my head.
The stated philosophy of the University: “The University educational philosophy and operational structure embody participative, collaborative, and applied problem solving strategies that are facilitated by a faculty whose advanced academic preparation and professional experience help integrate academic theory and current practical application.” Nothing about religious background or individual belief systems. Nothing about accepting the Gospel.
I’m trying to imagine if a school like Columbia, Purdue or even the University of California, Riverside would ever offer an opportunity to their faculty that involved such discriminatory selection criteria. I doubt it.
If UP were working with a women’s college, would they say “women instructors only”?
IF UP were partnering with a historically black college, would they post “no whites need apply”?
But isn’t this exact type of discrimination exactly what the University of Phoenix is doing through its partnership with Lutheran High?

24 comments on “University of Phoenix becomes ecumenical, spurns non-Christian faculty

  1. As long as no laws are being broken, I don’t see a problem with this. It seems that the statement of faith only applies to those who wish to be instructors within the confines of the Lutheran High School of Orange County part of the University. This seems very reasonable, actually, since only those students who *want* such instructors will use them, and if such instructors are being used in other aspects of the UOP, their statement of faith isn’t applied there. I don’t see a problem here. There’s no reason to expect everyone to adhere to a “no religion” policy, is there? Attendance is voluntary, so what’s the problem? Who’s hurt?

  2. As it applies only to teachers for Orange Lutheran Online I don’t see it as too unusual. Why would a Christian school employ someone who disagrees with their faith? If Phoenix required this for all staff, then I’d see the problem, however at this point this appears to be status quo.

  3. Thrivent Investment Management Inc. is a Fortune 500 firm that provides Financial services for Lutherans and in their employment postings they also require that you be of Faith.

  4. And I have no problems with Thrivent – in fact, I’ve written about what a good company they are from an ethical perspective. The problem I have is when a non-denominational, non-discriminatory organization like the University of Phoenix starts saying ‘yes” to opportunities that require them to be discriminatory.

  5. I agree with Tyler M. UoP isn’t saying yes to opportunities that require them to be discriminatory (DT) but rather they are entering into a new business tangent to fill a need. They must be cooperative in that business partner’s requirements and employment practices. In such environments (private, religious) they are allowed to set employment stipulations. Thus, UoP isn’t being discriminatory but rather is upholding their partner’s requirements.

  6. If an auto dealership carries Ford and Jeep, the parts aren’t always interchangable. If I buy a Jeep, I want my service performed by a Jeep specialist, not a shadetree Ford mechanic. If I am wanting a degree in religion, I don’t want someone who doesn’t know or subscribe to that religion teaching me.
    It’s all very simple; Phoenix is branching out and branches must have their own characteristics. If I graft a lemon branch to an Orange tree, I’m going to get lemons from that branch, not quamquots or peaches, or apples. If Phoenix is offering a Lutheran degree, they must have Lutherans running the show or it’s counterfeit.
    End of line…

  7. If you go to the UoP web site Careers page, you find the following Equal Employment Opportunity Statement:
    “Apollo Group, Inc. and its subsidiary companies are equal employment opportunity employers. The Company recruits, hires, trains, and promotes for all positions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other category protected by federal, state or local law. It is the objective of the Company to provide equal opportunity for employment.”
    That seems to suggest a clear conflict. They say “… without regard to … religion …”, but are requiring adherence to the doctine of a specific religion.
    I’m not sure who the recruits would be technically employed by, but it is Apollo that is doing the recruiting, and recruiting is covered by the equal employment opportunity statement for Apollo.
    — Jack Krupansky

  8. Most of the higher eductional instutions were founded upon christian values, now how many of then
    teach christian values ? What is fair for one group
    well evolution,is not creation to the other. Values
    are values to both but not exactly the same values to all.

  9. I think the big problem here is that no one truly knows what the relationship is between LHS and UoP. Is it truly a partnership or is UoP acting as a contractor?
    UoP has spent a lot of time and money building a working infrastructure for teaching classes online. LHS obviously wants to utilize the infrastructure rather than build their own. At the same time, they may not want to burden their own onsite teachers with this, so they need new teachers.
    First go around, they didn’t have an idea of how much response they would get. Now they know they have more than they need so they can start screening out with what they consider to be an important element, adherence to their religious code.
    This doesn’t effect any of UoP’s other classes, only those that are for LHS. In my eyes, no biggie.
    Then again, my wife signs a Morality Clause with her contract every year for the Catholic school she teaches at.

