In May 2009, Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard penned an editorial to The Baptist Message about the need for like-minded Baptists to engage in a type of warfare “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world.” It wasn’t merely a rhetorical flourish. Aguillard directly accused President Barack Obama of being a “murderer,” claiming that the President was responsible for “carrying the banner” of allowing the murder of “21 babies per second.” Quoting (bold mine):
The enemy is attacking the Christian’s territory and he is doing so at an exponential pace.
The murder of our unborn is occurring at a rate of 21 babies per second!
The President of the United States is carrying the banner to continue these murders at an even faster pace and to also use our tax dollars to expand the murder overseas.
If we use Biblical truth to define our president and those in Congress as murderers – and that is what they are, murderers – as those who have perpetuated this murderous plot, will they imprison us?
That threat will not silence us! Will you stand and fight?
Here is a link to the full editorial, which was, at some point, migrated to a different page.
In the editorial, Aguillard also compared a hate crimes bill that punishes criminals who inflict physical violence against a person because of their sexual orientation as a direct attack on Christians who only seek to express God’s Word. Quoting again:
The enemy is attacking the Christian’s territory by convincing our nation that marriage is really not a sacred bond between a man, a woman and God. Rather, we are told that it is a choice between persons of the same or the opposite sex. Both choices, many maintain, are to be viewed as legitimate. . . .
Encouraged by the President, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a Hate Crimes Bill that could make it illegal for Christians to declare that what the Word of Almighty God says about the practice of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
If the aforementioned legislation ultimately becomes law, many believe that a Christian could be thrown in jail for proclaiming God’s law. Well, consider me and our faculty at LC ready for jail, for we will not bow to the lies of satan.
I only mention this because today, it was brought to my attention that he continues to preach the same message to those in the LC community, including the ridiculous line about Christians being persecuted by a bill that specifically addresses punishing violent criminals, using this bill, either ignorantly or insidiously, as a reason to “fight against the enemy.”
I’ve never met anyone who is “pro-abortion,” but it is an absolute lie to proclaim as fact, particularly from the pulpit, that “21 babies are aborted every second.” Aguillard repeated this egregiously exaggerated lie only a couple of months ago, in an address in front of the Louisiana College student body (jump to the 45 minute mark on the video). Michael D. Smith explains:
21 babies per second. That is 1,260 babies per minute, 75,600 babies per hour, 1,814,400 babies per day, and 662,256,000 per year.
The population of the United States is less than half that number. The world-wide population of women is 3,386,509,865 (www.geohive.com). The global population of childbearing women (aged 15-50) is 1,755,000,000 (www.census.gov). Therefore, if Mr. Aguillard is correct (assuming that he is talking about the number of abortions in the world, rather than just in the USA), that would mean that every year, no less than one third of all child bearing women have an abortion. However, if he is talking about women in the United States, that would mean that on average every woman in the United States would have about 9 abortions per year.
The actual number of abortions worldwide is less than 7% of what Aguillard claims, and abortions, worldwide and here in the United States, have been on the decline since 1993.
I was reared in the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria. As a teenager, I occasionally taught a small Bible Study class, and when I was in college, I double-majored in English and Religious Studies. I am not and have never been a conservative Southern Baptist and would never claim to be an expert in the Southern Baptist tradition.
I decided to post about this for a few reasons: Professor Reynoso’s letter reminded me of the importance of championing honesty above loyalty. As I said in the previous post about Louisiana College, I want nothing more than to see it succeed and excel. Many of my family members and close friends are proud graduates of Louisiana College. It’s a vitally important institution in Central Louisiana.
It’s never easy to speak truth to power, particularly when those in power believe that any criticism is evil or the result of Satan’s influence. You either agree with us, or you’re doing the work of the devil.
A few weeks ago, The Town Talk published an article about a study conducted in 2010 by Aramark that suggested Louisiana College needs to spend more than $35 million on repairing its existing infrastructure, simply to address deferred maintenance. I have no way of knowing how the paper obtained the study, but once they did, they reported on it. Quoting from Billy Gunn of The Town Talk:
Louisiana College is pursuing $10 million to produce a movie based on the 1960s sitcom “Green Acres,” adding to the tens, or hundreds, of millions of dollars the 104-year-old Baptist college is seeking in aggressive expansion beyond the Pineville campus.
All the while, buildings on campus sit needing millions of dollars in repairs, according to a study done for LC by Aramark Higher Education in a report commissioned in 2010.
