The American Bible Society, which has been engaging people with God's Word for over 200 years, has implemented a new employee policy that has prompted some of their staff to quit.
The policy requires employees to not only affirm the belief that the Bible is inspired by God but to also commit to pursuing their identity in Christ "as described in the Bible." More specifically, that includes regular Bible engagement, being involved in a local church, and resisting temptations of "deception, malicious speech ... and dishonoring my body through substance abuse."
Religion News Service reported that at least nine of the organization's 200 or so employees have quit, namely over the new policy's requirement "to refrain from sexual activity outside of the marriage covenant prescribed and exemplified in the Bible: 'a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one,' symbolizing the relationship between Christ and His Church."
One of the employees who quit is Jeremy Gimbel, who is gay and worked with ABS for a decade. He said the new policy "specifically excludes me," according to RNS.
According to a statement released to The Christian Post, ABS President and CEO Roy Peterson said the policy — called Affirmation of Biblical Community — was announced on Dec. 5, 2017 and is meant to align staff and board members "around a set of Christian beliefs and practices."
"It addresses the core tenets of the historic Christian faith and articulates expected behaviors to uphold a set of unifying beliefs, values and conduct as set forth in the Bible," Peterson said. "We did this because we believe a staff made up of people with a deep and personal connection to the Bible will bring unity and clarity as we continue our third century of ministry.
"We realize everyone must live by his or her own conscience and understanding of what God calls his people to do."
Acknowledging that there are "differing views on these matters," he added that he hopes Christians "can disagree with respect, civility and love."
"If staff members disagree with the Affirmation of Biblical Community, thus choosing to seek employment elsewhere, we will support their decision and continue to treat them with respect and care in their transition."
Employees have one year before they are required to affirm the new policy.
Peterson also stressed that this will not affect their mission to make the Bible available to everyone.
"To be clear, while we are now clarifying an understanding of Scripture with our employees, we remain committed to making the Bible available to anyone who needs it, regardless of alignment on these values. This decision does not signal intent to advocate or champion any cause other than increased engagement with the Bible."
The nonprofit organization, now based in Philadelphia along Independence National Historical Park, is dedicated to distributing Bibles around the world.
Since 1816, ABS has worked toward making the Bible available to every person in a language and format each "can understand and afford," so all people may experience its transformative message.