Several Lewis-Clark State College faculty and students are raising concerns that recent social media posts by a school administrator reflect badly on the institution.
The criticism was directed at LCSC Marketing and Communications Director Logan Fowler, who also serves as pastor of Truth Baptist Church in Lewiston.
In his role as pastor, Fowler has been disparaging of the LGBT community. One video posted on the church Facebook page, for example, suggests gay Pride parades foreshadow the acceptance of pedophilia, and that the idea of “coming for your children” is a central tenet of the LGBT “agenda.”
In other videos, he rails against transgender athletes, suggests that lesbians and homosexuals are “vile” and claims that “our world hates God, hates Christians and hates the Bible.”
The remarks prompted supporters and members of Lewiston-Clarkston Valley’s LGBT community to hold a peaceful demonstration across the street from Truth Baptist Church on Sunday.
They were also the main topic of conversation during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled open meeting with LCSC President Cynthia Pemberton, which took place via Zoom.
Lauren Connolly, who teaches English at the school, said Fowler’s comments undermine public trust in LCSC, given his prominent position with the institution.
“When we have an administrator who speaks in contrast to what we say we believe as an institution, how do we develop trust between the community and the college?” she asked.
Kason Seward, a senior at the school and president of the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, said the type of rhetoric Fowler wields in his sermons has been used throughout history to persecute members of the LGBT community.
“I love LCSC,” Seward said. “This is a place that has put me on a path to everything I ever wanted in life.”
However, the stark contrast between Fowler’s private comments and the school’s support for diversity and nondiscrimination makes him wonder if those policies are just empty words.
“I feel betrayed, honestly,” Seward said. “How can we as an institution foster trust in our community when we actively protect people who are anti what we believe?”
Pemberton said she appreciated the feedback from students and faculty, but she also made it clear there’s a dividing line between Fowler’s public role as a school administrator and his private role as a church pastor.
In a prepared statement, she said LCSC “respects the First Amendment rights of its employees to express their personal beliefs. However, LC State itself supports and values the rights and dignity of all persons.”
Pemberton also quoted from the school’s diversity policy, saying LCSC “is committed to providing a learning environment that affords people of all backgrounds and identities the opportunity to achieve their highest educational goals.”
“Nothing has changed in terms of what we value, what we support and our beliefs,” she said. “We keep living it and every day get up and try to affirm it and live it again.”
Fowler did not sign in on Tuesday’s Zoom meeting. He provided a statement to the Lewiston Tribune on Tuesday evening categorically denying that his personal beliefs prevent him from effectively performing his job.
“I have an impeccable 15-year track record that verifies my ability to be respectful in the workplace,” he said. “I have held and practiced my faith for all 15 of these years.”
In addition to “exemplary” performance evaluations, Fowler said, “my record includes an Employee of the Year Award in 2017 — an award voted on by my peers.”
“I am a Christian who believes the Bible is true,” he said. “I believe sin is real and so is the Savior Jesus Christ. I will not be bullied into relinquishing my First Amendment rights to practice my religion and exercise free speech as a private citizen and as a pastor in my place of worship. ... Those who say Bible believers like me no longer have a place in a public institution are the intolerant ones. Sadly, the rights of Bible believers are under assault, even in America, even in Idaho.”
Pemberton said she finds it “terribly sad” that the school finds itself in this situation. However, she expressed appreciation for the right all Americans have to voice their opinions, even when they’re distasteful.
“I value the fact that individuals have First Amendment rights,” she said. “All the beliefs that you’re sharing, the sentiments that you’re sharing, there are people who believe very differently — and we do coexist.”
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