Calvinism and Corruption: Louisiana College’s Real Story

This week, a news outlet that faithfully reports on Baptist news (obviously not the Baptist Press) – the Town Talk – reported that Joe Aguillard has been locked out of his office, escorted from campus, fired from his position, and had his title of President Emeritus removed. Rondall Reynoso filled us in on the details, chiefly that Aguillard sought to undermine the current president of the college, who replaced him after a long string of atrocious behavior and gross incompetence.

Like most of the long saga of this Southern Baptist College’s bizarre recent past, the story of Aguillard’s firing includes espionage, secrecy, private detectives and other odd behavior on both Aguillard’s side and the administration’s, complete with the regular caveat to the press that the college won’t be issuing “any further comment,” again keeping concerned alumni and Southern Baptist offering-givers in the dark.

If we’re not careful, we will spike the football on a bad man being gone, without reminding ourselves of the even worse man who was pulled the strings on this puppet show from hell. First, a few reminders of the story line.

  • Joe Aguillard posted an odd and seemingly out-of-the-blue article on the college’s website, claiming that he was going to do something about Calvinists trying to take over the college. No one – either faculty or students – knew of any Calvinists trying to take over the college.
  • Three quality faculty members were fired, with the charge that they were Calvinists in a plot to take over. One happened to be my college friend’s brother, which is how I heard about the controversy and began to look into it.
  • Eventually, we discovered that Tim Johnson (who most certainly is not a Calvinist) was trying to blow the whistle on Aguillard’s financial improprieties that included tens of thousands in misappropriated funds. He was fired when trying to warn trustees out of due diligence and his fiduciary responsibilities. LC eventually had to pay Johnson in a settlement for unjust termination.
  • Johnson clarified in a letter attained and released by Pulpit & Pen that the “Calvinists are trying to take over” narrative was a “smoke screen.” The facts were simple; Aguillard was about to be fired for gross professional incompetence, and Louisiana Baptist Convention director, David Hankins, made a “devil’s bargain” with Aguillard to save his job, if only Aguillard would fire the Calvinists.
  • As broken by P&P, news surfaced (with the accompanying documents) that the board of trustees decided to pay off Aguillard’s gay, drug-using assistant to the tune of 35k dollars in exchange for a gag order not to talk about Aguillard’s misdeeds.
  • Due to, in part, P&P’s reporting, SACS stripped LC of their accreditation because of their corruption and the “undue influence” of LBC director, David Hankins.
  • P&P repeatedly charged that Louisiana Baptist Message newspaper editor (who has since left his post), Kelly Boggs, was complicit with Hankins in a propaganda campaign to make the scandal at LC “much ado about nothing.” Boggs, in particular, said he saw a secret file that exonerated Aguillard. Of course, the contents to this day have not been revealed.
  • Aguillard made the college environment indomitably hostile to those who desired truth, including…
    • Bringing up on charges of violating the student handbook (eroneously) two heroic student bloggers, who eventually had to leave the college
    • Using campus security to intimidate students
    • Not issuing a student-voted professor of the year award to one of the fired professors, canceling that year’s award altogether
    • Putting internet filters on the campus’ wifi, so students could not see news or blogs critical of Aguillard
    • Claiming (on audio) that students and faculty have no constitutional rights while on campus
    • Using faculty, like Argile Smith, to threaten students who criticized Aguillard
  • Trustees were repeatedly kept away from information regarding the controversy, with trustees like Jay Adkins testifying to the corruption. Chairman Tommy French was repeatedly dishonest time and time again, saying precisely the opposite of the truth in almost every situation. The trustees asking for information were ruthlessly vilified.
  • After the facts regarding financial impropriety, paid blackmail to a homosexual assistant, a bizarre land and money scheme in Tanzania, failed plans for a medical and film school, intense public outrage and finally the final blow – insulting Eric Hankins, the son of David Hankins – Hankins Sr finally called for Aguillard’s head on a platter (after once braggingly having said that “Aguillard would only go if he was caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl”).
  • The problem for Hankins Sr was simple…Aguillard wouldn’t go quietly. He would spill the beans on the devil’s bargain. The choice made was the only choice that could be made. Aguillard would be paid off, something LC was already used to doing. He received a year’s paid vacation, a high salary as a faculty member, and the title of President Emeritus.

Finally, it seems, Aguillard was taken out of commission for conspiring against the current president.

On one hand, we are happy. This is a two and a half year-old “We told you so” from Pulpit & Pen. Aguillard was full-blown corrupt and needed to go. This was a long time coming, and the LC story was the first corruption account by Pulpit & Pen that made news around the country. It was the first time we collaborated with secular news to get a story out to the public, and it was the first time we flexed our muscle to bring about change in the real world. We’re glad the story is mostly over.

Remember what the story is really about. It’s not just about a corrupt former college president who finally got what he had coming. It’s about the culture of corruption that exists in the SBC. It’s about the immense hatred of Calvinism on the part of state convention director who willingly overlooked gross financial mismanagement and professional incompetence and the loss of millions of dollars in order to get rid of a few Calvinist professors.

Justice hasn’t fully been served until David Hankins repents of his hatred of Calvinism and apologizes to the three men thrown under the bus in his unrighteous crusade against Monergism. Don’t forget what this is all about.

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[Contributed by JD Hall]

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