LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ — A dean has resigned from her job at Rider University after the institution decided it did not want a Chick-fil-A on campus.
Cythnia Newman, dean of the College of Business Administration, told Campusreform.org she resigned because Rider’s decision conflicts with her beliefs as a Christian.
“I’m a very committed Christian, and Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose statement is to glorify God and to be faithful stewards to all that’s entrusted to them and have a positive influence on anyone who comes into contact with them,” Newman said in the video. “I would say that mirros my personal beliefs perfectly.”
The univesity said its decision banning Chick-fil-A was not an attack on Christian values.
Rider Univesity students voted in a fall survey for a Chick-fil-A restaurant to open on campus. Rider officials subsequently sent another survey to students that exlcuded Chick-fil-A from consideration, “based on the company’s record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community,” the university said.
Chick-fil-A’s founder, the late S. Truett Cathy, was a devout Southern Baptist and believed that marriage is intended to be only for one man and one woman, just as it is in the Bible. (Gen. 2:24)
In a follow-up letter, Rider officials said they removed Chick-fil-A from its list of choices for a new restaurant because the college “decided to lead in a direction of creating a welcoming environment where differences can be appreciated and where each individual can expect to experience dignity and respect.”
“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement,” Newman said in a video (posted below).
Newman said she is not someone who makes a fuss or will rant and rave. After reading the letter, however, she spoke with university leaders about the issue and asked them to apologize.
The university sent a follow-up email, but offered no apology, she said. She also said leaders sent department heads a list of talking points they could use to respond to criticism over the Chick-fil-A controversey, including a statement of reaffirmation of the university’s commitment to inclusion. (See related: NJ University Says No To On-Campus Chick-fil-A For Company’s Pro-Marriage Views)
“What struck me the wrong way and why I couldn’t adhere to those is because in the absence of an apology for an offense that was made to Christian values and other face values, those talking points were something I couldn’t say in good conscience,” Newman said. “To respond by saying the university seeks to produce individuals that are responsible citizens, the implication is that people who adhere to values similar to Chick-fil-A’s are not responsible citizens.”
Newman will remain as a member of Rider’s faculty and serve as a special assistant to the provost, according to the university.
“While we respect Dr. Newman’s personal decision, we maintain that the decision about choosing an on-campus restaurant franchise was in no way a judgement on religious values,” Rider spokesperson Kristine Brown told Patch.com. “Rather, our intention was to foster a sense of respect and belonging of all members of the campus community, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.”
Rider student Charley Furey, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, responded in an open letter to Newman on social media. He defended Rider’s stance, saying it is line with Christian values and not an attack on faith, as Newman claimed it was. (Read the letter here.)
“I understand that you may have very different beliefs than me, and you have every right to that. However, I feel it is my duty to inform you that the belief that it is wrong to be LGBT is, simply put, wrong,” Furey said in his letter. “As someone who was raised Catholic, I know in my heart that who I am is not wrong, and I would take the word of millions of LGBT people who also know in thier hearts over what one guy wrote in a sentence in a 2000-year-old book. I will take at its word, however, the overall message of the book: That God loves everyone.”
Chick-fil-A has a history of donating to Christian organizations and advocacy groups, including ones that oppose same-sex marriage. Trudy Cathy White, Truett’s daugther, defended her father’s position on marriage and the company’s fundraising history.
“My dad built this business based on biblical principles. He felt like his business decisions kind of go hand in hand with biblical principles. That’s no secret. There’s a lot of things that we are taught in God’s Word and we’ve been able to put it into practice in our business,” White told The Christian Post. “We’re in business to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that’s been trusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
By Daniel Hubbard, editor