April 22, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board has asked William Jewell College (WJC) to clarify its positions on homosexuality and “Christ-dishonoring presentations such as the Vagina Monologues.”
The board took the action at its April 15 meeting at the Baptist Building after hearing a report from its Interagency Relations Committee.
The Interagency Committee began looking into the William Jewell situation after it was reported late last year that a pro-homosexual agenda was evident on the Liberty campus and that the school had authorized an on-campus presentation of the sexually-explicit “Vagina Monologues.”
The Interagency Committee report outlined how the school had stonewalled attempts by the committee to obtain information about the school’s policies regarding homosexuality, other forms of immorality and the school’s stand on the first 11 chapters of Genesis.
William Jewell trustees had voted to deny a request for information from the Interagency Committee earlier this year.
The Executive Board agreed to send what may be the final request to William Jewell President David Sallee and the William Jewell trustees after discussing the controversy for more than an hour in closed session at its April 15 meeting.
A report provided to Executive Board members detailed some of the requests made by the board and William Jewell’s responses. For example:
• Request: Provide a list of WJC professors and trustees, their home church and boards or committees served on other than WJC.
Response: Sallee says this information is of a personal nature and the school does not want their people to provide it.
• Request: William Jewell’s official position on homosexual orientation.
Response: William Jewell uses the same policy that the state of Missouri uses, and William Jewell does not require faculty to teach anything in particular with regard to homosexuality, promiscuity or anything.
• Request: Is there anything in the WJC student handbook that describes possible disciplinary action for people caught in any type of sexual immorality?
Response: No, because William Jewell does not have a policy against homosexuality.
• Request: The WJC mission statement says, “To be an institution loyal to the ideals of Christ demonstrating a Christian philosophy for the whole of life and expressing the Missouri Baptist heritage which is the foundation of the college. In light of this mission statement, why won’t the WJC administration and trustees take a clear stand regarding the homosexual issue?
Response: We can find lots of Christians that will take a different point of view than you do, such as Methodists and Lutherans. Which Christian point of view would the MBC want WJC to work with?
• Request: Which one does William Jewell work with?
Response: We do not have a statement on homosexuality telling the students what they should or should not engage in.
• Request: Is it a fair assumption to say that academic freedom rules over the Christian principles of the Bible at William Jewell?
Response: In the area of bad taste, yes. In the area of vulgar language, yes. But WJC is not sure that it would classify vulgarity and bad taste in language in the category of “Christian principle.”
• Request: What are guidelines for selecting WJC trustees?
Response: There is no discussion about their theological beliefs. No questions are asked about their personal relationship to Christ. They are asked about their involvement in their local church.
• Request: Would William Jewell be willing to change its charter to allow the Missouri Baptist Convention to help select trustees?
Response: Why should we allow someone who only supplies 3 percent of our annual budget to control the college? No, we won’t do that.
• Request: How can Missouri Baptists understand that William Jewell is “distinctively Christian?”
Response: William Jewell is distinctively Christian even though they allow the student body to discuss and even possibly vote to include “sexual orientation” in their student government structure and allowing the Vagina Monologues to be performed on campus. The school believes it exemplifies a Christian environment although it may not be in the same way Southwest Baptist would do it.
It was revealed that the Interagency Committee has asked William Jewell to make a public apology for allowing the Vagina Monologues to be performed. The committee also asked the school to initiate a policy that would not allow homosexuality to be allowed, promoted or condoned in campus life.
William Jewell officials have countered that the agenda for their May board meeting is full and the next meeting is not scheduled until Nov. 14. The school committed to make an attempt to convene the William Jewell Executive Committee before July to consider the requests.
Charles Burnett, interagency chairman, said it appears to him that both William Jewell and the MBC Executive Board are firm in their stands. “For me,” Burnett said, “July is the deadline.”
In other action, the Executive Board:
– Delivered escrowed money checks to presidents of William Jewell, Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange College and the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. The money, approved for distribution at the 2002 Missouri Baptist Convention , represented payments that had been withheld from the five renegade MBC institutions after their trustee boards voted to become self-perpetuating.
– Voted to stop paying $200 to the Missouri Baptist Foundation for their participation in the Helpmate Ministry (financial planning) for pastors.
– Approved a motion to renegotiate an agreement with a Tulsa, Okla., auditing firm. After paying $13,500 for the 2002 audit, the audit firm presented another bill for $10,189 for extra work. The audit company will be asked to include “not-to-exceed” language in the new contract.
– Discussed the possibility of cancelling the Missouri Baptist Foundation’s lease if it can be shown that the Foundation violated the lease when they became a self-perpetuating agency.