In this episode sociologist and scholar Mark Juergensmeyer, Ph.D. explains his reasons for boycotting Brigham Young University over its policy to expel LDS students who lose their testimony of the LDS Church’s truthfulness.
The text of Dr. Juergensmeyer’s letter is as follows:
Prof Elizabeth Clark
International Center for Law and Religion Studies
Brigham Young University
I regret that I will be unable to participate in the Law and Religion Symposium that is being held this week at BYU. It was an honor to be invited to speak at this event, and as you know I made every effort to make room in my schedule to be there on Tuesday. My decision not to participate is an act of conscience based on BYU’s policy of expelling any Mormon student who leaves the faith or converts to another religion.
Alas I was unaware of this policy until this weekend when it was brought to my attention. I have decided that it would be hypocritical of me to participate in a conference in which the issue of religious liberty is paramount when the institution sponsoring it fundamentally violates this principle in its policies towards Mormon students. As I understand it, non-Mormons are allowed to enroll in BYU, and they are welcome to convert to the Mormon faith if they wish, but if Mormon students change their religious affiliation they lose their scholarship, their campus housing and jobs, and are expelled from school even if they are months away from graduation.
In making this decision I mean no disrespect to you, the Center with which you are affiliated, or the other participants in this week’s conference. I know that many faculty members at BYU are opposed to this policy and are quietly working to change it. I applaud them, and hope that my decision will be taken as a sign of support for those within BYU who are seeking change. I appreciation your dilemma and admire your persistence.
Again, thanks for the honor of the invitation. I hope that I will be invited back to BYU and will be able to accept some time in the future when this policy restricting religious freedom is lifted.
Professor of Sociology and Global Studies
Founding Director and Fellow
Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies
To sign the petition calling on the LDS Church to change its policy, please click here.
A HUGE thanks to the amazing work of FreeBYU.org for breaking this important story.
Dr. Juergensmeyer is director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, professor of sociology and global studies, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a pioneer in the field of global studies and writes on global religion, religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics. He has published more than three hundred articles and twenty books, including the recent Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State (University of California Press, 2008). Here you can see picturesof Mark, read his full bio , or his wikipedia entry