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Fired for Divorcing?

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The divorce process can be emotionally and physically draining - after all, you have to worry about legal issues like child support, child custody and court deadlines as well as all the emotional stress of ending a relationship and explaining it to your family and friends.

For one Illinois man, the usual concerns of divorce are compounded by the loss of his job - and not just on a coincidental basis. Kent Gramm, an English professor of 20 years at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, will resign after this school year to avoid being fired, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The reason he'd be let go? He's divorcing his wife of 30 years.

Apparently, Wheaton College, which is an evangelical Christian school, requires its students and employees to follow a code of conduct based on guidelines from the New Testament. Upon accepting a job at the college, sources indicate that staff members must sign a Statement of Faith and agree to live based on the terms of a Community Covenant.

Those terms evidently include bans on drinking, smoking and gambling (and dancing, until four years ago) and are meant to outline acceptable behavior for those associated with the school.

Technically, divorce is not prohibited for faculty and staff members, but the administration reportedly requires any prospective or current employee with a divorce on record to consult with administration to see if the divorce is acceptable, according to the conditions outlined in Christian scriptures. Those conditions include adultery and desertion.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Gramm was unwilling to discuss his divorce with members of the administration. It seems he feels the end of his marriage is a private matter, and doesn't want to have to accuse his wife of anything in front of his employer.

Hence his decision to leave.

Sources note that the college offered Gramm the option of staying on for another year while he looks for a new job, but the popular professor refused, opting instead to leave after the semester is finished.

Not surprisingly, the incident has sparked controversy on Wheaton's campus and in area newspapers, as students and others debate the policy that's led to Gramm's imminent departure. Gramm himself is quoted as saying that while he understands the reasons behind the school's policy, he wishes it would demonstrate a broader definition of mercy and faithfulness to its students.

According to sources, Gramm has noted that he doesn't want his students to get the message that, should their own marriages end, they will be abandoned by God or rejected by Christianity.

But perhaps that's a lesson he won't get a chance to teach.


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