On March 12, 2013, the Louisiana Baptist Message Editor Kelly Boggs posted an article online titled, “The Situation at LC Unfolds.” The article addresses some of the issues currently afflicting Louisina College.
Unfortunately, Boggs’ article misrepresents and misconstrues facts. Below are several instances in which Boggs fails to report factual information.
Additional speculation suggested three students whose weblog postings helped to stir up the controversy might also be a part of the closed-door discussion. Adding to the conjecture was the fact that when media representatives arrived at LC seeking comment, the day of the Feb. 25 meeting they were told the campus was closed to all news media.
The real fact of the situation is that Kelly Boggs was personally asked to leave the college campus after being on campus for only a few minutes. Why did Boggs not report this, instead making a general statement about media representatives showing up and being told the campus was closed to all news media?
Boggs was personally involved with being removed from campus and he mentions not a single word of his encounter with the LC administration’s representative. The real scandal of media being banned and removed from campus is that the Baptist state paper editor was personally asked to leave campus. However, reading Boggs’ article, no Louisiana Baptist would know that fact.
The Baptist Message sought to speak with all the aforementioned parties and, thus far, only Dr. Aguillard has spoken on the record.
Who are the aforementioned parties Boggs says he has sought to speak with? Jason Hiles, Kevin McFadden, Ryan Lister, Joshua Breland, Ken Fryer, Drew Wales, Joe Aguillard.
Two things need to be made clear.
1. Professors can only give media interviews if given permission by President Joe Aguillard. Did Boggs request permission from Aguillard to interview these men? Louisiana Baptist do not know because Boggs did not report the facts. The reader is left to assume that the professors denied an interview.
2. Boggs contacted me 3 weeks ago asking me to go on record and speak about the LC administration pursuing charges against me. I did not respond to Boggs’ request until February 25th when I spoke briefly with him on LC’s campus, before he was asked to leave. I informed Boggs that I would be willing to do an interview in the future but doing so during the administrative investigation and proceedings would not be prudent. Boggs did not make further contact with me. He did not seek an interview for this new piece.
Those who support LC’s president has (sic) also pointed to the fact the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which owns the college, is not particularly enamored by the doctrines developed in the 1500s by the French theologian and pastor John Calvin.
Boggs does not mention the historic presence of Southern Baptist Calvinism and that the first Louisiana Baptist association was founded on Calvinist doctrine (click here). He does not associate Calvinism with the founders of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, James Petigru Boyce, Basil Manly, Jr., John Broadus, and others. Nor does he associate Calvinism with Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, or Lottie Moon. Calvinism in the Louisiana Baptist Convention is associated with John Calvin, French theologian and pastor from the 16th century. Again, Louisiana Baptists do not have the facts they need to properly understand the situation at Louisiana College.
Tim Norris, pastor of First Baptist Church Livingston, responded in the comment section of one of the student’s blog posts, “I want to get along with you and other Calvinists, but not at the expense of a Calvinist agenda designed to take over La. College, or any other L.B.C., or S.B.C. entity or institution.”
Norris added, “If you meant what you said, that you love and respect Dr. Aguillard, & you care about La. College, why not admit that not only Dr. Aguillard, but a majority of La. Baptists do not want La. College to become a Calvinist‘s school …”
Boggs’ quotation of Tim Norris is particularly disappointing.
Boggs pulls the words of Tim Norris off a comment steam on this very blog. Boggs does not mention Norris’ comment came off my blog. In the very same comment stream where Norris’ “I want to get along” comments appear, Norris tells me:
You may want to blame Dr. Aguillard for the division of the school, when it is you & others who want to bring the school down if it doesn’t bend to your own beliefs. La. College is not a Calvinistic School! Why don’t you find one, take your friends, attend it, and get on with your life?
Does Boggs report Norris’ suggestion that I take my friends and leave Louisiana College? No, Boggs quotes Norris as someone who loves everyone and just wants to get along.
What is frustrating is that Boggs does not quote my response to Norris. I responded to Norris’ straw man that I am just mad Louisiana College will not be taken over by Calvinists. This is a ridiculous assertion on Norris’ part. I have called for cooperation and unity among all Louisiana Baptists at Louisiana College.
I have repeatedly called for our state convention Executive Director Dr. David Hankins to call for cooperation and unity under the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Yet, Boggs does not quote me at all in this new piece even though I have written more than anyone on the issues at Louisiana College.
I am not for any kind of exclusive takeover at Louisiana College. I am for unity and cooperation under the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Louisiana Baptists who are not online or blog readers do not have the facts.
Shawn Thomas, a former LC Board member, posted on Facebook that he was withdrawing his support for Aguillard. He added, “I call upon the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College to forego half measures, and to take decisive action to ‘right the ship’ and restore integrity to the office of President of the College we love.”
Due to health reasons Thomas recently resigned not only from the LC Board but also as pastor of First Baptist Moss Bluff. His son-in-law is one of the previously mentioned bloggers, Joshua Breland. Thomas also recently relocated to Norman, Okla.
Boggs fails to mention that Shawn Thomas was a member of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees’ leading Executive Committee. He also fails to mention that Thomas is an out-spoken non-Calvinist and longtime supporter and friend of Aguillard. Instead, Thomas is merely a Board member and father-in-law of Joshua Breland. Boggs has the facts and yet Louisiana Baptists do not have the facts to read and be properly informed.
Scott Culpepper, a 1996 alumnus of LC and professor at the school from 2007 to 2012, posted an “open letter” to the LC trustees via a blog. In the lengthy letter, Culpepper shares what he maintains were some very negative personal experiences with Aguillard.
In Culpepper’s letter he wrote, “I urge you to take decisive action to restore the academic and spiritual integrity of our college by immediately terminating the employment of Joe Aguillard.” Culpepper currently serves as associate professor of history at Drodt College in Iowa.
According to that school’s web site, Drodt is, “associated with the Christian Reformed Church” and “the curriculum is designed to give each student a complete comprehensive education from a solid, Reformed, Christian perspective.”
Boggs fails to give an account of his personal experience of being kicked off campus by the Louisiana College administration’s representative, but goes the extra mile of including the college mission statement of a former LC faculty member’s new place of employment. Boggs’ thoroughness comes off as trying to poison the well and dismiss Culpepper’s concerns because he now teaches at a Reformed college.
The announcement of a capital campaign aimed at raising $50 million could also be considered as indicative of good times. The money is specifically for needs on the Pineville campus, with approximately one-fifth of the cost being earmarked for infrastructure needs.
Boggs suggests that Louisiana College’s financial woes could be considered as indicative of good times. This is, frankly, bizarre. The fact that Louisiana College dorms and buildings constantly leak during an average rain and that hot water is absent from most buildings on campus, the fact that Louisiana College is desperately in need of money to fix basic infrastuctre is hardly indicative of good times. It would be helpful to know who is considering the financial state of LC as indicative of good times, yet no one is mentioned.
When the LC Board meets during its scheduled March 18 meeting, it will have a lot to consider, especially with controversy occurring at this time.
Boggs does not mention whether or not he will be allowed on campus during the meeting March 18-19. This would be helpful for Louisiana Baptists to know. Louisiana Baptists support both Louisiana College and the Louisiana Baptist Message through their Cooperative Program giving. If Boggs will not fully and accurately report the facts, and if Louisiana College refuses to allow its own sister organization, the Louisiana Baptist Message, to cover stories on campus, perhaps Louisiana Baptists should stop funding the Baptist Message. The Baptist Message is failing to accomplish its mission to inform Louisiana Baptists with factual and fair journalism.