I’ve written about Baylor University for the websites of Christianity Today, National Review, and American Spectator. During the struggle for control of the university a couple of years back I interviewed several of the key players and eventually wound up working in the university relations department in addition to my graduate research work for Francis Beckwith and another prof. who dislikes publicity.
Because of my scholarly interest in a battle that was essentially defined by how one felt about Baylor’s stated goal of being simultaneously Christian and a comprehensive research university, I was asked to write a chapter for a book on the topic to be published by Baylor University Press. Contributors were drawn from both sides of the controversy. I was more favorable to the vision. Others were more opposed.
Since that time, I have heard that Baylor University Press would not publish the book because it was too controversial. That was okay because Baylor University would publish the book separately from its press. Then, I heard some contributors were making unhappy noises about the book, which was really hard to understand because they had written chapters for it. After hearing the administration would still publish the book and that copies had already been printed, I have now been informed the book will not be released.
The cherry on top of this unhappy story is that a former Baylor president (not Robert Sloan, who initiated the school’s vision and was forced to resign) has written a charged email threatening those responsible for the book. He mentions his skill in psychological warfare and his willingness to release damaging information that he has passed on to some mysterious third party. The threatening email has been widely circulated. It looks like he got his way because the book has been suppressed.
The object lesson may be that academic freedom is an untrustworthy virtue. Those who cried out against Robert Sloan and Baylor’s Christian vision regularly complained that the vision would circumscribe academic freedom and Baptist freedom. They don’t like a new book — a balanced book — and have now suppressed it. There are apparently copies lying around. Will they be burnt?
More to come if there is more . . .
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