This message originally posted at a number of
Internet Sites and Newsgroups
in early Fall of 1997.
SBU: A SACRED TRUST?
WHAT WOULD MICKEY SAY, DR. ELLIFF?!
At the beginning of the Fall Semester, a petition will be circulated calling
for immediate action by the Southern Baptist Convention, the Missouri Baptist
Convention, and the general public to boycott Southwest Baptist University
in Bolivar, Missouri due to its immoral, deceptive, and unethical business
Documented evidence will be made available supporting allegations of
a pattern of deceptive, unethical and unprofessional management by SBU
officials, faculty, nursing and legal staffs, including:
*the depraved indifference of SBU and Missouri Baptist officials
to the health and safety of students, faculty, and their progeny;
*document falsification and/or tampering; insurance irregularities;
*the abuse of power and political influence; conflict of interest;
*and conspiracy to deceive and withhold relevant information from
government officials, students, parents, and the general public
pertaining to repeated indoor, daytime fumigation of highly toxic
pesticides applied by, among others, Richard Bakkum, an admittedly
Evidence will also be presented at the Missouri Baptist Convention on
October 27-29, 1997 in Springfield, Missouri regarding these and other
breaches of public trust and ethical business and professional conduct,
*the collaboration of SBU officials with local businesses and city, county,
and state officials in attempting to malign, menace, and injure individuals
who oppose SBU policies;
*the abuse of administrative and faculty authority;
*the improper use of state and federal grant and loan programs;
*probable violations of the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act
(FERPA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Missouri Pesticide
Use Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodentcide Act
*the irresponsible and pernicious influence of several local churches,
pastors, and deacons in SBU business affairs;
*the harassment of female, minority, and disabled students;
*and the intimidation and denigration of individuals with differing
insights and opinions by the SBU staff and administration.
Last year, Dr. Thomas Elliff, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention,
appeared on national television declaring that a secular business, the Disney
Company, had violated a "sacred trust" by adopting what the Southern Baptist
Convention considered immoral business practices.
Again this year, Dr. Elliff stated that the Southern Baptist Convention
was seeking to uphold "God's standards" of business practice and
morality by boycotting Disney and their affiliates.
While many debate the validity and wisdom of the Southern Baptist
Convention's stand in the Disney matter, few would argue that it is
imperative that the Southern Baptist Convention, its affiliates,
universities, and Dr. Elliff, the SBC President, maintain impeccable,
honest, and moral business practices themselves.
The petition requests the following eight actions:
1. The BOYCOTT OF ALL SBU PRODUCTS AND PROGRAMS,
including sports and concert events, by the general public.
2. The SUSPENSION AND WITHDRAWAL OF ALL MONIES
AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT by the Southern Baptist Convention,
its churches, and the GENERAL PUBLIC from Southwest Baptist
University until these situations can be fully investigated and
3. The RESIGNATION OF DR. THOMAS ELLIFF, former SBU Trustee
(1988-1993) and Pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Del City,
Oklahoma, as the CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTHERN
BAPTIST CONVENTION due to his participation in and/or knowledge
and concealment of this unethical conduct.
4. THE DISSOLUTION OF THE REMAINING CURRENT Southwest
Baptist University BOARD OF TRUSTEES (24 of the 50 have already
resigned) and the exclusion from future leadership of any former Trustees
found to have participated in and/or concealed knowledge of the unethical
and deceptive business practices and similar conduct which has rendered
the leadership of the SBU Trustees conflicted and corrupt.
In order to reestablish the stability of the SBU Board, the Missouri
Baptist Convention membership is asked to appoint a new nonpartisan
Board, whose members more fully reflect and incorporate the ethnic,
socioeconomic, political, gender, and geographical diversity of SBU
students, their families and communities.
