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William Jewell debates adding homosexuals to bill of rights

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The student senate at William Jewell College are debating whether to add the phrase “sexual orientation” to the anti-discrimination portion of the Baptist school’s student bill of rights. The action is the latest in a series of pro-homosexual activities on the campus of the Missouri Baptist Convention institution.

“There was a threat made against a homosexual student on campus, that student was forced to leave campus for a number of weeks because he or she did not feel safe,” said B.J. Cardin, the author of the proposed change in a interview with KansasCityChannel.com.

The measure must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the student senate and then will be considered by the entire student body. It would not have an impact on official school policy, said Rob Eisele, the school’s director of communications.

“If it is approved it would simply be an expression of the students’ expectations of the college and would not influence policy,” Eisele said, noting there is no policy in support of or opposed to homosexuals.

The lone policy issued by trustees was in 1998, noting that they would neither support nor recognize a homosexual support group.

Eisele said the enrollment of homosexuals at the school is not really an issue. “We feel that a liberal arts environment is open to debates from all views,” he told Baptist Press. “We encourage students to follow the liberal arts tradition.”

Eisele acknowledged that the school would not know what to do if a student was engaged in homosexual activity on campus. “As I said, the only policy we have is about not supporting a homosexual support group on campus,” he said.

Eisele said reports of a homosexual student being threatened are “unsubstantiated. If it were the case, we would take appropriate action.”

Students interviewed by KMBC television supported the initiative. “A Christian campus, Christian college should try to embrace all people and not discriminate against anybody,” said William Jewell student Nick Ruble.

While the college may not have initiated the debate on homosexual orientation, it did sponsor a Nov 7 movie about a middle-aged homosexual man and a Marxist. “Fresa y Chocolate,” was shown during William Jewell’s International Film Series. “Their friendship develops despite official intolerance of homosexuality and it soon withstands that short-sighted policy,” the film review states.

The International Film Series is under the direction of Marc Cadd, a German professor at William Jewell College who made headlines in 1998 when he helped students request formal recognition of a homosexual-lesbian group on campus.

Cadd’s efforts led to the school’s trustees adopting the policy against the group’s formation.

The Hilltop Monitor, the campus newspaper, endorsed the proposed group in a 1998 editorial written by student Natalie Nimmer promoting tolerance.

She noted the school had a long way to go “before truly accepting diversity and promoting love for all of God’s children. By speaking out for what is right and realizing all people are different, we can create a positive change that will promise tolerance, acceptance and love.”

David Clippard, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, called on the school’s administration to immediately respond to the pro-homosexual atmosphere.

“I’m shocked that this kind of thing would be debated on a Baptist college campus,” Clippard told Baptist Press. “This is not an issue of politics. It is an issue of what is morally right and wrong. Where is the obedience to Romans 1?”

Clippard said he was especially grieved that a movie involving homosexuality would be shown on campus. “With that kind of film being endorsed and shown on campus, there needs to be some severe accountability,” Clippard said, noting that William Jewell’s trustees are self-perpetuating.

“It may be a liberal arts school, but it is a liberal arts school that receives Cooperative Program dollars,” Clippard said. “I believe there needs to be some accountability to the Missouri Baptists that support them.”

In response to the lack of policies against homosexual behavior, Clippard said, “They need to establish a policy. The school must take a position. Romans 1 says we have a position in Scripture.

“It appears they are open to a lot more things than Scripture permits us to,” Clippard said. “With films like this being shown and students siding with homosexuals, that’s something that should drive the administration and the trustees to make an official policy.”

Kenny Qualls, the elected president of the Missouri Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press the school should not tolerate homosexuality. “The call of every born-again believer in love is not to be politically correct, but to be biblically correct,” Qualls said. “The Bible is clear on the issue of homosexuality. We love the offender, but we hate the offense. Proverbs said that let all who love God hate evil.”

Qualls said there is an obvious trend toward support of the homosexual lifestyle at William Jewell. “I am totally opposed to an openness of embracing homosexuality on a Baptist school campus,” he said. “We need to love all people, but we do not compromise on the Word of God.”

Qualls and Clippard urged Missouri Baptists to contact the school’s administration and trustees and let them know “that this clear falling away from the teachings of the Bible is not acceptable.”

“It’s not a conservative or liberal issue; it’s a right and wrong issue,” Qualls told Baptist Press.

“If the typical Missouri Baptist in the pew becomes aware that activities like this are going on, there would be a flood of rejection. I know that people in my church would not send their students there.”

In related matters:

— U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan, one of two Southern Baptist senators to be defeated in the 2002 elections, was the school’s 2002 commencement speaker. During her campaign, Carnahan, a Democrat, was noted as a pro-choice and pro-homosexual candidate.

— Paul Duke, a key spokesman for the pro-homosexual faction within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, delivered the school’s 2002 baccalaureate address.

Duke is a former member of the CBF’s Coordinating Council and New Testament professor at the CBF-supported Mercer School of Theology.

He wrote a two-part series titled, “Homosexuality and the Church” and led a 1994 CBF “Pre-Assembly Institute” by the same title, according to the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association. When asked during a question-and-answer session about the “rite and ceremony of [homosexual] marriage,” Duke stated his “broad support” for the union of homosexual couples but noted his personal preference to reserve the word “marriage” for heterosexual couples.

— A William Jewell psychology professor presented a professional paper titled, “Staying in the Closet Versus Coming Out: Relationships Between Communication About Sexual Orientation and Work Attitudes.” The paper hypothesized that “closeted” homosexual workers will experience more negative work attitudes than will either “openly” homosexual or heterosexual workers.

Qualls maintained that the situation at William Jewell is an example of what happens when the convention is not allowed to select trustees. “While we work with William Jewell, we do not pick their trustees. The trustees do not have accountability with the Missouri Baptist Convention.”

Baptist Press attempted to contact William Jewell President David Sallee twice for comment. However, Eisele said the president did not have time in his schedule.

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  • Todd Starnes