In ongoing Baptist battle, Texans weigh big funding cut for seminaries

Posted: Friday, September 22, 2000

DALLAS (AP) -- The Texas unit of the Southern Baptist Convention is considering cuts of more than $5 million from funding of denominational seminaries and other agencies.

The proposal is being pushed by those in the Baptist General Convention of Texas who oppose strict conservative control over agencies in the biggest U.S. Protestant body. The plan goes before a Texas board meeting Tuesday and, if passed, to a statewide Baptist meeting Oct. 30-31.

Texas accounts for 17 percent of SBC members and 13 percent of the funding for denominational agencies.

The affected schools are in Fort Worth, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Mill Valley, Calif.; New Orleans; and Wake Forest, N.C. The plan would shift funding to seminaries at Baylor University and Hardin-Simmons University and the Hispanic Baptist Theological School, all in Texas.

SBC President James Merritt, a Georgia pastor, sees ''seeds of destruction'' in the proposal.

Texas Baptist officials accuse the seminaries of ''doctrinaire fundamentalism,'' lack of theological diversity, political litmus tests for new hires, trustee interference and harsh treatment of dissenting teachers.

The proposal would also cut funds to the SBC's national executive board and public policy agency, both based in Nashville, Tenn.

The SBC's organizational unity comes through a 75-year-old funding plan known as the ''Cooperative Program,'' which raised $168 million last year. Congregations and state units voluntarily share funds with the national denomination for education, administration, evangelism and other programs.


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