5. THE DISCIPLINING OF SOME DOZEN PASTORS (former or present
SBU Trustees, employees, or supporters) FOR PARTICIPATION IN AND/OR
KNOWLEDGE AND CONCEALMENT OF UNETHICAL CONDUCT, and
several local pastors and deacons due to the severity and duration of this
6. THE COMPLETE AND UNBIASED INVESTIGATION by the membership
of the Missouri Baptist and Southern Baptist Conventions of the PATTERN
OF ETHICAL MISCONDUCT AND CONCEALMENT by the leadership
of SBU, the Missouri Baptist Convention (which owns and operates SBU)
and the Southern Baptist Convention (which is affiliated with and regularly
hires individuals formerly employed by the Missouri Baptist Convention).
As stated in the 1995-96 SBU Catalog under "Principles and Expectations"
(page 4): "Because of the prevailing moral confusion in our society, the
University must speak clearly about Christian ethical standards."
Under "Student Life--Misconduct," the SBU Student Catalog 1995-96
(page 27) details the following list of the more serious offenses
which could result in severe disciplinary action, including dismissal:
*1. "Violation of federal, state, or local laws. Any disciplinary
action imposed by the University may proceed and be in addition to
any penalty imposed by an off-campus authority.
*2. All forms of dishonesty such as ... knowingly furnishing false
information to University personnel.
*3. Lying or fraudulent misrepresentation in, or with regard to, any
transaction with the University (including, but not limited to, furnishing
false information or withholding material information from the University),
whether oral or written, including misrepresenting the truth before a hearing
of the University or making a false statement to any University official.
*4. Forgery, alteration, or misuse of any University document or record. ...
*6. Physical and/or psychological hazing or other abuse of any person
on or off the University campus, including physical or sexual assault. ...
*12. Disruptive behavior that is of serious enough nature to interfere
with the lives of other students and hinder their performance or well-being."
The petition seeks an clear declaration that the ethical standards
expected of SBU students also be mandatory requirements for the
SBU faculty, staff, administration, and Trustees and those leaders
of the Missouri Baptist and Southern Baptist Conventions who are
associated with SBU.
The petition asks the membership of the Missouri Baptist and
Southern Baptist Conventions to examine and consider the evidence
concerning the conduct of the following individuals:
ROY BLUNT~ Former SBU Trustee (1985-1993), Missouri Secretary
of State (1985-1992), President and Chief Executive Officer of SBU
(January 1993-November 1996), current Congressman of the Missouri
7th District (November 1996), and member of the Agriculture Committee.
Dr. BEN SELLS~Former Campaign Director for Roy Blunt's failed
gubernatorial bid, former SBU Vice President of Admissions and
Student Life (1992-94), and the son of terminated SBU President
and Chancellor, Dr. James Sells. Ben Sells is currently serving
as the Head of the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission
Board's New International Center for Excellence and Leadership (ICEL).
Dr. BILL LITTLE~ Former Interim Mayor of Bolivar (1996-97) and
current Chairman of the Bolivar Board of Alderman, former Deacon of
First Baptist Church of Bolivar, former SBU Vice of Academic Affairs
and current SBU Vice President for External Programs.
Dr. JOHN WHEELER~ SBU Dean, College of Education and Social Sciences.
Dr. RODNEY OGLESBY~ Present Chair for the Department of Accounting
and former Vice-President of Administration and Senior Executive Vice
President for Internal Affairs.
PAULA LIVINGSTON~ Former Administrative Assistant to SBU President
Roy Blunt. Currently SBU Administrative Assistant and Director of Major
ROBERT (BOB) GLIDWELL~ SBU Administrative Staff Director of Physical
JOHN CREDILLE~ SBU Collection Manager. Former Deacon First Baptist
Church, Bolivar and current Bolivar Alderman.
PAULA BOGART~Former SBU Director of Student Services and current
SBU Director of Residential Life.
Dr. ROSALYN SNELLEN~ Dean of College of Science and Mathematics
since August 1, 1995 and former Associate Dean and professor of Biology.
