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Baylor in same-sex marriage flap

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DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) -- The president of the world's largest Baptist university Tuesday upbraided the school's student newspaper for publishing an editorial defending same-sex marriages, saying the opinion piece undermined "foundational Christian principles."

Baylor University President Robert Sloan said he is justifiably outraged over the editorial that ran Friday in The Baylor Lariat but would not take action against the student editors and writers.

Baylor, located in the central Texas city of Waco, has a policy that states a marriage between a man and a woman is the biblical norm. Baylor students are not allowed to participate "in advocacy groups that promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching."

"It (the editorial) comes dangerously close to violating university policy as established in the Student Handbook," Sloan said in a statement.

The editorial said it is not fair to discriminate against someone because of their race, heritage, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.

"Taking into account equal protection under the law, gay couples should be granted the same equal rights to legal marriage as heterosexual couples," the editorial said.

The student newspaper's editorial board voted 5 to 2 to support the opinion piece, which backed San Francisco in its court suit in favor of same-sex marriages.

Larry Brumley, a spokesman for Baylor, said the university wanted to make clear that the voice supporting gay marriage was that of the five members of the editorial board and not that of the university. The students who wrote and supported the editorial will not be punished or disciplined.

He said that the core constituency of Baptists is against same-sex marriage and the students crossed the line by weighing in like an advocacy group with the editorial that ran counter to Baptist beliefs on the issue.

Several Baptist groups have been leading the charge against same-sex marriage, arguing that gay and lesbian marriages are a sin in the eyes of God.

Tony Pederson, the chair of the journalism department of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who is also a Baylor graduate, said these types of disagreements over journalism and religion have happened before at the Baptist school.

"We, The Lariat editorial board, stand by our decision to address an issue at the forefront of national public debate. The editorial board's opinions reflect the views of the majority of its members, not necessarily those of the Baylor community," Lacy Elwood, the paper's editor in chief said in a statement.

Sloan has had a rough run as the head of Baylor over the past several months. One player in the Baylor men's basketball program was arrested and charged with murdering a teammate and an internal probe concluded the men's basketball team violated several NCAA rules.

In addition. faculty members have openly questioned Sloan on his ability to lead the school.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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