The response from leaders at Louisiana College: The Town Talk received a stolen report that was still in draft form. Aguillard told The Baptist Faith that he was considering legal action against the paper and said there was a “spiritual battle” between Louisiana College and the so-called “liberal media.” If you’ve ever read The Town Talk, then you probably would agree: They are not members of the “liberal media,” and they are not interested in waging a spiritual battle against Louisiana College. Louisiana College Trustee Heath Veuleman (allegedly) wrote that The Town Talk‘s entire goal is “to challenge Louisiana College’s credibility and integrity” and implied the newspaper was staffed by the “sycophants and acolytes” who oppose their current administration. According to former LC Professor Reynoso, President Aguillard allegedly also decried The Town Talk‘s coverage as “evil” and “attacks from Satan.”
In December 2010, The Town Talk reported on Louisiana College’s attempt to secure $70 million in funding from the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to build a medical school right here in Central Louisiana. The paper had received a “draft report,” which was posted on the now-defunct SaveOurLC forum, and shortly thereafter, photos emerged of LC President Aguillard meeting with diplomats from Kuwait while visiting Washington, D.C. Aguillard and his administration had seriously considered attempting to capture a sizable portion of the money pledged by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for disaster relief after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in order to fund a medical school. Shortly after the news broke, Aguillard explained his intentions to The Baptist Message:
After the relationship developed with the Kuwait ambassador, he told us that he wanted to introduce us to the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia. He (the Kuwait ambassador) believed that Saudi Arabia, as well as Kuwait, might possibly support some sort of humanitarian effort through the LC medical school. This was the last leg of the journey (seeking possible funding in the amount of $35 million each from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia). Again, let me say, the funds we sought were to have no strings attached.
We were not looking for this proposal to Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, to plug into a funding hole in the general fund-raising for the medical school. It would have been for a specific aspect of the medical school tied in some way to a humanitarian effort. That is all.
The money from the proposal would not have come to Louisiana College; it would have gone into the renovation of a state property. So there would have been no piercing of the veil between Louisiana College and foreign money into LC’s budget.
Second, the idea for possibly naming the school after George H.W. Bush was suggested during a discussion with the Kuwait ambassador. The people of Kuwait have a great respect and admiration for President Bush. If the school were named after him, the Kuwaitis would have viewed the gift was being given to President Bush, in his honor, for the renovation.
A third component would have been a mission component; a physician fellowship program where physicians with the International Mission Boards, and from all over the world, would furlough through the medical school. In fact, we are still working with the IMB on that. Medical students from Middle Eastern countries would have also come and, of course, would then be exposed to the gospel.
Recognizing Aguillard’s contention that their proposal was only in draft form and had never even reached the LC Board and that the Kuwaiti ambassador was the driving force behind naming the school after a former President of the United States, it is still worth mentioning this (from the report obtained by The Town Talk):
I understand the proposal that was allegedly “stolen” from LC and “leaked” to The Town Talk may have just been one of many drafts, but either way, it directly contradicts what Aguillard told The Baptist Mission. The State of Louisiana was clearly listed as the party responsible for providing and renovating the property, which makes total sense: The State owns that property.
At the very least, LC considered asking the State of Kuwait to build a $35 million “addition for medical education,” and most importantly, they also considered asking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide another $35 million for the school’s “endowment” and operations. Yet according to Aguillard, LC wasn’t looking for Saudi Arabia or Kuwait to “plug a hole” in their fundraising gap; apparently, they were simply hoping Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would provide more than half of the money. $70 million out of $136 million wouldn’t fill a “gap” in funds; it’d fill an entire ocean. Quoting again from Aguillard (bold mine):
We would never ask for any operational funds from a non-Christian entity. I don’t care from what country or even the federal government – we treat them all the same: We would not take any funds for the day-to-day operation of this college that have strings attached. The Louisiana Baptist Convention would not approve of it, nor would our Board of Trustees. First, if money had been given would it have gone into a structure owned by the state of Louisiana and not Louisiana College.
Again, although this document may have only been intended as an internal working draft, it nonetheless demonstrates that the leadership of Louisiana College had considered asking for property, operational funds, and an endowment from a “non-Christian entity.” Or, it’s the worst series of typographical errors in the history of Louisiana College.