Dr. CARL HUSER~ Chair and Senior professor of the Department of Biology
and former Deacon of First Baptist Church, Bolivar.
SANDRA BROWN~ Associate professor and Reference/Service Librarian
and former President of the SBU Faculty Senate.
NANCY HODGES~Director of SBU Student Health Services.
GARY LYNCH~Served as Alumni Association President (1995-96) and
Board member for five years, Deacon of First Baptist Church of Bolivar,
Partner with the law firm (Kerry) Douglas, (Gary) Lynch, (Verna) Haun,
and (Jay) Kirksey, which acts as legal counsel for Southwest Baptist University,
the City of Bolivar, the County of Polk, Citizen's Memorial Hospital, and
the Empire District Electric Company.
RAY LEININGER~Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bolivar, Missouri
and SBU Trustee (1992-present), former head and present member of the
Bolivar Ministerial Alliance.
Certainly, others are involved, but the failure of those in authority
to set strong moral standards has created a self-serving atmosphere
of compromise which devalues the lives of others and disregards their
safety, welfare, and best interests, thereby undermining the integrity
of the university, and permitting unethical and deceptive business
practices to be viewed as tenable and viable options.
When they do well, those in leadership expect -- even demand -- that
they be obeyed, respected, applauded, and financially remunerated
for their labors. When they are culpable, should they not, whenever
possible, make amends and restitution, and then accept correction
and fitting disciplinary action?
If SBU authorities do not hesitate to imprison a student for stealing
several candy bars from an SBU vending machine, how much more
diligent should these officials be in policing the obviously injurious
and illicit actions of their own employees or contracted workers?
While discretion should be shown, it is requested that the findings
of the Missouri Baptist Convention be made public, so that parents
and other observers may have the opportunity to discern for themselves
if the standards of morality and ethical business practice demonstrated
by the Missouri Baptist Convention and Southwest Baptist University
are suitable to serve Christian students as instructive examples of
prudent, upright, and honorable business practice.
7. THE APPOINTMENT OF AN IMPARTIAL COMMITTEE by the
Southern Baptist Convention TO INVESTIGATE, REVIEW, AND MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS concerning the administrative accountability,
organizational hierarchy, and goals of SOUTHWEST BAPTIST UNIVERSITY
and OTHER SOUTHERN BAPTIST SCHOOLS and universities and to
reexamine the issues which significantly impact the effective and nurturing
education of students, including:
*the provision of a safe and healthy working, living, and learning
*the correct function of administrative and faculty authority;
*the proper role of local churches, pastors, businesses, and city,
county, and state personnel in the university community;
*the responsible implementation of state and federal grant and loan
programs, the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA),
and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act;
*sexual harassment and the appropriate treatment of female, minority,
and disabled students;
*and the threat to academic and religious freedom posed by the
debasement and intimidation of individuals with differing insights
8. THE ADOPTION OF THE USE OF THE LEAST TOXIC METHODS
OF PEST CONTROL ON ALL SOUTHERN BAPTIST PROPERTIES,
BUILDINGS, GROUNDS, and FACILITIES, including schools and
churches, especially those facilities which minister to children, young
(child-bearing age) adults, the elderly or chronically-ill, in order to
insure the health and vitality of the occupants.
Again, as quoted on page 4 of the 1995-96 SBU catalog:
"As a distinctively Christian and Baptist institution, SBU believes
it should demonstrate how the life-values commanded in Scripture
can be integrated with academic instruction. These values include
a sensitivity to the needs of the larger community; a commitment
to justice, mercy, and personal integrity; a desire for moral
growth; and a sense of mutual accountability. The moral values
of the university are expressed in ethical standards and are
guided by an understanding of Scripture and a commitment to
its authority regarding all areas of Christian faith, learning,
The entire Petition and its URL/WEB address will be posted at the
beginning of the semester.
Sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men.
-- Abraham Lincoln