Jewell’s apparent flirtation with homosexuality is nothing new
Don HinklePathway Editor
January 28, 2003
Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series.
JEFFERSON CITY – William Jewell College’s apparent flirtation with homosexuality is nothing new. A track record of sorts exists and deserves examination.
The recent push by the student senate to include wording in the "Student Bill of Rights" prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals is just the latest in a string of disturbing developments involving the sinful lifestyle at the school that bills itself "Christian."
The decision of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board’s Inter-Agency Relations Committee to launch an "inquiry" into the situation at William Jewell is long overdue. More than 600,000 Southern Baptists in Missouri deserve some answers.
William Jewell has been frequently praised for its outstanding academic achievements by the secular news media (it was named Time magazine’s liberal arts "College of the Year" for 2001) and in large part that praise is justifiable. However, the persistent presence of homosexual activists and the creation of public platforms for them to promote their lifestyle seems odd for a school with a mission statement that proclaims, "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."
William Jewell, which is not Southern Baptist and has ignored the concerns of Missouri Baptists over homosexuality while continuing to accept their Cooperative Program dollars, seems to have developed an almost infatuation with the controversial issue since the late 1990s. William Jewell administrators have defended the school, saying the news media (usually supportive of such things) have unfairly implied that a visible and active debate is raging on the campus. Support for homosexuality will naturally arise in a liberal arts setting, "where a part of the school’s mission is to uphold the standards of free inquiry, fairness and understanding," said Ray Jones, William Jewell’s executive director of college relations told Baptist Press in a June 23, 1998 article. And, he noted, "students cannot be artificially isolated from people or ideas."
Scripture clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Orthodox Christianity has long affirmed homosexuality as a sin. There is no need for inquiry here. The matter is settled. Homosexuals, who should never be mistreated, are in need of Jesus and THAT should be our message, not one of "understanding" or "toleration."
Perhaps a good place to begin tracing the history behind the homosexual controversy at William Jewell is with a March 24, 1996 article in The Joplin Globe that questioned Missouri Baptists’ views regarding homosexuality. The article was prompted by remarks made by Rev. Marsha Fleischman, a pastoral staffer at Broadway Baptist Church in Kansas City, while testifying before the Missouri House of Representatives on a bill that would have legalized sodomy between people of the same sex.
"I come as an ordained Southern Baptist minister," she reportedly told the House committee. According to the Globe article, Fleischman’s church, "` … has been greatly blessed by the creativity of our gay brothers and lesbian sisters.’ She said her church is not in the local Baptist association, but is a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)."
Of course neither the MBC nor the SBC ordain women as pastors, nor do they view homosexuality as anything other than sin.
Fleischman’s remarks caused the MBC Executive Board on April 9, 1996, to unanimously reaffirm a 1993 MBC resolution opposing the homosexual lifestyle. A copy — along with a letter – was sent to every Missouri lawmaker.
One year later Fleishman was one of two "pro-homosexual" speakers brought in to "testify" before students and faculty at William Jewell. According to the March 27, 1998, issue of the William Jewell student newspaper, The Hilltop Monitor, "William Jewell College hosted a forum on homosexuality that sought to answer questions about what the Bible really says about gay and lesbian issues. The forum was a follow-up on a similar discussion held in October and, like the previous meeting, was very emotional. The forum featured four guest speakers who each gave an approximately 10-minute presentation and answered questions from the audience. The two pro-gay and -lesbian speakers, Rev. Paul Smith and Rev. Marsha Fleischman, were provided by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; both are on the ministerial team at Broadway Baptist Church."
The student newspaper went on to say that Dr. Marc Cadd, assistant professor of German and director of William Jewell’s Center for Educational Diversity, organized the event. Approximately 120 students, faculty and members of the community attended in what was later described as an "unintentional" pro-homosexual majority.
During his presentation, Smith reportedly started with "an apology to the gay community for the undue suffering that society places upon homosexuals." Smith continued, "I want you to hear a Southern Baptist preacher say, I’m sorry for the condemnation."
Smith admitted to being homosexual, telling the Jefferson City Post-Tribune in a June 23 article that he is the only openly gay Southern Baptist pastor that he knows of, and that God created him that way. Smith made his sexual orientation known while leading a protest outside Pleasant Valley Baptist Church which was holding a Focus on the Family "Love Won Out" conference. The conference was to help people understand what causes homosexuality and how to prevent it.
A few weeks after the March 1998 homosexual forum at William Jewell, Cadd announced plans to "help students make a formal proposal" for official school sanction of a homosexual student organization.