Once again, from Aguillard (bold mine):
The first meeting that this board [LC Board of Trustees] had with regard to the medical school, we discussed openly addressing a Muslim and/or a non-Christian community coming into our medical school. And they were unanimous: Why should we not work with Muslim people and lead them to Christ? Our mission is to change the world for Christ. If we are going to reach a Muslim world we must communicate with a Muslim world. We made it very clear what our mission is and they were aware of it. However, they recognize the rigor and the credibility and the credentialing that a U.S. school brings to the table with regard to what their students receive. They currently have 800 students in medical schools in Canada, even though they do have their own medical school.
Setting aside the outlandish notion that LC only sought to acquire $70 million in funding from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in order to “work with the Muslim people and lead them to Christ,” it’s critically important to point out that there are five acclaimed medical schools in Saudi Arabia and one medical school in the small country of Kuwait; they do, in fact, have several medical schools.
I am fully aware that by piecing together all of this readily-accessible and (for the most part) publicly-available information, I am opening up myself to criticism. A handful of folks may even think that my comments are all part of some elaborate ploy by the “liberal media” to “attack” Louisiana College. I have never and would never attack the institution of Louisiana College. Central Louisianans need and cherish Louisiana College. Some may suggest that because I am not a card-carrying member of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, I have no right to say anything about the subject (it’s happened before). But these decisions do affect me and everyone else who pays taxes in the State of Louisiana. Remember, Louisiana College offers its students an array of taxpayer subsidized loans and scholarships, and remember also, that one of the two “draft” reports somehow “stolen” and “leaked” to The Town Talk suggested Louisiana College would be requesting a donation of approximately $66 million for its campus and necessary renovations from the State of Louisiana, an enormous sum of money for a State currently plagued by massive cuts and deficiencies in its own public education system.
It’s almost impossible to have an honest conversation with someone who believes criticism is evil or the devil’s work. In an academic environment, particularly one rooted in Christian principles, people should not be encouraged to wage war against those who disagree with them; they should be taught how to broker peace and understand human empathy. Louisiana College has never been “under attack.” People, primarily alumni, have publicly questioned the recent decisions made by the college’s leadership, beginning famously with Aguillard’s appointment as President by an ad-hoc selection committee formed by LC Board members. From the Associated Baptist Press, January 18, 2005:
As trustees met for more than four hours, mostly behind closed doors, about 250 students and others marched on the campus with signs opposing Aguillard. Meanwhile, a smaller group of supporters wore yellow tags supporting him. Earlier the faculty voted 53-12 to oppose Aguillard.
The embattled school already is on probation from its accrediting agency for issues of academic freedom. Now it faces a lawsuit over Aguillard’s nomination and election.
The alumni and former faculty members who filed a lawsuit last week claim the new president’s election violates the school’s bylaws because he was not nominated by the original search committee. Trustees appointed a special committee Jan. 6 to bring Aguillard’s name before the board for a vote.
The original search committee was replaced after its first choice, seminary professor Malcolm Yarnell of Fort Worth, Texas, turned down the job two months after accepting it. The committee offered it’s second choice, New Orleans seminary professor Stan Norman, but was rebuffed by other trustees, who appointed a new committee.
For many, the way in which the Louisiana College Board dismissed the concerns of hundreds of students, the vast and overwhelming majority of faculty members, and countless alumni seemed antithetical to the college’s commitment and mission; the decision to bypass its own established rules for selecting a President was the subject of a protracted lawsuit.
The criticism is not being promulgated or promoted by people who want to destroy Louisiana College; the criticism is from people who love Louisiana College. Once upon a time, not too terribly long ago, you didn’t have to explain your allegiance to a memo written eleven years ago by a group of Baptist ministers to qualify for a teaching position. Once upon a time, Louisiana College welcomed Methodists and Muslims, not because they sought to “lead them to Christ,” but because they sought to provide them first and foremost with a rigorous education. And once upon a time, you didn’t have to be a Southern Baptist or even a graduate of Louisiana College to be accepted as a supporter.
Update I: The Baptist Message, as it turns out, did not completely scrub President Aguillard’s editorial, as was stated in the original post and headline; they migrated the editorial to a different page. Currently, it is very difficult to search for the editorial on their website. Baptist Message editor Kelly Boggs states that he is aware of this problem, and they hope to upgrade the site soon.
Update II: If you’ve managed to read this entire post, then it should be clear: I am not and would never “attack” President Aguillard for his stances on abortion or homosexuality. I understand and respect his beliefs and his right to express and hold those beliefs. I brought up his statements on those issues simply to highlight certain factual errors.