A rare case of literalism on the Baptist left

Baylor University's faculty wars about whether "Christian higher education" exists and, if so, whether it is good or bad have attracted national media attention. Meanwhile, a similar showdown has been taking place on the quiet Mars Hill College campus in the stunningly beautiful North Carolina mountains just outside Asheville. The faculty and trustees have struggled a bit -- with the budget and with finding a president who was committed to "Christian higher education," but not too committed. There have been tensions over the role of campus ministers. The mountains are full of free-thinkers, you know, and Mars Hill has long been a center for the left-of-center "moderate Baptists," who are kind of like low-church Episcopalians with better preaching.

With this rather unique setting as a backdrop, consider this rather off-the-rack Fox News wire story about risky business on a Baptist campus. The story begins with a sociology professor who got caught making a promise that he could not keep.

As part of a demonstration of American cultural values, the unnamed professor offered an "A" to any student who would get up before the class and take off all his or her clothes. Much to his dismay, one student, whose name and gender were not released, did just that. . . .

"People were very upset about it," said senior Kat Marotta. "It's probably the juiciest thing that's ever come out of this campus."

The professor, who had taught at Mars Hill for over 25 years, apologized via e-mail to all the students in the class and then resigned. . . . The student won't be punished -- but neither will he or she be getting an A.

There are, believe it or not, people who believe the religion beat is boring.

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