A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Baptist College Embraces Christian Nationalism

Located in south Georgia, halfway between Macon and Savannah, Brewton-Parker College is Christian institution owned by the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention and operated by a GBC elected Board of Trustees. Established as a 4-year college in 1986, Brewton-Parker's student body grew from 1,200 in 1983 to 2,230 in 1994. After ten years and a financial crisis, Brewton-Parker College boasted over 1100 students with an average SAT score of 905 among 182 first time freshmen. Over 50% or 625 of Brewton-Parker students are Baptist.

Despite the Takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, Brewton-Parker College refused to embrace fundamentalism and remained a moderate Baptist institution well into the 90's. However, Brewton-Parker took a turn towards the F word in 1998 when trustees elected by the GBC selected David Robert Smith, ironically a self-described moderate Texas Baptist, to serve as the school's 14th President.

Slowly but surely, David Smith began to infect Brewton-Parker with the incurable disease of fundamentalism. After moderate Shorter College split from the Georgia Baptist Convention in 2002, the GBC demanded that Brewton-Parker conform to their narrow fundamentalist agenda. In response to their demands, David Smith declared himself an inerrantist (for the first time) in his opening convocation address in the fall of 2002.

Four months later, David Smith stripped the moderate Chair of the Division of Religion and Philosophy Department of his title and committee positions. The following year, Smith refused to offer a contract to the lone moderate in the Brewton-Parker Religion Department.

The Takeover was finally complete.

Familiar story, just different characters, right?

After watching up-close and personal the Georgia Baptist Convention and Brewton-Parker's courtship, engagement, and marriage to Fundamentalism - I asked myself, what next??

Christian Nationalism was next. David Barton was next.

On April 28, 2003, David Barton addressed the graduating class of Brewton-Parker College upon David Smith's request.

David Barton is a Christian Nationalist.

Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founding fathers were devout evangelical Christians who never intended to create a secular republic. Christian Nationalists hold to the belief that America once was and should again become a Christian Nation. Separation of Church and State, according to Christian Nationalists, is a fraud "perpetuated by God-hating subversives."

The iconography of Christian Nationalism conflates the cross and the flag. It "claims supernatural sanction for its campaign of national renewal and speaks rapturously about vanquishing the millions of Americans who would stand in its way." (Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming)

A self-taught historian, David Barton is the premiere Christian Nationalist. For years, Barton has made a living attacking the principle of separation of Church and State, a principle that poses a serious barrier to the Christian Nationalist theocratic agenda.

David Barton also serves on the board of advisers of The Providence Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist oriented organization, though he is not identified as a Reconstructionist by most.

Christian Reconstructionism is a political theology whose proponents argue that the United States should become a Christian theocracy under "Biblical Law." In addition to replacing the Constitution with the 10 Commandments, Reconstructionists seek to close the prisons, reinstitute slavery as a form of punishment and require capital punishment for the following offenses: apostasy, blasphemy, incorrigibility in children, murder, rape, Sabbath breaking, sodomy, and witchcraft. (Mainstream Baptist, Talk2Action)

Unfortunately, it appears that David Smith's Brewton-Parker College has moved from mainstream Christian Fundamentalism into the ultra-nutty world of Christian Nationalism!

If David Smith and the administration of Brewton-Parker College does not adhere to a Christian Nationalist ideology - why commend and cuddle up to Barton?

Also, does the Georgia Baptist Convention endorse Christian Nationalism? Based on my experiences, I have no doubt that they do...

Note: This is the first in a two-part series.

For a detailed debunking of David Barton's revisionist claims - please see Brent Walker's critique. Brent is the Executive-Director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.


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