Does anyone remember that post I wrote a week or so ago about the decision at Duke University to push Young Life off campus because of its requirement that its officers affirm the evangelical group’s teachings on LGBTQ issues?
I know that these stories keep popping up every now and then and it’s hard to keep it all straight in your mind.
Journalists often have trouble with the fine details, as well. Lots of editors seem to think these battles focus on random corporate “policies” as opposed to “doctrines” built on centuries of Christian traditions about the Bible, marriage and sex. And here is another crucial detail from that earlier GetReligion post:
Right up front, note this: Duke is a private university and, thus, its leaders have every right to define the doctrines and covenants that govern their campus. That’s true for liberal once-Christian schools as well as many traditional colleges and universities.
This brings us to those jesters in Rice University’s Marching Owl Band (MOB for short). The band’s style? Think Stanford University, only with less musical clout. The MOB motto: “The marching band that NEVER marches!”
MOB performances combine comedy riffs with bits of music. To no one’s surprise, the MOB mocked famously Baptist Baylor University the other day. Here’s the top of the Waco Tribune-Herald report:
The Rice Marching Owl Band (MOB), which describes itself as the university’s “infamously irreverent non-marching marching band,” took a shot at Baylor’s LGBTQ stance Saturday with its esoteric halftime show.
The band formed the outline of a Bear, performed a Star Wars-like lightsaber battle, then ended its routine by spelling out the word “Pride” while students holding rainbow flags joined in and the band played "YMCA" by the Village People. Baylor has been in the news this year for its denial of a charter for LGBTQ student groups, as it “affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality,” according to an official university statement.
Moving on to click-bait land.
One would assume that a publication specializing in coverage of higher education — take Inside Higher Ed, for example — would understand some of the finer points of this conflict. Take, as previously mentioned, the fact that private universities — left and right — are voluntary association and have the right to create campus covenants for students and faculty.
However, someone in the aggregation team at Inside Higher Ed saw this story and saw a chance to fight the real enemy.
That led to this headline: “Rice's Band Tackles Baylor's Homophobia.” Here is the top of that chunk of aggregation:
The two Texas universities' football teams played each other Saturday; at halftime, the Marching Owl Band formed the word "pride" on the field while waving rainbow pride flags and playing "YMCA" by the Village People, reports the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Wait a minute. Did Baylor’s administration really release a statement pinning the snarky term “biblical notions” on the university’s teachings on marriage and sexuality?
“Notions” goes way beyond a vague word like “policies.” Here’s the Merriam-Webster online definition:
… an individual's conception or impression of something known, experienced, or imagined
So centuries of Christian doctrine is the stuff of an individual’s imagination, or something like that?
The other problem here is that I cannot find a Baylor document containing the words “biblical notions” — as a direct quote. Did someone just make that up?
The Inside Higher Ed blurb does link to a Tribune-Herald report that contains the following language from the Baylor administration:
“The University affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.
Raise your hand if you think that the words “biblical understanding” are not the same thing — especially inside quotation marks — as “biblical notions.”
If there is a Baylor statement somewhere online that uses this kind of dismissive language about its own doctrines, then please let me know.
Meanwhile Inside Higher Education needs to print a correction.
FIRST IMAGE: From the Rice MOB Twitter account.