Moody Drops Alcohol, Tobacco Ban for Employees

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The evangelical Moody Bible Institute has dropped its ban on alcohol and tobacco consumption by its 600-member faculty and staff, including for those who work in its radio and publishing arms.

The change in August reflected a desire to create a "high trust environment that emphasizes values, not rules," said spokeswoman Christine Gorz. Employees must adhere to all "biblical absolutes," Gorz said, but on issues where the Bible is not clear, Moody leaves it to employees' conscience.

Employees may not drink on the job or with Moody students, who are not allowed to drink while in school.

Founded in 1886 by evangelist D. L. Moody, the Moody Bible Institute pays the cost of tuition (about $6,000 per semester before federal aid) for its 1,600 undergraduates who attend the main campus in downtown Chicago, many of whom go into ministry after graduation.

Moody Bible Institute has campuses in Michigan and Spokane, Washington, and owns 36 radio stations across the country.

Students must abstain from tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and sexual promiscuity for at least one year before they enroll and during their time at Moody.

"In addition, students are to refrain from gambling, viewing obscene or pornographic literature, and patronizing pubs, bars, nightclubs, comedy clubs, and similar establishments," the catalog says. "There will be no on- or off-campus dances sponsored or organized by Moody Bible Institute students or personnel."

Last year, the school lifted a ban on long hair for men and nose studs for women. "Hair is to be well-groomed and should avoid extremes," the guidelines say, and hair should be of natural color.

The change at Moody represents the latest shift in attitudes at different Christian institutions in recent years.

Ten years ago in suburban Chicago, Wheaton College lifted the ban on student dancing and now allows faculty, staff and graduate students to drink, though not on campus. …