Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
Georgia Baptists Gripe About GLBT Group on Mercer University Campus

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]jalendavi_lady)

The Georgia Baptist Convention may be about to cut financial ties with Mercer University over a GLBT organization.

Christian Index Article by Gerald Harris, one-time SBC Pres.

MACON — An organization to promote the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender (GLBT) agenda at Mercer University is raising eyebrows among Georgia Baptists who have begun questioning the integrity of the historically Baptist university.

The Mercer Triangle Symposium, billing itself as the university’s “GLBT Rights Student Organization,” sponsored a National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 and publicized the event in The Cluster, the campus newspaper. In addition, it published the names of 29 faculty and staff who supported the organization and its goals.


National Coming Out Day (NCOD) was born out of the March on Washington on October 11, 1987, when half a million people converged on the nation’s capitol to advocate lesbian and gay rights. The Mercer Triangle Symposium Web site proclaim that NCOD is designed “to raise the consciousness that GLBT people are everywhere and to remove the stigma that keeps people in the closet. Its purpose is to help GLBT’s be honest about their sexual orientation with family, friends and coworkers.”

When Mercer’s Public Relations Department was contacted about the organization’s “Coming Out Day” on the Macon campus, there was an immediate response that resulted in University President Kirby Godsey, Executive Vice President Horace Fleming, Senior Vice President for University Advancement Emily Myers, and Senior Assistant to the President Jim Bruner coming to the office of The Christian Index to discuss the situation.


When contacted about the Mercer Triangle Symposium meeting, GBC Executive Director J. Robert White said he was “deeply concerned to learn of the homosexual coming out day held at Mercer.

Mercer University Relations

The Mercer University administration building in Macon. Mercer has been affiliated with Georgia Baptists since its founding in Penfield in 1833 by Jesse Mercer. It moved to its current Macon campus in 1871.

“This kind of event is diametrically opposed to who we are as a Convention. This creates a conflict for Georgia Baptists who send their students to Mercer as a Georgia Baptist university believing that they will be nurtured in a Christian environment, then learn that their students are invited to attend meetings of this nature on campus.

“At the very least, on-campus meetings give the impression of approval by the administration.

White said that he had received numerous e-mails and telephone calls about the event from concerned Georgia Baptists across the state.

“The thing that concerns me most deeply is the disregard for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the students by those who promoted this event and other similar activities that apparently take place with regularity on the campus. If there was no spiritual reason whatsoever to discourage homosexuality, certainly the blight of AIDS should be adequate to surmise, ‘This is not a good thing to promote at our university.’

“Add to the physical concerns, the emotional crisis this creates for our families, to say nothing of the spiritual result of choosing to live a life of unrepentant sin, and the results can be devastating.”

Ga Baptist Site (linkie has images)
Fred Evers, pastor of Northside Church in Tifton and member of the GBC executive committee, reads a recommendation regarding the relationship of the GBC with the Georgia Baptist colleges. A task force has been formed to investigate three areas: there must be common values with a shared vision with an institution; there must be operational; and it is essential to have mutual trust between an institution and the convention.

Evers also brought a motion to end the relationship between GBC and Mercer University. The motion included three actions: that the relationship of GBC and Mercer University be discontinued; that this matter be brought before the GBC for approval at the 2006 meeting; that the executive director and president of Mercer University confer and take action as necessary to prove for an orderly discontinuance of the relationship.

Kirby Godsey, president of Mercer University, urges messengers not to sever ties with the school. He told messengers that the Cooperative Program money received from GBC is used for scholarships to Baptist students. Last year, the school tripled GBC’s funds to give $11,600,000 in scholarships to Baptist students.

Godsey said: “Mercer University has never promoted, advocated or encouraged gay or lesbian behavior. Discussion, yes, but encouragement, never.”
Messengers vote to sever GBC ties with Mercer University. The action requires a second vote at the 2006 annual meeting before the dissolution will be final. Registration at the time of the motion was 1,825.

There is some interesting historical background here involving Mercer's beloved founder Jesse.

Jesse Mercer founded two major Baptist things: Mercer University and The Christian Index newspaper.

Silas Mercer and his wife had five sons and two daughters. One of those sons, Jesse, of West Florida Baptist Association fame, holds a position of great significance in the history of the Georgia Baptist Convention having founded Mercer University and having served as an early publisher and editor of The Christian Index that is the oldest continuously published religious newspaper in the nation. - http://www.christianindex.org/859.article

The irony does not stop at the importance of Jesse to the Georgia Baptists. Not only is there the interplay of the university and the paper's common ancestry, but Editor Gerald Harris has a history with the university himself.

The Announcement of His Editorialness in The Christian Index, 2003

Harris is well known to Georgia Baptists as a pastor and denominational leader. He served as president of the convention in 1999 and has been an active member on a variety of committees, including the GBC executive committee, administrative committee, budget planning committee and nominating committee (on which he served as chairman). He also served as chairman of the literature distribution committee for the 1994 Super Bowl outreach and is a current trustee of Mercer University. [emphasis mine]

This would be bad enough and strange enough on its own. A former trustee blasting the university from a position the founder first created and filled?

It gets worse. His undergrad degree is from Mercer: "Harris holds a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University"

Edited just before posting: If he was a trustee in 2003, and the Triangle Symposium formed in 2002, he was a trustee after it formed and possibly while it formed. He should have heard something - forming a GLBT group on a primarily Christian campus rarely happens without some level of fuss. They may have known about this three years ago.

Please excuse me while I find someplace to be quietly sick about this.

EDIT: The student group was disbanded before the Georgia Baptist Convention voted: The Macon Telegraph- "Gay student support group disbands over Baptist controversy"