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U.S. Briefs: Cru employees fired

The Christian campus ministry dismissed Uriah and Marissa Mundell after they publicly voiced concern over its LGBT policies


Uriah and Marissa Mundell Photo by Billy Calzada / Genesis

U.S. Briefs: Cru employees fired
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Texas

One of the nation’s largest campus ministries has dismissed two longtime employees who publicly questioned the way it addresses theological issues surrounding sexuality and gender. Uriah and Marissa Mundell, who live and work in Austin, voiced their concern over Cru’s policies in a WORLD story published Feb. 22. Two weeks later, the organization formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ terminated their employment.

“Our primary concern is that the level of dissonance you have with Cru’s position on biblical sexuality that led you to go to public spaces to communicate your disagreement with the ministry,” the human resources department said in a March 13 email.

Last year, after completing the ministry’s new mandatory sexuality training, the Mundells, who are both 42, said they raised concerns with their supervisors, the human resources department, and other Cru leaders, including the director of theological development, Keith Johnson. Each time, they said, their concerns were dismissed.

The Mundells questioned whether it is Scriptural for Cru to allow staff to adopt LGBT identity labels—including identifying as “gay Christian” or using a person’s preferred pronouns—and to refer to same-sex attraction as a “disordering of sexual desire,” not sin.

“We know that Cru’s position on biblical sexuality is an area of deep concern for you,” the email from the HR department said. “It is important that you realize you can hold your views and continue to serve with Cru as long as they don’t conflict with our statement of faith or our missionary vows.”

The organization’s first two missionary vows include affirming “Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord” and “the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God and [I] willingly submit to the authority of God’s Word.” The Mundells were told they broke the sixth vow, which states, “I pledge to work for the peace and unity of Cru.”

Cru’s communication department declined to comment on the Mundells’ firing. —Mary Jackson


Alaska

A joint session of the state’s Legislature fell one vote short of overriding a veto from Gov. Mike Dunleavy on a multimillion dollar education funding package. Legislators passed the bipartisan bill in February, ­giving the state’s per-student funding formula a $680 bump. The measure also earmarked additional funding for rural schools to get faster internet and help students struggling with reading. But Dunleavy criticized the bill for not including funding for teacher bonuses and not giving his personally appointed education board control of approving charter schools. After the vote, Dunleavy, a former educator, assured school boards that “education funding will be prioritized” going forward. —Christina Grube


Montana

A rancher pleaded guilty March 12 to conspiring to create huge hybrid sheep for hunting preserves. Arthur Schubarth, 80, used tissue and testicles from Marco Polo argali sheep trafficked from Kyrgyzstan to clone and inseminate ewes. Argali sheep often weigh more than 300 pounds with horns extending more than 5 feet. Schubarth also illegally obtained genetic material from the state’s wild-hunted big-horn sheep and forged false veterinary inspection certificates. A U.S. Justice Department attorney called the plan an “audacious scheme to create massive hybrid sheep species to be sold and hunted as trophies.” Schubarth faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each felony count. —Sharon Dierberger


Riley Gaines

Riley Gaines Grace Ramey/Daily News via AP

Georgia

More than a dozen current and former female college athletes are suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association over a policy that allows men to compete in women’s sports. The 16 women, led by former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta on March 14. They say the NCAA is discriminating against women and violating their Title IX rights and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by allowing males who identify as females to participate in women’s athletics. According to the lawsuit, the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Championships for swimming spurred the athletes to take legal action. During the 200-yard freestyle final, Gaines tied for fifth place with the male swimmer known as Lia Thomas from the University of Pennsylvania. Thomas received the trophy, and he later won the 500-yard freestyle race. Gaines and her fellow athletes are pushing the NCAA to reverse its transgender policies and revoke any award or record from male athletes who competed in women’s events. —Lauren Canterberry


Gene Johnson/AP

Fact Box Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and World Atlas

Wyoming

It will soon be illegal in the Cowboy State to produce, process, or sell hemp products with synthetic additives that cause marijuana-like effects when eaten or inhaled. Delta-8 THC occurs naturally, but the kind sold as hemp products in edibles and smoke or vape shops is more potent and unregulated. In 2018, Congress legalized the sale of hemp containing less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychoactive effects. But it didn’t address synthetic delta-8, often called “diet weed,” that produces less hallucinogenic effects than ­marijuana but contains added harmful chemicals. National poison control centers handled more than 2,300 delta-8-­related calls in a 14-month period, contributing to appeals for increased oversight. More than two dozen states now ban, restrict, or heavily regulate the sale of delta-8 THC. Wyoming’s ban takes effect in July. —Todd Vician


Massachusetts

Six students from Southwick Regional School are facing criminal charges for sending racist Snapchat messages. The students, who are all 13 or 14 years old, created a group chat “that included heinous language, threats, and a mock slave auction,” according to Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni. The “slave auction” messages targeted two of the students’ classmates. The students sent the messages the night of Feb. 8. By the next day, someone had reported the chat to school officials. The school swiftly suspended the students, but the incident has shaken the small town outside Springfield. At a March 14 press conference, Gulluni said he would not release the juveniles’ identities. They are charged with several crimes under state law, including interfering with civil rights, threatening to commit a crime, and witness interference. Gulluni did not say if the targets of the racist messages have returned to school. —Elizabeth Russell

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