By NOELLE BARKE
The recent faculty policy change is a minor adjustment in the university’s efforts to ensure all BYU employees including faculty, staff and administrative personnel are eligible for a temple recommend, said BYU President Merrill J. Bateman.
“The only thing that’s new is that there’s a slight variation in terms of how it will be implemented,” President Bateman said.
Temple worthiness has been a requirement for faculty and staff at Ricks College, BYU, BYU-Hawaii and the seminaries and institutes for several years. However, each entity has had its own method of verifying the requirement.
The recently adopted procedure standardizes the process by sending each LDS employee’s bishop a letter from the Commissioner of Education asking them to verify the individual’s eligibility for a temple recommend.
“The key thing is that other parts of the Church Educational System have been doing this for many years and it’s only been Brigham Young University that’s not been on this particular procedure,” President Bateman said. “The real interest in the board of trustees was to unify the way in which we applied the policy across all the institutions of the church.”
Renewing temple recommends is an opportunity for growth, said Brent Harker, director of Public Communications.
“For most of us here at BYU, it’s a privilege to go back annually and renew our commitment to the greater cause and to the church. We don’t see that as restrictive or controlling,” Harker said.
This decision, which was finalized in a board of trustees meeting in December, has received mixed reviews from the BYU employees that it directly affects.
Lee Braithwaite, associate professor of zoology supports the new policy.
“It’s very fine. All the faculty and staff should be living that way anyway. It has my complete support,” Braithwaite said.
William Evenson, professor of physics, disagrees with the policy adjustment.
“It intrudes into my personal religious life and my life with my religious leader,” Evenson said. “To monitor everybody is an out-of-proportion response. For me it’s a moral issue but most people don’t think it’s anything to get excited about,” Evenson said.
President Bateman is willing to listen to faculty concerns, Harker said.
“It’s not that we want to ignore the people who are having a problem with it,” Harker said. “But I don’t think we have a big revolt on our hands. Most everybody on this campus is very supportive of this,” Harker said.
President Bateman said the policy adjustment will have a positive influence on campus.
“The students are asked to abide by the Honor Code, the LDS faculty have been asked to be temple eligible and the non-LDS faculty have been asked to abide by the Honor Code. This way we can ensure good role models for the students which is what we’re after,” President Bateman said.
The policy change does not require employees to physically show their temple recommend. Employees are required, however, to be eligible for a temple recommend and are allowed a few months to resolve issues with their bishops if they are not found to be worthy.
“Everyone of us who is here has accepted a sacred and compelling trust, with that trust there must be accountability,” Harker said. “That trust involves standards of behavior as well as standards of academic excellence,” Harker said.