After a very bad week at Baylor, good news for president's vision of Christian higher education
What a way to end the week at Baylor University.

It began with three former chairmen of the university's Board of Regents calling for the resignation or firing of President Robert Sloan, saying he could no longer "lead, inspire and unite Baylor's stakeholders in performance of the university's mission." One of the ex-regents told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that Sloan's "pious" attitudes driven by "evangelical Christianity" may be blinding his judgment, suggesting that the hiring of now-discredited basketball coach Dave Bliss was all about religion. But, the regent said, the call for Sloan's ousting had nothing to do with the recent basketball team scandals.

That was followed Monday by a similar letter from five current members of the Board of Regents, also calling for Sloan to leave. While in theory continuing to support Sloan's Baylor 2012 plan to make the school a top-tier research university—the only major evangelical Christian research university in the country—the regents backed off from the way it's turning out. "Implementation of the vision, including the establishment of a dual faculty system, what some have perceived as an emphasis on research to the detriment of teaching, heavy and uneven-handed methods in seeking a particular kind of Christian professor, a shift to bonded indebtedness rather than a pay-as-we-go plan of campus construction and exorbitant tuition increases have alienated a broad spectrum of Baylor alumni," they wrote.

That night, an anonymous treatise began circulating criticizing Sloan as scholar and administrator. Its release was clearly timed to do maximum damage at Tuesday's meeting of the Faculty Senate. Its influence there is unclear, but the panel voted 26-6 in favor of a scurrilous motion that said, in part:

Dr. Sloan's presidency has produced a chilling work environment, a climate characterized by distrust, anxiety, intimidation, favoritism, as well as profound concerns about the sanctity of academic freedom and professional standards. But above all else, this climate is marked by fear -- fear of losing one's job, one's hope for tenure, a promotion, a pay raise, or a friend, over an opinion or activity that might be labeled as "disloyal" or "not mission-friendly" by a representative of the administration.

That was a vote that represented many old-line faculty hired before Sloan and Baylor 2012. Other faculty, especially tenure-track scholars ambitiously recruited from top Christian schools around the country, rallied in support of Sloan.

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"There are quite a few more than 26 people standing on these steps," assistant professor of philosophy Scott Moore told hundreds of faculty, staff, and students, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. Students rallied twice this week in support of the president. (Though the student newspaper editorialized against the president.)

The real vote that mattered, however, came today.

"Following a Friday meeting of Baylor's badly divided, 36-member board of regents, regent chairman Drayton McLane Jr. announced the 54-year-old president would continue overseeing the world's largest Baptist university," says the Tribune-Herald.

Then in the next sentence, reporter Brian Gaar writes, "The vote to reaffirm Sloan's leadership was 31-4."

That's "badly divided"? Let's do the math here: Fewer regents voted for Sloan's removal than signed a letter earlier this week calling for such an action.

In response to the vote, Sloan thanked the board members for their support and reiterated his promise to make Baylor "the world's greatest Christian university."

Had the board voted the other way, it could have been a major blow to Christian higher education and dreams of a "Protestant Notre Dame." Plus, who knows how a new president with less commitment to such a vision might have treated all those new faculty members who left senior positions at places like Wheaton, Calvin, and Westmont, to move to Waco.

This is very good news indeed.

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  • Also: Minister slams Jogi for conversions | Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Dilip Singh Ju Dev assailed Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi for ''illegal'' conversions to Christianity in the state and charged him with ''acting as a foot soldier of the churches'' (Sify News, India)

  • Chinese dissident in El Paso | Zhang Boli, a major figure in the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising who is now a pastor in Maryland, testified Tuesday in front of an El Paso immigration judge on behalf of a member of his church who was captured in January while traveling through El Paso without immigration documents (El Paso Times)

Anglican woes:

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  • Deans resign over gay service cancellation | Two senior clergymen have resigned as area deans in protest at a decision by Manchester Cathedral to cancel a service for gay clergy (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Also: Manchester Cathedral could face legal action | The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement is considering taking legal action against Manchester Cathedral over the chapter's withdrawal of permission to use the cathedral for its conference service (The Church of England Newspaper)

  • Church officials 'not bullied' | Anglican bishop's representative says North Vancouver parish is politically divided (Vancouver Sun)

  • Priest resigns, cites gay bishop as reason | "I can no longer submit to the heretical authority in the Episcopal Church," says Steven R. Randall (The Washington Times)

  • Cleric appeals to Christians | Bishop Julius Kalu of the Anglican Church of Kenya Mombasa Diocese has urged Christians not to leave the church over the US gay bishop controversy (The East African Standard, Nairobi)

Promise Keepers, post-McCartney:

Politics and law:

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  • Christians a force in Fresno races | Given the widespread media attention paid to campaign politics, it's amazing how little light has been shed on the ballot-box muscle of Fresno's evangelical Christians (Bill McEwen, The Fresno Bee)

  • Church leaders, media raise concealed-carry concerns | Some church leaders are concerned that a measure to allow Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons could bring guns into their houses of worship (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

  • When religion and state power collide | Who cares whether a plastic donkey and a baby Jesus are placed inside or outside the school? Many Americans do. (Gavin Esler, The Scotsman)


