Larry Becker, LSU’s public relations man, calls Educate Truth an “attack website” with questionable practices. He sites Educate Truth’s recent publication of Larry Blackmer’s remarks at a Lake Union education summit as being taken out of context. This is not the case.
What Becker apparently doesn’t know is that Educate Truth simply posted a transcript of Blackmer’s response to a question about the controversy surrounding La Sierra. There was no commentary by Educate Truth. Educate Truth had removed a section of Blackmer’s response, because in private conversation Blackmer had retracted statements made in regard to Educate Truth, saying he didn’t mean to say what he did. In this light, Educate Truth thought to work with Blackmer privately to shield him from the repercussions of his own words. He requested the transcript be taken off the website, as it was bringing him trouble from LSU lawyers and jeopardizing his ministry. The only reason Educate Truth removed this transcript was to alleviate Blackmer’s predicament. However, since this information has now been made public and has been twisted, Educate Truth felt it necessary to make the issue clear.
Blackmer’s remarks were posted verbatim, and to demonstrate this, we are re-publishing his entire response to the question posed to him at the Lake Union education summit, including the single section which was removed because of Blackmer’s retraction (this single section will be in bold).
Academic freedom seems to be a code word for I can do anything I want to do. We are doing our best, trying to find a way to say to all of our universities and I think that Dr. Paulsen’s letter a number of months ago said it pretty clearly. We will not accept Adventist teachers teaching things in our schools that are not biblical or Adventist. I think he said it very clearly.
Now WASC at La Sierra has contacted La Sierra and said, “We believe in academic freedom as an accreditation agency. And if the church is going to meddle in what goes on in the classroom, then we will pull your accreditation.”
By the way, it’s an ex-Adventist that is chairing that [committee], and understands who we are very very clearly. And so my office is beginning to play hardball with the accrediting agency. [Please read Larry Blackmer’s comment regarding WASC and LSU accreditation]
We have the right to teach what we want in our schools. We have the right to teach Adventist values in Adventist schools, period, that’s reality. And we’re going to do that whether they like it or not and we will fight that with every breathe of our body that an accrediting agency is not going to tell us what we can teach in our classes.
You know my friends, what happened at La Sierra was not right, but how we’ve dealt with it as a church is absolutely wrong.
To go viral and not deal with the individuals on a face to face basis and try to solve the issue. If it didn’t work then at least you would have tried. I think it says somewhere in the Bible about how to deal with difficulties. Now, how La Sierra has dealt with it hasn’t been right either … In the last reading we just had talked about the infighting within the church and how the people on the outside say, “They’re not Christians.” Somehow we need to have the Holy Spirit to be able to deal with conflict in the church. And we need to deal with it in a way that doesn’t tear our system a part.
Now that means we have to be as administrators and as institutions that we have to have high moral ground and we must standup for what’s right and call sin by its real name. But that means as members we have to support our leaders as well. And we must find a way to be supportive and to work for change and not work to destroy. Now there is only a few people doing that, but the problem is those few people have become so … some of these websites have been so un-Christian.
I wrote an article for one of those websites saying, you guys are throwing stones at La Sierra and you don’t like what is going on. Here is a way to help on a positive way. The North American Division is trying to develop a faith based, Seventh-day Adventist, creation based science program for elementary. You know that right?
We’re doing this and so if you out there in this viral world don’t like what’s going on at La Sierra here’s a way to be positive about it and help us develop it, finance it. I never got a penny. And you ought to read the responses I got from this group.
And they also took that article, it was called By Design … It was in the Adventist Review as an editorial. They took that article and put “By Design / La Sierra teaches evolution as truth” and sent that to everyone one of their 3,000 members with my name on it. As if I was saying, “By design La Sierra is teaching evolution as truth.”
Somehow we have to be above, and I’m talking about one person, find a way to deal with controversy in the church and not kill each other in the process. What’s happening is not right, but we have to find a way to deal with those issues. Next question.
Q: If you stand up against the accreditation agency, what are the repercussions?
They don’t have a leg to stand on. I would write an article for the Los Angeles Times and say, “Here’s what’s going on, here’s what their doing to La Sierra.” And they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. If we shone the light on that, they’ll still have to accredit us.
Q: Without accreditation, what would happen?
No federal financial aid to any of the students. None of the credits from La Sierra would transfer to any other university. They would not be accepted into the university of california system for graduate programs. Just minor things like that (the audience laughs).
Q: Will there be discussion in the General Conference Session regarding this issue?
I can guarantee you there will be discussion in the General Conference about this issue, but it will probably be in the hallways more than it will be up front. I doubt there will be a lot of discussion up front about this issue. It’s not a world church issue. It’s a North American Division issue and I think the leaders would like to keep it that way. Not to sweep it under the rug, but there is no sense in having… When I was in Africa talking about these issues. And they said, “What’s your problem just fire the teachers and have it over with? That’s what we would do.” And that’s what would happen. We’re a different system and we work differently. And there’s no sense in polluting the pure minds of the rest of the church with what’s happening.