SocraticGadfly: Southern Baptist fundamentalism drives away colleges and universities

July 22, 2006

Southern Baptist fundamentalism drives away colleges and universities

Kentucky’s Georgetown College is the latest to bolt , in this case over a demand by the head of the Kentucky Baptist Convention that it hire a biblical literalist in the religion department.

Kentucky may not quite be Alabama, but it’s not the most liberal area of the country, and is probably about dead-center among areas with a fairly large Southern Baptist Convention presence. And, Georgetown College is not a major university, unlike former SBC-affiliated

Here’s the bottom line, in many ways:
David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, put it more starkly. “The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist form is incompatible with higher education,’’ Professor Key said. “In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you’re searching for truths.’”

Related issues include Georgetown wanting to establish a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and the requirements of that group re academic freedom.

But, it’s more than academic freedom, it’s political freedom in general.
“We don’t want to cut our ties,’’ said R. Alton Lacey, president of Missouri Baptist University, which has been fighting the Missouri Baptist Convention in court since 2002 over who controls the university’s board. “We just don’t want the conventions politicizing our boards.’’

Of course, anybody who’s been involved with collegiate instruction or governance knows that academic politics can get pretty fierce and draw out the long knives, whether at state colleges, state universities, secular colleges and universities, or affiliated or nonaffiliated religious schools.

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