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NC colleges want to split from Baptist State Convention

The last colleges affiliated with NC’s Baptist State Convention say “see ya” to the bigots. The organization recently voted to expel gay-friendly churches from its ranks, and the schools are concerned about being dictated to by the convention. (N&O):

Five colleges and universities in North Carolina are on the path to divorcing the Baptist State Convention.

The five — the last holdouts of a once-proud assemblage of Baptist schools that included Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem and Meredith College in Raleigh — have chafed under increasingly tight restrictions imposed by the state convention.

According to a plan approved by the convention’s executive committee, the colleges and universities would be allowed to start choosing their own trustees in 2009. Meanwhile, the state convention, which gives each school about $1.2 million a year, will begin phasing out its monetary contributions, eliminating them altogether by 2013.

…At its heart, the struggle is over control of the schools’ governance. Many schools worry that the increasingly conservative direction of Baptist life might limit academic freedom. Last year, North Carolina Baptists approved a motion to ban gay-friendly churches from the convention.

…The colleges affected include Campbell University in Buies Creek, Chowan University in Murfreesboro, Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, Mars Hill College in Mars Hill and Wingate University in Wingate. Among the oldest are Wingate University, bought by the state convention in 1923, and Campbell University, bought by the convention in 1924, said Norman Jameson, a spokesman for the state convention. None of the schools’ presidents responded to phone messages Thursday.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding