Sunday, May 20, 2012

From the Archives: Diversity at OBU

During the week of April 9, we took a look at diversity (such as it is) at OBU.  There's a bit of a disconnect between OBU's mission to "equip students to engage a diverse world" and the rather spectacular lack of diversity on campus.  We looked at four different categories of diversity, and commented that there is room for improvement if OBU is serious about its stated desire for its graduates to engage a diverse world.

On the theology front, OBU obviously has a commitment to its Baptist heritage.  But that theological heritage is wider and deeper than what passes for orthodoxy in chapel, campus ministry, and OBU religion classrooms.  I went a little off-message during Holy Week with some of my personal theological perspectives.  But Veronica made a strong argument on Easter Monday that OBU should not only tolerate but actually encourage theological diversity, since diversity so clearly characterizes the Protestant theological tradition -- yes, even among Southern Baptists (particularly before the Fundamentalist Takeover).  It's hard to seem serious about "equipping students to engage a diverse world" when you push moderates out, reject brilliant female scholars, hire religion faculty exclusively from the ever more insular world of SBC seminaries, and attempt to enforce rigid fundamentalist doctrinal requirements on faculty hires throughout the rest of the university -- all things Provost Norman has forced, to our detriment, on OBU in the past few years.  I would also submit for his consideration that bringing "Christian apologetics" and "worldview classes" to OBU only makes our own school more insular (if that's even possible) and less able to "equip students to engage a diverse world."

With respect to chapel speakers, Veronica's post speaks for itself.  If you're a SBC or BGCO political climber with a penis and a doctorate from a SBC seminary, your odds of being invited to speak in Raley Chapel are pretty decent.  There are obviously a lot of political considerations involved.  OBU seems to have an interesting little identity politics/affirmative action system in place with Women's Day, Native American Heritage Day, and African American Heritage Day to make sure that students hear from more than just middle-aged white male SBC seminary professors and middle-aged white male SBC seminary-educated large church pastors.  Of course, making chapel compulsory guarantees an audience for our visiting dignitaries.  And I'm sure it pleases the Lord, who according to the Scriptures delights in compelled worship... or something.

Save OBU steers clear of politics and social issues.  But on April 11, Veronica took a look at Soulforce's visit to OBU's campus a street corner near OBU's campus.  Soulforce is an organization committed to ending spiritual violence against God's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered children.  It periodically visits colleges that enforce compulsory heterosexuality, as OBU does.

I contributed a post on race at OBU and in the SBC generally.  This was one of my favorites to research and write.  Take heart, white Baptists.  Sometimes you just have to be able to laugh at yourselves.

Diversity at OBU: Theology
Diversity at OBU: Chapel
Diversity at OBU: Social Issues
Diversity at OBU: Race

Maybe OBU should just drop the line from its mission about "equipping students to engage a diverse world."  But if we're serious about it, we have a long way to go on several fronts.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jacob I read more differnt theological persuasions at SWBTS and studied more differnt views than we did at OBU. Were the profs at SWBTS more conservative yes but they had us read the other side in a lot of classes


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