Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Texas School Sweeps Tradition under the Rug So They Can Cut It

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Texas School Sweeps Tradition under the Rug So They Can Cut It

Article excerpt

BAYLOR University will soon be dancing down a slippery slope.

At least, that's the opinion of some conservative Baptists who think Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university, erred when it reversed a 151-year-long ban on dancing last month.

Whatever the theologians decide, Baylor will have lots of potential dance partners. The school, located in Waco, Texas, is one of several conservative Christian schools that have changed their policies regarding on-campus dancing in recent months.

"This is a change that is creeping through Christian schools generally," says Thomas Englund of the Christian College Consortium, an association of 13 Christian colleges in Dunbarton, N.H. "Over time, people on other campuses will say, 'Look they did it at place "x" and they turned out all right.' I suspect there will be some more changes in the next few years."

Over the past 15 months, Christian colleges of varying denominations have altered their policies regarding dancing. Messiah College in Pennsylvania, which is affiliated with the Brethren in Christ, began allowing dancing on campus in late 1994. George Fox College in Oregon, a Quaker-affiliated school, changed its policy last fall. Westmont College in California, a nondenominational Christian school, loosened up last month.

For decades, schools like Baylor have looked the other way as students went off campus to dance at fraternity and sorority parties. Supporters of the policy change say it will remove a double standard. "I talked to people who graduated in the 1930s, and they danced off campus," says Martha Lou Scott, a 1971 Baylor graduate who now works as the school's dean of student life. "It's a bit hypocritical to allow it off campus and not have it on campus," she says.

Baylor students have worked for years to lift the prohibition and, according to student body president Collin Cox, most students are happy about the change. "The arguments in terms of dancing being morally incorrect don't change by locale," he says. The first school dance is still being planned, but Cox expects students to be cutting the rug by spring.

But the new policy has riled some Baylor supporters. …

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