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The baggage (honor?) of a Mercer diploma


How ironic that the Index’s recent online edition contains both a note about the startling, anemic attendance at the recent annual meeting (“a record low 1892 messengers) and many articles about the Mercer issue. Although not a Mercer graduate, I am close to many current students and recent alumni whose diplomas will now inherit the baggage (or they may consider it an honor) of being associated with a school cast away by the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Do we not realize that our Baptist dollars have helped countless hometown students become doctors, teachers, lawyers, music ministers and pastors? They enrich any community they join after graduating. We should not now choose to be selfish. Funding scholarships for our children does not advocate lifestyles that our children have been taught are sinful.

Our scholarship money sends a powerful message to our young people who otherwise might not have afforded Mercer’s tuition. The message: “We love you. Never forget your local church. You are now at an outstanding university with a student body more diverse than that of your local high school. Study hard, and make a difference in the world when you graduate. While you’re at college you will meet students and even faculty who have values you were taught to either question, or even disdain. Be true to your Christian faith and your values.”

That’s the message our dollars send, and I’m proud of it. To rescind this funding would be telling our students “sorry, we just don’t trust you to do right.” It would be shameful, yet more intellectually honest, for the GBC to pull the money from our accredited colleges and universities and charter a dogmatic Georgia Baptist Bible College with sworn oaths and litmus tests for admission. How many students who would have benefitted from our Mercer scholarships would even apply to such a school?

Wondering why our annual meeting attendance is anemic? Quit trying to bully our colleges and universities. Use that energy to win souls.