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William Jewell College Upholds Evolution

William Jewell College, a liberal arts college founded in 1849 associated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, is about to lose the MBC’s support due to its position on a variety of issues, including the teaching of creationism.

The MBC’s executive board voted 44–4 to recommend that the MBC discontinue its support of the college -- about $850 000 per year, roughly 3% of the college’s annual budget. The recommendation is expected to be followed at the MBC’s annual meeting in early November.

On January 24, 2003, the Reverend Charles Burnett, chair of the MBC’s executive board’s interagency relations committee, sent a letter to David Sallee, the president of the college, asking for personal information about the college’s faculty and trustees and for “[a] statement concerning the official teaching position of William Jewell on the first 11 chapters of Genesis, specifically the creation account”; the trustees voted on February 14 not to respond.

Following the news of the MBC’s executive board’s vote, Judy Dilts, the head of the college’s biology department, told the Sun-News of the Northland that creationism is not science: “We teach, because we are biologists, the theory of evolution.”

Although the MBC’s Burnett told the Sun-News that the MBC’s board was advocating that Genesis be taught as fact in theology classes but not in biology classes, the chair of the MBC’s executive board, the Reverend Jay Scribner, was quoted as saying that creationism was appropriate for science classes as well: “Any Christian school needs to embrace and espouse the tenet of creationism.”