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Austin Cline

Missouri Baptists Defund College

By November 16, 2003

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As was reported here earlier, the Missouri Baptist Convention has been unhappy with William Jewell College, an institution generally regarded as considered a "bastion" of Baptist education in Missouri. Many students there eventually enter the ministry and prayers are a daily facet of life. Recently, however, "William Jewell College leaders last week confirmed they had rejected the Missouri Baptist Convention's attempt to dictate policy in such areas as governance, creationism and campus newspaper content. " Now the Missouri Baptist Convention has decided to withdraw all funding.

Agape Press approvingly reports:

"We want to send a very clear message in this culture that we live in that the Missouri Baptist Convention has absolutely defined itself -- and we're defining ourselves by the inerrant Word of God -- [and that] serious departures from biblical standards will never be tolerated," [Kenny] Qualls [The Missouri Baptist Convention's associate executive director] says. ... "All through this process, we met [and] had discussions, and we tried to get the leadership of William Jewell to take a stand based on scripture on the issues of family, on the issues of morality, on the issues of homosexuality -- and we never heard a single stand by any trustee or by [anyone] in leadership of that university," he says.

Of course, the Missouri Baptist Convention has a responsibility not to provide funding to projects that its membership regards as contrary to the mission and purpose of the Convention - so this move is not only not surprising, but should have been expected (and William Jewell trustees seem to have been expecting it, cutting expenses and recruiting more students over the past three years).

What is important about this incident is that it reveals that Southern Baptists are not all monolithic in their views. Not all of them want to promote creationism and attack homosexuality. Whatever their personal beliefs on such matters, they aren't necessarily willing to dictate what others believe, read, and hear. There is hope for them yet, I think.

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