Accusations of bias follow Chapel speech

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer and April Oddo | LTVN Intern

The Chapel guest speaker Wednesday sparked controversy with a speech some in the Baylor community have criticized for being political and un-Christian.

Kaitlin Curtice, Christian, author and member of the Potawatomi Nation, spoke on politically charged topics. In her speech, Curtice said fighting for “true justice” means undoing the historical effects of colonialism.

“For the world to survive, for true justice to take place among us, decolonization must be a goal,” Curtice said. “We must fight against systems of oppression, systems like toxic patriarchy and capitalist greed that give no care to the land, and we must do it for the sake of all of us.”

Curtice also began her prayers with “oh mystery” rather than addressing them toward God or Jesus Christ.

In response, Baylor Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) issued a statement lambasting Curtice and the Chapel organizers who invited her.

The statement said Curtice’s understanding of Christianity was “surface level at best” and said Baylor allowed “a speaker with pagan sympathies to mislead students.” The YCT statement also said Baylor Chapel pushes a left-wing agenda.

“It has once again come to our attention that Baylor’s university chapel has taken on the political agenda of the progressive wing of the Baylor Faculty,” the statement said. “This morning, several of our members attended university Chapel and were met again with the liberal agenda.”

Reflective of the political tone of Curtice’s speech, Baylor Democrats conversely issued a statement defending Curtice. The statement said inviting a speaker with different views of Christianity could help students grow in their own faith.

“We support Baylor’s decision to have the inclusion of someone who shares a view of Christianity that is strongly shaped by the cultures and ideals of the Potawatomi Nation of which she is a member of, and providing a new perspective for students to have a personal relationship with their own faith,” the Democrats’ statement said.

Denison sophomore Jake Neidert, vice president of Baylor YCT, said he was particularly offended by the apparent lack of Christianity in Curtice’s prayers.

“I have no idea what she was talking about but it seemed to be very pagan, not very Christian, and I really had no respect for it whatsoever,” Neidert said.

Neidert also said he likely would have “just laughed about” the political aspects of Curtice’s speech had her prayer followed a more conventionally biblical template.

Shreveport, La, freshman Veronica Penales, Baylor Democrat’s vice president, said she didn’t see anything wrong with Curtice’s prayer.

“I think she was right in praying the way she wanted to pray, it was her chapel service to lead. I don’t think she crossed the line in that sense,” Penales said. “I support her, everything she did in that Chapel service including praying to Mother Mystery.”

The phrase “Mother Mystery” was never said by Curtice, but has been incorrectly used by others referencing her Chapel speeches.

In a response to parents’ concerns, Baylor said instances such as this can be seen as “problems – or as learning opportunities.” The university said while Baylor works with its chapel guests to plan material ahead of time, speakers may go off-script on occasion.

“Every Chapel speaker works with us ahead of time on what message they will be sharing, but on occasion, a speaker may veer away from our understanding of the message they planned to convey,” the response said. “When this happens, we address the matter with our Chapel students and invite them to come talk to us after Chapel.”

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Curtice addressed her prayers to “Mother Mystery.” Potawatomi Nation was also misspelled.