In recent weeks revelations of sexual and gender-based violence at Baylor University have been covered by news media nationwide, from the New York Times to ESPN. Baptist News Global reported this important story and curated key articles from other sources.
But we also did more. With the leadership of Robert Dilday, our veteran editor in chief, BNG focused on adding context, analysis and perspective to the news.
As the first wave of stories broke, we turned to our cadre of columnists for insight. And they delivered. Before key findings of the Pepper Hamilton report were made public, before stories announcing a series of firings by Baylor’s board of regents, columnist Amy Butler, a New York City pastor and Baylor alumna, reminded the nation (not just the “Baylor Nation”) that “At Baylor, the real story isn’t hypocrisy. It’s the victims of sexual assault.”
The gravitational pull toward hypocrisy is more than a salacious twist; it’s a distraction from the critical conversation we need to be having on sexual assault and the institutions that cover it up.
As developments continued to unfold, Texas pastor and Truett Seminary graduate Kyndall Rae Rothaus offered “A Christian feminist response to Baylor.”
It is past time for Baptists to repent and change the tide of sexism. Fortunately for Baptists, God always accepts latecomers. But let’s not keep God waiting any longer, shall we?
The same day we published a follow-up piece from Amy Butler, “Baylor can go further in addressing sexual assault.”
If it’s true that Baylor’s recent action set a high bar for colleges and universities everywhere, Baylor can now become a school that builds and models safe, nurturing community that acts swiftly to rid the campus of sexual predators and makes the care and healing of victims its highest priority.
Servant leadership is about putting people first, and in this instance, the people that need to be put first are the victims of sexual assault.
Jonathan then offered some thoughts on what a prioritization of servant leadership might look like at Baylor in relation to the problem of sexual violence.
But Baylor hasn’t been the only topic of conversation at baptistnews.com in recent weeks. Mark Wingfield’s pastoral column about transgender persons attracted more than 833,000 page views. After engaging personally more than 400 people who responded to the article, Mark reflected on the experience in a follow-up column.
Other commentary topics that were popular with our readers:
- a prominent church myth that needs to die;
- why congregations keep firing their ministers;
- the illusion of the superhero pastor;
- A&E’s “re-imagination” of the groundbreaking mini-series “Roots”;
- things a preaching professor will miss – and not miss – in moving back to the pastorate; and
- the award-winning play Hamilton and “immigrants who aren’t supposed to be in the room.”
Some of our most-read news stories over this period:
- Baptist organizations joining other faith groups to support the right of a Muslim community in New Jersey to build a new mosque;
- a new book on how the narratives of Baptist clergywomen during the height of the conflict in Southern Baptist Convention shed light on that turbulent period and its consequences;
- the New Baptist Covenant and Jimmy Carter’s persistent hope for racial healing; and
- the growing movement to create freedom from “stuff.”
Meanwhile, we kept readers informed about the broader world of religion through curated news and opinion articles. We committed substantial resources to our “storytelling journalism” initiative through in-depth feature articles such as Norman Jameson’s exploration of tragedy, forgiveness and justice in “How Jeanne Bishop forgave her sister’s killer and is working for his good.”
And we produced another issue of Herald, our magazine for donors and other stakeholders. The expanded summer issue includes a variety of engaging stories plus our annual report that thanks our donors and describes how their support made a difference in the past year.
My point about this small slice of news and opinion content:
At BNG, hosting “Conversations That Matter” among people of faith is more than a tagline. It is our mission-driven goal.
I doubt you find every news or feature story we publish to be interesting or compelling. I know some topics appeal to you more than others. I am confident you will not agree with every viewpoint expressed by our columns and other opinion writers. But my prayer each day is that our creative stewardship of the power of story will inform and, yes, even inspire you as a follower of Jesus to think, to discern, to engage others in meaningful conversation, and to act.
Baptist News Global is reader supported. We do not charge subscriptions for our content. We rely on contributions for more than 90 percent of our operating budget.
Twice a year I reach out to our readers to ask for your generous financial support. If you are a BNG advocate and already responded to my letter sent last month, THANK YOU. If you have not responded, or if you are new to our cause and would like to become a member of the BNG Annual Fund, you may make a tax deductible donation online now or send a check to Baptist News Global, P.O. Box 21148, Winston-Salem, NC 27120.
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