While I am on a post-denominational roll here, let me -- with a bit of a tired smirk -- point GetReligion readers toward the following Associated Press report out of Nashville, focusing on an interesting angle linked to the presidential debate tonight. Here's the top of the story:
Alcoholic drinks have been forbidden on Belmont University's campus since at least 1951. The small Christian school in Nashville has decided to make an exception to the rule when it hosts a presidential debate Tuesday.
A private school with a self-described "strong commitment to providing a Christian community of learning and service," Belmont is allowing alcohol to be served at a hospitality tent for the news media -- one of several substantial changes the college made to land the big event.
Universities that vied to host the debates had to be willing to pay $1.35 million to cover production expenses, then millions more to erect facilities, spruce up campus grounds and shuffle sports events. Some also canceled or rescheduled classes to enhance security and debate setup. The payback: instant international attention. The debates also help with a university's mission by offering opportunities for students and the community to learn more about politics and election issues. School leaders say the sacrifices and concessions are worth it.
Yeah, right. I hear you. Here comes the national press -- break out the alcohol.
Actually, that isn't what caught my attention. OK, that wasn't the main thing that caught my attention. I was struck by the fact that the AP team clearly had taken that self-described mission statement -- "strong commitment to providing a Christian community" language -- from the school's website.
So far so good. However, there is an interesting word missing from this report. Can you read between the lines of that lede and spot the missing logical fact?
As a student-centered Christian community with a rich Baptist heritage, Belmont University upholds the following core values as essential to intellectual, spiritual, personal and corporate life:
Integrity Inquiry Collaboration Service Humility
However, the university's values statement has, in fact, dropped any use of the B-word.
I do not think that this seriously flaws the AP story. I am just curious. Did the school, in its dealing with the press on this national-level story, avoid any use of the word "Baptist," especially in light of the university's often bitter battles with Tennessee Baptists in the past decade or so? This is, after all, an angle that the Nashville Tennessean managed to get at the top of its own story about the location of the debate.
When the national spotlight turns to Belmont University for its presidential debate Tuesday, it will be a result of years of unprecedented growth and unforeseen struggles at a school that has redefined its place in Nashville.
Belmont administrators have made the debate one of the school's loftiest goals during nearly a decade of rapid expansion that has resulted in a quick rise for Belmont in local and national prominence. But the changes have not come without growing pains, including a protracted split from the state Baptist convention and a battle with a nearby neighborhood over athletic facilities.
What's my point? I am not sure. I think this says something about how Belmont is presenting itself. Maybe. At the same time, try to imagine AP hitting a Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish or Mormon school and not getting the identity fact straight. I mean, Belmont is still some kind of Baptist school. Right?