[Editors Note: Name has been changed for this story]
I am a BYU alumnus, and I had a great experience at BYU. Shortly after I graduated, I experienced an unexpected change in my beliefs. I found that it made more sense to me that the Abrahamic God as described in the Bible doesn’t exist. I did not expect, did not want, and did not believe that my religious beliefs would change from those upheld in LDS theology, but when my beliefs did change, I realized that BYU administrators and bishops could have caused me extreme duress had that changed occurred only a year earlier.
BYU administrators often conflate Honor Code approved behaviors with Honor Code approved beliefs. I advocate no changes to the behaviors, religious or otherwise, required by the Honor Code of Brigham Young University. However, the policy that certain beliefs might be required to be in good standing with a university’s honor code directly contradicts section
2.A.28 of the NWCCU’s Standards for Accreditation, and is proof that changes are required for BYU to meet this standard. Furthermore, requiring certain beliefs to be in good honor code standing contradicts the 11th Article of Faith.
If an LDS student declares disbelief about a single doctrine contained in the LDS Temple Recommend questions, they are immediately placed on indefinite academic probation. Even worse, a single BYU bishop can pull a student’s ecclessiastical endorsement for any arbitrary reason. This is especially dangerous when lay clergy conflate political and religious ideals, as in the cases of gay marriage, gender equality, reproductive rights, etc.
BYU doesn’t just kick you out of school for holding beliefs that disagree with Mormon theology or being accused of such by one’s bishop–they also kick you out of your housing, your employment, and they prevent you from transferring any of the credits you have earned. Even if the goal of the policy isn’t to be intentionally vindictive towards doubters, it is unnecessarily harsh, very obviously creating a culture that inhibits the free expression of ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
BYU clearly inhibits and punishes, as stated directly in their policies and procedures through expulsion and transcript holds, students who come to disbelieve any of the theological tenets expressed in the Temple Recommend interview or students who hold opinions that their bishop happens to find unsavory.
The solution is extremely simple and minimal for BYU–allow LDS BYU students who have come to disbelieve one or more religious tenets included in the Temple Recommend interview to be interviewed by the non-denominational chaplain to attain their Honor Code endorsement and allow them to stay and pay non-subsidized tuition, or transfer with the credits they have earned.