When I started creating this post, I was surprised to learn that OBU was not as white as I thought it was. According to the OBU website, OBU is actually only 70% white-- a number much lower than probably most of us expected.
Actually, it turns out that student-wise, OBU is doing pretty well. The US is about 64% white and Oklahoma is at about 66%. So, good job, OBU. I am pleasantly surprised.
But, perhaps that makes even more tragic my original reason for writing this post. As I have mentioned before, I spent two of my years at OBU serving on Chapel CREW-- the group of students who plans and executes chapel. And the truth is, students do actually have a lot of sway over what happens there-- so that is good.
But students do not have the final say (which is probably also good), and there are other political factors at play in who comes to speak at chapel at OBU.
One of the most interesting are three themed days which were there all four of my years at OBU and remain on the OBU chapel calendar. One of them I have already mentioned: women in missions and ministry day. The other two are like it African American heritage day and Native American heritage day.
What are the implications of the existence of these days?
First, we had already wondered on this blog why someone like Voddie Baucham was possibly asked to preach at chapel this year. Well, the OBU press release does not say that it is African American Heritage day-- but everyone knows that that day falls on the first chapel of the spring semester. So I guess it doesn't matter that Baucham is well known throughout America for being sexist-- we'll still ask him to preach at OBU because he's black and, well, it's that time of year again.
Or what about the time that a pretty well known man from the area was asked to preach on Native American Heritage day? He made an interesting statement to the tune of, "I don't preach because I'm Native American, I preach because you want me to come." Luckily, he was given a different day to come preach.
All of that to say, it may seem like these measures strengthen diversity. But to me it really seems to highlight something I said in another post: if chapel is supposed to be a place where we are all led into worship, it looks to me like the only people being asked to lead are white men in suits.
It seems like the only reason we can affirm ministers of a different color is because we give them their own day-- but otherwise it's assumed that the best preachers are white. How is 30% of OBU's student population supposed to feel about that?
And if you happen to be neither white nor male, forget it. There's no day for you.
What does all of this have to do with OBU leaving the BGCO?
One of the things I have stressed from the beginning is that BGCO politics are negatively affecting OBU. We all know that the SBC has a pretty terrible history with regards to race. The denomination was founded upon the refusal to reject slavery-- something they later apologized for, in 1995. It seems a little late to me, but maybe I'm just a cynic.
Of course, it's not that surprising from a convention whose seminary president Al Mohler once said about the split between northern and southern baptists, "What Northerners were saying is that ending slavery was more important than spreading the gospel." And that was last December. The original article has since been removed, but in the world of the internet, nothing cam be unsaid.
So with cries of "Don't let culture change the gospel" the convention that currently owns OBU has set up three days a year to make up for past mistakes against minorities. Maybe it's just me but that sounds a lot like saying, "We're not very good at seeing when we are wrong." I can only hope that in 150 years my daughter will be alive to see the SBC apology to women.
Until then, these are the kinds of politics I am tired of seeing dominating my alma mater.