- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2004

RICHMOND (AP) — The director of student life at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond has resigned, saying he could not enforce a policy that excludes practicing homosexuals, including those in committed relationships.

“I couldn’t stay at the seminary and support a policy I didn’t agree with and wouldn’t comply with,” the Rev. Warren Hammonds said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“I would have had to turn in homosexuals or lie about it,” he said. “I couldn’t do either and live with myself.”

Mr. Hammonds, who held the post for seven years, told The Washington Times Saturday that he was “very comfortable” with his decision and that he never “second-guessed” himself.

The seminary code states: “Sexual promiscuity, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is not an acceptable lifestyle for any member of the seminary community.” Failure to report a violation “breaches the code.”

It also states that anyone violating the code is subject to disciplinary action “up to and including expulsion for students or termination for faculty and staff.”

Seminary President Thomas H. Graves told the Times-Dispatch “no homosexuals have been disciplined” as a result of a code violation.

The seminary was established in 1989 by a vote of the Southern Baptist Alliance, now the Alliance of Baptists, according to the seminary’s Web site.

Mr. Graves said active homosexuals would be discouraged from entering the seminary.

Mr. Hammonds is the only person to resign from the seminary over the Code of Ethics policy, and no students have left because of it, Mr. Graves said.

“It was an issue of integrity with him,” Mr. Graves said of Mr. Hammonds.

The policy, Mr. Hammonds said, is confusing. “If a married student is having multiple sexual partners, it would be deemed promiscuous, but homosexuals with just one partner would be promiscuous,” he said.

Mr. Hammonds said the code put him in an uncomfortable position. “Some students who come to seminary are questioning or confused about their sexuality,” he said. “As a pastoral person, those students may have come out to me.”

Mr. Hammonds told The Times he grappled with the decision on whether to resign for about a week in May before verbally resigning. Mr. Hammonds submitted a written resignation June 22. “I had no idea where I would end up when I decided to quit,” he said. “I quit without [knowing] where I could get a job.”

Mr. Hammonds is now with the Meals on Wheels organization, which he described as a “great place with a great bunch of people.”

• Joseph Weber contributed to this report.

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