  10. I have to agree with Mr. Krupansky
    At some point this run afoul of Equal Opp laws, in spirit at the very least.
    Is your wife required to be a Catholic Mr Annis ? Or just sign a Morality Clause ? ( I think pro sports requires one too )
    I dont see anything wrong with religous schooling but this seems just a bitt off center .
    Fred Fisher

  11. I think it’s interesting that so many would be concerned about the business practice partnerhips of the Apollo Group. If a contractual relationships is signed between UOPO to provide the ‘delivery system’ for a specified faith based institution client; the business practice of the client remains consistent between the campus and online delivery system. Given the history and reputation of Apollo Group, Inc. one would consider that an incredible amount of legal research has been conducted to create a contractual agreement that is law abiding.

  12. I’m one of the teachers for LHS (but an unofficial voice) and worked with the UOP to help develop the courses. We are a Christian school and like said in many of the previous posts, our curriculum involves Jesus and faith. We want active Christians teaching our classes because Christianity is a part of our everyday discussions online. The UOP has been a tremendous resource in helping us create this new opportunity and they are continuing to do so utilizing their vast resources. I’m sorry if you were offended in some way.

  13. The truth is that the world is changing–including rapid evolution of delivery systems. Who knows, UoP may become a provider for dozens of groups who want to contract with them to utilize their considerable know-how and infrastructure in educational delivery. Is this wrong?

  14. The University of Phoenix has a clear expression of its philosophy. The key phrase in this instance is: “professional experience”. If you are not a believer you have no experience pertinent to these positions. That is less a discrimination against you than your howling against them reveals an anti-Christian bias on your part.

  15. “howling”. I always find word choice to be so interesting when people try to engage in a discussion – or not. When you are interested in *talking* about the issue I raised, perhaps you can come back and try again?

  16. On Dec. 5, 2006, the Arizona Republic published an article which stated that computer giant Intel Corporation will no longer pay for business courses taken by its employees at schools which lack accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The University of Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ) and Strayer University (Arlington, VA) both lack this accreditation. According to the article, other large corporations are expected to follow Intel’s lead.

  17. Yes, I think that UOP should be able to hire Christian facilitator, if it considers itself to be a Christian base University.

  18. Any educational institution that receives federal funds – including federally funded student loans — can’t discriminate on teh basis of religion.
    The Department of Education needs to know about this as well.

  19. This is blatent blurring of church and state and these bloggers obviously have been so inculcated that they don’t realize how public institutions are becoming pious religious forums. When will people start to realize that these bible thumpers are inserting their beliefs into public policy, to the detriment of our Constitutional freedoms

  20. If UOPO is a contractor to the LHS then it makes sense that they would follow the screening directives passed along through LHS policies, and it would be the right of a non-governmental business (LHS) to limit its hires that way. The statements that must be subscribed to, however, will serve to screen “Christians” further. LDS, for example, would have trouble with some of those statements. Is the question also whether a person must be committed in their heart to those statements of faith, or that a hiring canidate must be willing to commit to not teach contrary to those precepts?

  21. There is only One Way and that is through Jesus Christ. Without Him we cannot do anything. Sure we can try real hard with our man power but one day those things will end up going in smoke if we do not have Jesus in the picture. We can try some new teaching method but there is one teaching that still remains the same and that is the Holy Bible God’s very own Word. Textbooks in schools and Universities today are being changed constantly and no truth relies in them. God’s Truth through His Word (the Bible) is what is full of love and is what is keep this nation together today. Not some textbook that will be outdated by next year. God Bless You! Jesus loves you!

  22. I would like add my 2 cents, this extends further than that. I was doing a grammar exercise on Axia online just involves answering questions on quizzes, one particular question, was way too religion based, to be honest I wasn’t 100% sure this was the right answer, i was about 80% sure. my background is that I’m Sikh, a religion prominent in India for those who aren’t familiar with it. I was able to answer that question simply because I am some what interested in multi-religious studies and such. But I have never read the bible, and never intend to, why? Because there’s too many people who believe I should be forced to read it and accept Christianity as my religion, total BS btw, but off topic. the question involved the punctuation the Bible uses in its text for a certain phrase they took out of it. so WTF, why should I have to know how the bible uses punctuation? I’m no lawyer and don’t intend to be, but I feel like my religious rights were infringed upon. This isn’t the first time, there are strong Christian based themes in the school work, I know i’m a student, and its unfair. I’m pointing here because I found this off of google, I searched “university of phoenix allowed to be religious?” right after I came across that question. Don’t get me wrong I study christianity all the time, facts and stuff that interests me in general, but, I DO NOT BELIEVE I SHOULD BE FORCED TO LEARN CHRISTIAN THINGS LIKE THIS.

  23. The people commenting that this is for the Lutheran teaching section and that it is absolutely applicable to have instructors in this area agree to the articles of faith are absolutely correct. It’s a partnership, and the religious education portion of it is being taught by people who are being screened in the same way as if it were a stand-alone religious educational institution. If Wiccans want to do the same, if Buddhists want to do the same, if Hindus want to do the same, no one is stopping them.

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