For Russell Moore, whose sharp criticisms of Donald Trump voters nearly cost him his job as the public voice for America’s largest Protestant denomination, the path to regaining a prophetic platform is just beginning.
Moore started down that trail this week. After apologizing for being “unnecessarily harsh” during the campaign, he received a vote of confidence from the executive committee of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
President Trump is reportedly considering naming former Baylor University President Ken Starr to head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
The ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom monitors religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, and develops programs to promote religious freedom, according to the State Department website.
Baylor University’s former Title IX coordinator, Patty Crawford — who maintained the post during the recent campus sexual assault crisis that resulted in the ouster of president Ken Starr, football coach Art Briles, and athletic director Ian McCaw — resigned earlier this week after filing complaint against the school and refusing to sign a confidentiality agreement. Crawford's resignation came the same day two more women joined a class-action lawsuit against the school for failing to adequately address sexual assault allegations, bringing the total number plaintiffs to eight.
On Feb. 9, the day after more than 200 Baylor students, alumni, faculty, and staff gathered in front of university President Ken Starr’s campus residence for a candlelight vigil honoring the community’s sexual assault survivors, Starr released a statement on the school’s website saying, “We hear you loud and clear.”
Starr was not present for the vigil — according to an inquiry to the media communications office, he was in Washington, D.C., on university business.
His brief statement read: “You want us to continue to improve. And you want definitive, responsible actions after we receive the insights and recommendations from Pepper Hamilton. You have my word on both.”
A group of Baylor University students and alumni will gather for a candlelight vigil outside university President Ken Starr’s home on Feb. 8 in an effort to urge changes to how the school handles sexual assault.
The vigil is being organized by Stefanie Mundhenk, a recent graduate who described her own experience through the school’s Title IX process in her personal blog. Mundhenk’s account — coupled with a recent ESPN report accusing the school of mishandling cases of sexual assault by Baylor football players, and subsequent CBS Sports commentary calling on President Ken Starr to “stop stonewalling” about the rape cases — sparked outrage among Baylor alumni, many of whom responded in an open letter to the university administration over the weekend. Since the open letter was shared on Saturday, the list of signatories has risen from 50 to more than 1,300.
Should religious colleges be bound by the same union and labor rules as secular universities? Or be rated by the same criteria?
Those questions and more will be tackled by the presidents of three major universities who say they are united in supporting the values that faith-based schools bring to higher education even as they grapple with government regulations that can challenge them.
For the first time, the top officials of Baylor University, Catholic University of America and Yeshiva University will lead a discussion Feb. 4 in Washington on the “calling” of faith-based universities.
Baylor University President Ken Starr said faith-related schools are charged with helping students learn about “living life purposefully,” which he said goes beyond simply helping students get jobs and be productive citizens.
“That’s very good, but is that enough?” said Starr, who leads the world’s largest Baptist university, in Waco, Texas. “We want to take the conversation to a broader level of what is in fact the education enterprise all about at its very best, at least from our perspective.”
All three leaders see challenges to the religious freedom of their institutions from the U.S. government.
A new voice is emerging in the evangelical community, and it’s turning away from the church’s vocal opposition to homosexuality in favor of a more tolerant attitude.
Researchers at Baylor University found that 24 percent of evangelicals were “ambivalent,” meaning they support civil unions or legal recognition of gay relationships, despite harboring a moral opposition to homosexuality.
“What you have is this increase in people coming out publicly and saying, ‘I don’t want to be a part of this anti-gay rights movement as an evangelical,’” said Lydia Bean, assistant professor of sociology at Baylor and co-author of the study.
The study, “How the Messy Middle Finds a Voice: Evangelicals and Structured Ambivalence towards Gays and Lesbians,” analyzed national data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey, conducted by Gallup.
Five men who know what it means to be president of the United States shared a stage in University Park, Texas. Then the incumbent among them flew to Waco, to mourn 11 first-responders, killed in a fertilizer plant explosion in the small town of West, Texas.
All presidents try to rewrite history to burnish their brief place in it. And in his new presidential library, George W. Bush will have his turn.
Barack Obama’s legacy is still a work in progress, though even sympathetic commentators are seeing him now, in his fifth year, as too slow to act, too cerebral to brawl, and too little respected by his political enemies.
In one role, however, Obama has excelled: “Mourner in Chief” — not one of his constitutional duties but oddly important.
A fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday evening, killing at least five and injuring more than 100, according to CNN. From the report:
"Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity, but we are not ruling that out," said Sgt. William Patrick Swanton of the nearby Waco Police Department.
A more immediate question is how high the death toll will rise.
It could be between five and 15, Swanton said. Dr. George Smith, the city's emergency management system director, said it could spike to 60 or 70.
"We have two EMS personnel that are dead for sure, and there may be three firefighters that are dead," Smith said.
The puzzle here is not that readers of the Bible would tilt toward the political left. That, for me, as well as for thousands of other American evangelicals, is self-evident. Jesus, after all, summoned his followers to be peacemakers, to turn the other cheek, to welcome the stranger and to care for “the least of these.” He also expressed concern for the tiniest sparrow, a sentiment that should find some resonance in our environmental policies.
No, the real conundrum lies in the subtitle the editors of Christianity Today assigned to Franzen’s article, which was titled, “A Left-Leaning Text.” Adjacent to a picture of a Bible tilted about 45 degrees to the left, the editors added the subtitle: “Survey Surprise: Frequent Bible reading can turn you liberal (in some ways).”
The fact that anyone should register surprise that the Bible points toward the left should be the biggest surprise of all.