by William Trollinger
The headline in Christianity Today says it all: “Taylor University Still Shaken by Unsanctioned Conservative Newspaper.”
Founded in 1847, Taylor is now an independent Christian college of approximately 1900 undergraduate students located in Upland, Indiana. In keeping with its roots in the holiness branch of Methodism, all members of the Taylor community are expected to adhere to the Life Together Covenant, which prohibits (among other things) alcohol consumption, most forms of dancing, and “homosexual behavior” (see Adam Laats on the effort of evangelical colleges to “thread the needle” when it comes to homosexuality.)
To most folks outside the world of evangelical higher education Taylor seems quite conservative. But on February 21 a newsletter appeared throughout campus, in which the anonymous authors charged that Taylor was moving leftward:
We perceive a growing trend on campus of . . . permissivist views of human sexuality, hostility toward creationist perspectives, rejection of the rule of law (especially on the immigration issue), and uncritical endorsement of liberal-progressive ideals (e.g., in the form of Marxist-inspired critical race theory).
The newsletter – grandiosely entitled Excalibur, after King Arthur’s sword – was presented as “a publication of the Taylor University conservative underground.” But the newsletter produced almost immediate controversy, and within two days the school’s president, Paul Howell Haines, weighed in with a “community letter” in which he lamented that
The unsanctioned, anonymous, and suspect distribution of the publication sewed discord and distrust, hurting members of our community.
The resultant uproar has forced the publishers of Excalibur to reveal their identities: soccer coach Gary Ross, biblical studies professor Richard Smith; philosophy and religion professor Jim Spiegel; and, marketing director Ben Wehling. But as the Christianity Today article makes clear, the controversy at Taylor is far from over.
Below is a copy of Excalibur (as well as President Haines’ response), so you can read it for yourself (and if you have comments, please free to share them). In our next post we will make a few observations as to what we see here.