One of the things you hear about Southern Baptists is that dancing is verboten. As some Southern Baptists have explained, Jesus isn’t seen dancing in the Bible.
Besides, with dancing, things can get dirty on the dance floor, and that leads to sins like lust and greed, and, of course, all that is derived from—big-time college football.
At least, that’s what we’ve come to know recently about beleaguered Baylor University, the largest Baptist university in the world and touted as the oldest continuous running university in Texas.
It’s stumbling now and needs to right itself.
But I have a solution.
As far as I know, despite the mural at Notre Dame of the so-called “Touchdown Jesus,” Jesus has never been known biblically to run a spread offense.
So it seems like there’s one easy way out of the entangled mess Baylor finds itself in over its failure to implement Title IX standards throughout the university.
Last week, Baylor released the findings of the law firm Pepper Hamilton, which the school hired to conduct an independent and external review of the whole sordid mess. You can read it here.
Paying for such an investigation may sound like self-flagellation and, for some, penance enough.
But it’s not.
It’s also clear, if there was a letter grade for Baylor in a course called “Title IX 101,” it would have received a resounding “F.”
The report is especially scathing in its scrutiny of the athletic department and football team for failing to deal with sexual assault and dating violence. Indeed, the report says the university “created a cultural perception that football was above the rules.”
But that makes a remedy even easier. No need to penalize the engineering department.
So it’s simple.
Dump big-time athletics. And, if not, dump football.
Ban the jockstrap, save the soul—Baylor’s.
And if the school is not willing to go to that extreme, then go the other way and dump the pretense of being a school that is governed by its religious beliefs.
It should be plain as all get out, as they say in those parts, if anyone at the private Baptist school has the courage of their religious convictions.
Firing Frank Briles, the coach who resurrected a dead football program into a national power, just isn’t enough.
Not for the current sins of Baylor.
But at least they fired Briles, the $6 million coach.
Baylor let President Ken Starr stay on with a biblical figleaf: demotion to chancellor. (No word on the presidential portrait.)
Oh, and they’ll let him teach on “religious liberty.”
Maybe his first seminar topic will be titled “How I zealously pursued justice for Monica Lewinsky, but looked the other way when it comes to Baylor’s daughters.”
Even firing Ken Starr wouldn’t be enough.
This is a school that has lived on a second chance for the last 13 years.
In 2003, the men’s basketball team under then coach Dave Bliss brought dishonor to Baylor in the murder of player Patrick Dennehy by a teammate, Carlton Dotson. The case involved drug use and illegal payments to players.
The school was penalized by the NCAA, but allowed to keep its basketball program.
You’d think with a murder over its head, the school would be a little savvier when one comes to criminal liability.
But now the athletic department has been thrust to the head of the class when it comes to the issue that is the scourge of college campuses across the nation: criminal sexual assault.
So this Starr-Briles matter is an opportunity for the school to right itself.
Get its priorities straight. And, like it wants to do by the Southern Baptist morals it still believes in, set a good example.
It can start by getting in line with the law.
But can it?
This is a school that likes to use its religion well. In 1985 Baylor solicited and won partial exemption on Title IX, because, as Baylor’s ex-president McCall wrote, “premarital unchastity” was contrary to the religious beliefs of Southern Baptists.
Exactly what was the language Baylor objected to in Title IX?
From a letter McCall wrote to the Department of Education in 1985, it mentioned things like “treating pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy or termination of pregnancy of an unmarried woman as a temporary disability” as contrary to its ideals.
Now there’s a thought.
The unborn child has more rights, respect and protection than your actual born daughter sitting right now in a classroom at Baylor.
Something’s not right with that picture.
It can be fixed easily. If religion is so important then practice what you preach.
Baylor should forget about its new stadium. It won’t need it. Sell it to some Southern Baptist evangelist who can turn it into a super church. Let Baylor nation fund its real zealotry. Clearly, after a wimpy past the school lost its way and started salivating about sports like many other colleges.
But now Baylor knows that was just wrong. In this modern day, you can’t have football AND religion. It’s one or the other. And, in football, winning is sinning.
Can’t have that.
The time has come for the school to stay true to its mission and dump big-time sports.
Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist, author and commentator. He writes on race, culture, and politics at http://www.aaldef.org/blog