Monday, January 9, 2012

Money Monday: OBU Subsidy Dwarfs the BGCO's Evangelism Budget

Previous "Money Monday" posts have pointed out that the BGCO's enormous OBU subsidy starves vital ministry areas (such as college ministries and Falls Creek) of needed funds.  Even though OBU generates $40 million of annual revenue on its own and has an $80 million endowment, the BGCO still pays $2.5 million per year in order to maintain control of OBU while other ministries make due with a fraction of the amount.

Lately, the BGCO has been promoting its annual evangelism conference, to be held later this month at Southern Hills Baptist Church, a fundamentalist megachurch.  Interestingly, since pastoral and executive leadership is almost completely off limits to women in Southern Baptist life, the Baptist Messenger notes that the evangelism conference offers special opportunities for women.  Notably, women can hear a heart-warming story about a boy who died and went to heaven, then came back to life to help his parents get rich off writing a book about the ordeal.  They can also hear from something called Redeemed Girl Ministries, which helps young women learn how much fun and liberating it is to be a submissive fundamentalist woman, a topic we covered last week.

Even though evangelism is arguably the most important imperative for Southern Baptist churches, the BGCO's 2011 Financial Plan indicates that the convention only spends less than 3% of its $14.5 million budget on evangelism:

Ethnic Evangelism................................................................................$35,814
Personal Evangelism...........................................................................$156,000
Student Evangelism............................................................................$220,000
Emerging Generation Evangelism........................................................$22,900

By comparison, the BGCO spends more than 17% of its budget to control OBU -- nearly six times what it spends on evangelism.  If you apply the "Student Evangelism" sum to collegiate ministries, you are left with only 1.5% of the BGCO's budget committed to evangelism, less than a tenth of what OBU gets.

Without OBU eating up 17% of the BGCO's budget (an investment with a shockingly low return for the convention), the BGCO could literally double its evangelism budget and its entire collegiate ministry budget!

BGCO leaders try to argue that subsidizing OBU is an important part of the convention's mission.  But the truth is, if OBU was a true liberal arts college that cherished academic freedom, open inquiry, and best practices in HR ethics, the BGCO would not give it a dime.  The only reason the BGCO is even interested in OBU is because, under the present arrangement, it is free to chip away at academic freedom, squelch open inquiry, and cheerlead for shameful, unethical HR practices.

It's long past time for OBU to tell the BGCO that it can keep its $2.5 million.  Focus on evangelism.  You're good at that, and could be great with adequate funding.  Sorry, but running a liberal arts university is just not going well for you.  We'll run our own university from now on.




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