seminary student who lost his financial aid funding at Baylor
University when he acknowledged that he is gay has been accepted
to Emorys Candler School of Theology.
spring, Matt Bass, a licensed Baptist minister and candidate
for a Masters of Divinity at Baylors George W. Truett
Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, decided he was ready to
be honest with himself and those close to him about his sexual
I just made a decision that after lying to myself for so many
years, I would never lie to anybody again, he says.
confided to a close friend, who told another friend, and the
news eventually reached a minister at a local Baptist church
who had written a recommendation for Bass admission to
Truett. The minister called Bass to ask him about the rumor.
Bass did not deny it.
assumed it was a pastoral conversation, meaning their
talk was confidential, Bass says. We agreed to disagree,
the minister called Bass a month later and told him he could
no longer support his studying at Baylor, and he had contacted
the university administration to tell them about Bass
sexual orientation. Soon afterward, the dean of the seminary
assembled a meeting in which he informed Bass that he would
be stripped of his scholarships, which covered 85 percent of
his tuition. Although he had broken no formal rules, Bass eventually
received a letter saying
by living a homosexual lifestyle and supporting
gay marriage, he interferes with Baylors pursuit
of its objective . . . and fails to uphold historic
David Key, director of Emorys Baptist studies program,
learned of Bass situation, he contacted him and encouraged
Bass to apply to Candler. Bass was accepted and began his studies
at Emory this fall, although he receives only about half the
financial aid that he had at Truett.
good news for me, and what Im most excited about, is knowing
I will go to school somewhere where I will be challenged and
have the freedom to think for myself without being punished
for it, Bass says. I look forward to being able
to trust the university is more interested in education than
says he contacted Bass because he understood him to be an outstanding
student and believed he would be an asset to Emory, which has
a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation.
thought Matt exhibited a lot of the leadership qualities of
the type were looking for at Emory, Key says. He
has different experiences and is from an area of the country
that will lend a nice diversity to Candler as we try to reach
out nationally and internationally. And I knew we would be able
to offer him the kind of academic freedom that he was looking
Candlers Baptist studies program, which operates within
an ecumenical M.Div. program to prepare students for ministry
in Baptist congregations and other settings, is a challenge,
Key says, similar to that which Emory faces in maintaining a
healthy relationship with the Methodist church.
Candler is producing graduates of such excellence that we have
an image of excellence within Baptist circles as we continue
to be able to engage with the Baptists academically, Key
attracts conservative students as well as more progressive ones,
have told Matt he will have to engage with smart minds from
across the Baptist spectrum, which is what we want, Key
says. If hes going to make a difference when he
leaves here, thats something he will have to be working
toward while hes a student.
says he knows he will be challenged academically at Candler,
but that being open about himself will allow him to stop worrying
and focus on his studies.
is something to be said for being out, he
says. Its not about flaunting your sexuality or
anything, thats not the point, but the point is to find
freedom from shame. Its a relief. I know I will have to
get my academics together, but I think I will because I wont
be hating myself and my environment every minute. P.P.P.