  • Archbishop challenges critics of faith schools | Faith schools offered not "theological brainwashing", but the possibility of asking "deeper and harder questions about self and society" (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Also: Archbishop backs Muslim schools | Dr Rowan Williams said faith schools were "nothing to apologise for" and that they had fallen out of favor following the New York terror attacks (BBC)

  • Critics of biology textbooks draw on think tank | The Discovery Institute, based in Seattle, is trying to persuade the State Board of Education and others around the nation to adopt biology textbooks that point out "weaknesses" in Darwin's theory (Houston Chronicle)

  • Vouchers incite far-flung fight | Nationwide opposition to D.C. plan makes for close vote (The Washington Post)

Church life:

  • Outpouring of Spirit | First- and second-generation immigrant youth are the fastest-growing segment of the Indian Pentecostal community in the United States (Newsday)

  • Church sullied by secret porn film | A bishop will have to re-bless weddings that took place in an Italian village church after it was discovered it had been used as a location for a porn film (BBC)

  • Ironman in the pulpit | For 75 years, the Rev. Gabriel Hardeman has spoken the Word as an AME preacher (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Pray and pay | A Manhattan church sells advertising space (Naomi Schaefer, The Wall Street Journal)

Missions and ministry:

  • DR Congo's mission of mercy | Missionaries were the first to respond to reports of tribal clashes between Hema and Lendu militias in Bunia (BBC)

  • Santa suit for Jesus | A poster depicting a Nativity scene in which the infant Jesus is dressed in a shockingly red Father Christmas-style suit and hat is to be used to encourage churchgoing this (Daily Telegraph, London)

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  • Also: Campaigners set for Christmas cracker | The Christian advertising group which depicted Jesus as Che Guevara is set to cause more controversy with a Christmas campaign featuring the infant Jesus dressed up as Santa Claus (The Guardian, London)

  • Her ministry reaches millions | Evangelist Joyce Meyer brings her practical style of preaching to Metro Detroit this weekend (The Detroit News)

  • Stone age meets church in Indonesian Papua | Traditions have come up against Christian missionaries, tourism and a government in Jakarta bent on modernization (Reuters)

  • Southern Baptist agency trims staff | Eliminated 31 positions and laid off seven employees from its North American missionary agency because of rising costs and slumping offerings (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Planting the seeds of faith | Many area religious groups are spreading the Gospel this week at the York Fair (York Daily News, Pa.)

Religious liberty:

Ten Commandments:


  • Confronting grief, not burying it | Over the passage of time, the appetite for civic commemorations for the dead may fade, but religious rituals remain and, psychologists say, help sustain the living (The New York Times)

  • Christianity faces bleak future in UK: Survey | Half the population was unable to name any of the four New Testament gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. There are almost as many practising Muslims (750,000) as practicing Christians (one million) (, India)

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  • Derided tomb earns more reverential study | The site was thought to be the crypt of King David's son Absalom. Now some say it may be that of John the Baptist's father (Los Angeles Times)

  • Tunnel's age tied to biblical account | A Jerusalem conduit is dated to the time of King Hezekiah, who tradition says was the builder (Los Angeles Times)

  • An old-style fundamentalist | Francis of Assisi is a much different sort of Christian fundamentalist than we might associate with the modern version (Bob Hudak, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


Interfaith co-operation:

Pop culture:

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Other stories of interest:

  • Cross at ground zero draws complaints from atheist group | "This is a Christian religious advertisement, and allowing it to stay there is an insult to everyone who doesn't believe in that particular religion," says American Atheists president (Associated Press)

  • 'Well, I can hear the difference' | Choirgirls' voices are indistinguishable from choirboys', according to scientists. Not to my trained ear (Aled Jones, The Guardian, London)

  • Secular and spiritual under one roof | An unusual building — part residence, part commercial space, part church, part concert hall — is soon to rise in the polyglot community of Elmhurst, Queens. (The New York Times)

  • KOCE to pick from 5 bids | The highest bids so far have come from two religious broadcasters; Daystar Television and Trinity Broadcasting (Los Angeles Times)

  • Religion news in brief | Bartholomew I has called for Turkey to change its requirement that only Turkish citizens can become patriarch, Episcopal Church's head warned Philadelphia bishop not to defrock outspoken priest, and other stories (Associated Press)

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  • Clergy wants state to downsize vehicles | It's already happened, officials say (Detroit Free Press)

  • Inside the dominion of an insular church | The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith rarely crops up on scholars' radar screens, but its long, sometimes strange history in the region lends mystery to what goes on inside (Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • History spurned | The Middle East is tough to occupy, as Bush would know if he'd really studied the Crusades (James Reston Jr., Los Angeles Times)

  • Holy cow! Hirst turns to religion | Damien Hirst unveiled his first solo exhibition for eight years yesterday and demonstrated that he has not yet exhausted his repertoire of things to do with dead cows, dead flies or even dead butterflies (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Attorneys want charge dismissed again | Catholic priest Henry Krawczyk, accused of furnishing alcohol to Gaines shortly before the 19-year-old wide receiver crashed through a ceiling of a Homestead, Pa., church, was recharged with involuntary manslaughter on Wednesday, two days after deputy coroner Timothy Uhrich threw out the charge, ruling that Krawczyk couldn't have foreseen the possibility of the accident when he hosted the June 17 cookout (The Washington Post)

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