Mike Adams

Professor Wetchler commented that many of his LDS students receive significant callings from the church. That is, they are asked to take on significant responsibilities within the LDS Church. But Wetchler advised Mr. Ford: “I strongly recommend that you not accept any callings.” In fact, Wetchler devoted much of his interview time to Mr. Ford’s background as a member of the LDS Church. He commented that it is very hard to be an LDS student in Indiana and in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in particular – almost as if he were trying to discourage him from coming. He even boasted that every married LDS student in the program had divorced before or soon after graduation.

Professor Trepper interviewed him, too. After discussing Mr. Ford’s educational background, he asked: “How will you treat homosexual clients?” Mr. Ford replied once again: “I would treat them with dignity and respect, much like I would treat any other client.”

Finally, Professor Hecker interviewed Mr. Ford. She requested that he ask her questions about the program. But she also mentioned ethical issues that affect Mormon students. Like all the other interviewers, she asked: “How will you treat gay clients?” Mr. Ford replied: “I would treat them with dignity and respect, much like I would treat any other client.”

In March of 2003, Mr. Ford was invited into the master’s program at Purdue. In the fall of 2003, he matriculated into the program and enrolled in Professor Wetchler’s Advanced Child Development class. He was the only Mormon student in the class.

In December of 2003, Professor Wetchler opened an Advanced Child Development class by discussing the supposed difficulties faced by parents who engage in homosexual conduct. Normally, he covered several topics in one class, but on this day, he dedicated the entire three hours to the issue of “gay parenting.”

Ultimately, Professor Wetchler steered the class discussion so that it focused on each student’s personal beliefs regarding homosexual conduct - asking each student to give a personal opinion. As the discussion proceeded, every student condoned this type of behavior and displayed tremendous hostility towards traditional morality. During the break, Mr. Ford approached Professor Wetchler and asked whether he was “safe” to express his religiously-based beliefs without retaliation - admitting he was fearful because of the climate the learned professor had created.

Professor Wetchler encouraged him to participate in the discussion.

When Mr. Ford’s turn came, he explained that he thought homosexual conduct was morally wrong, but he emphasized that he would not treat any individual differently as a result. He condemned all forms of discrimination, explaining that he, personally, had been a victim of discrimination. He cited his experience during the interview process, where all four interviewers asked about his religious beliefs and used his response to determine whether he would be accepted into the program. When he asked his classmates to indicate by a show of hands whether they had been asked the question “How will you treat gay clients?” none of the 20 students responded.

Professor Wetchler became visibly upset with Mr. Ford, and he said: “Jeff, you have been taught not to express what you believe to protect yourself.” Mr. Ford noted the hostile environment in the classroom toward anyone who did not condone homosexual behavior.

Next, Professor Wetchler began discussing the merits of Mr. Ford’s LDS faith. When Mr. Ford noted how his mission work had helped solidify that faith, Wetchler dismissed his idea saying Mr. Ford had been raised in an “insulated society.” He then concluded by saying: “Jeff, I have a private agenda for you.”

We’ll learn more about the good professor’s agenda in the next installment of this series.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.