In a religious institution such as Brigham Young University, should a professor be allowed to teach who does not share the same religious views they are required to teach? On occasion there have been professors at BYU who are not actually members of the Church of JesusChrist of Latter-Day Saints. I do not believe this should be allowed. I believe all professors at BYU should be members of the LDS church. BYU professors are required to apply their subject of teaching to the Gospel and a testimony is required to do so.
The curriculum for BYU’s professors requires that all professors teach how their subject relates to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. According to the BYU History website, in the early history of BYU (when it was still Brigham Young Academy), Brigham Young stated to President Karl G. Maeser: "Brother Maeser, I don't want you to try to teach even the multiplication table without the Spirit and influence of the power of God." As Brigham Young was an LDS Prophet, I believe this statement to Karl Maeser (the president of Brigham Young Academy at the time) shows the importance of integrating the principles of the Gospel within all subjects taught at BYU. Therefore, since BYU is an LDS-regulated university, the professors should be LDS.
Though I believe all professors at BYU should be members of the LDS church, I recognize that there are many non-members who live righteous lives and are close to their Father in Heaven. I am not discriminating against these people, as many of them are some of the greatest people in terms of righteousness. However, I still believe professors should be required to be LDS members in order to teach at BYU. Though these people are great people and very knowledgeable and close to their God, I believe that if they truly know and believe the Gospel principles well enough to teach them at BYU, they should have a strong enough testimony to have joined the church. I do not mean to discriminate against anyone; however, I believe professors should have a strong testimony of their own in order to preach the Gospel principles within their area of teaching.
General authorities of the Church have also emphasized the necessity of having a testimony of, and faith in, the Church and its principles. A prime example of this is when Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a current apostle of the Church, was called to be the new president of BYU in 1971. In Elder Oaks’ inaugural address, he stated the following concerning BYU:
…Our reason for being a university is to encourage and prepare young men and women to rise to their full potential as sons and daughters of God….What makes us unique is the spiritual dimension we provide. By spiritual dimension I mean our faith in God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ, our devotion to the principles of the restored gospel, our concern with personal behavior, and our commitment to the essential harmony of secular learning and the spiritual values that embody all truth.
According to President Oaks, it is the Spirit that makes BYU so unique; the beliefs, views, and unity associated with the Gospel set this university apart from others. How can a professor who is not a member possibly create such a spirit within the students if they do not believe in the Church themselves? If a professor does not have a testimony, they will not be nearly as effective as one with a testimony in providing a spiritual environment for the students to excel.
If general authorities of the Church, as messengers of God, emphasize so strongly the need for students to be immersed in the Spirit, why do they allow professors to teach who do not have a true testimony? How does BYU expect its students to learn and progress in the Gospel if they are not being educated by those who truly believe in the Church themselves? They cannot; it simply is not logical. I propose that the administration should no longer higher non-members. I recognize that there are multiple non-member professors currently, and it would be unreasonable for them to be required to leave; this is not what I am proposing; however, I think they should no longer higher professors who are non-members, unless extreme circumstances require otherwise. Interviewing professors should meet with one of the administration or authorities of the church, and be required to show a current temple recommend. If there is critical demand for a professor, exceptions should be made and the Board should use their discretion to find the most well-qualified professor, regardless of their beliefs so long as they agree to abide by the Honor Code. By doing so, BYU will ensure that students are being taught and edified by those who will be able to help them benefit most at this university.
Having been raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I know the principles of the Gospel well. I made the decision to attend BYU because I knew it would help me grow and develop even more in the Gospel; I came here knowing I would be taught both academically and spiritually. I knew BYU would help my testimony grow more than anything else at this point in my life. Because of this, I believe I should be taught by professors who truly know and believe what they teach. I do not believe someone can adequately teach with the Spirit if they have not obtained a testimony of their own; therefore, for the students’ sake, they should not be allowed to do so.