There are some useful quotations from the March 4 meeting that show the working (albeit tense) relationship between fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism in the Red-State South. As a text, I believe they offer insight for scholars evaluating the state of Southern conservative religion in higher education in the Deep South. This is my stated research topic for my ongoing project. Thus, I offer this text here without comment, eliminating the small talk, repetition, or mumbled words:
Pannell: The reality is I know about this because I’ve gotten more than one phone call about an NGU employee that’s doing XYZ.
Lewis: May I ask who?
Pannell: Well, I don’t know all of them.
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Pannell: I don’t know that we have it stated anywhere but North Greenville will not be seen attacking any institution.
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Pannell: The president said ‘I think Grant’s involved too.’
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Pannell: I only have one way that I keep going. Basically where I am and where the university is we just have to stop the public display of this. The last thing in the world I would want to do is have to sever or terminate or disengage as if I am taking Bob Jones’s side. I do not want to be on their side when everything does. We collaborate with them over there even in the department you’re in….I want to offer you a way to not suffer any consequences. We’re not talking about what has happened. Linwood [said] an article [is] in the works [in the] Kenneth Burke Journal.
Lewis: That was on my vitae.
Pannell: We can share the blame if that’s what we’re after. We’re just not going to attack another institution especially in our neighborhood.
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Lewis: So what are the boundaries you do envision?
Pannell: Anything that is public like the blog, any kind of article, anything that’s out there we just can’t take it back, it would be ridiculous. You have not done anything that I want to punish you for….If you were to continue, you would be changing North Greenville. And we’re not going to let you do that.
Lewis: Linwood said it was social media?
Pannell: That’s the place that a lot of the reaction is coming from.
Lewis: Who are these people?
Pannell: There have been multiple calls to Vice-Presidents. I don’t even know if it’s been the same person, if it’s all the PR Director over there. Now the person that we talked to here didn’t want to give us his name. This is not a BJU person, this is an NGU person and has friends over there. One of the Vice-Presidents talked to Linwood before he talked to me. I’m not putting a lot of stock in the he-said-she-said. But I can’t control that from a Public Relations standpoint. As an institution we have certain public impression issues.
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Lewis: It’s ongoing harassment. There’s a pattern here. And to bring Grant into it? It’s an anonymous tip kind of thing, a whispering campaign. I can’t defend myself against that. I can’t defend myself. They are going to do that. It doesn’t surprise me…that they would go to this level, it doesn’t surprise me….If someone is going to be looking for something to get me in trouble, they are going to find it. I’ve done what I can to leave NGU out of it.
Pannell: We’ve been dragged into it.
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Pannell: I can’t make Bob Jones desist. I can at least make it a pause. If we could figure out a way to lay low enough.
Lewis: A pause until the end of the semester?
Pannell: At least until the end of the term. What I care most about is to keep going.
Lewis: I want to finish off the semester.
Pannell: I’m not comfortable being a censor. We’re operating at their [BJU’s] mercy.
Lewis: Which is unfortunate.
Pannell: We hope that we can be influences [on BJU]….You don’t have to recant. You don’t have to apologize to anybody and say “I was wrong.” We’re not talking about that. We’re just stopping. I don’t know how you put a stop on the blog. I don’t know if it needs to be taken down. I need to be able to say “That’s stopped. We’ve addressed that. Nothing else is none of anybody’s business.”
Lewis: I understand. I can understand a pause. I can, I can affirm a pause.
Pannell: Turn it off while you’re working for us. If you and I agree on this, then I am covering you. Can we negotiate a way you’re not terminated by North Greenville?
Lewis: That’s fair. A pause. I can agree to a pause.
Pannell: If we can discover some kind of mechanism, you have choices. You have to make decisions. I don’t need to be involved in those kinds of decisions…. I want you to make a decision.
Lewis: I can decide to pause it until the end of the term. I can affirm that. I agree with that.
Pannell: Would it be agreeable to you if you were to give me a memo, send me a memo to tell me what you’re going to do? We met today. Based on our agreement, here’s what I going to do. Now it’s not so I can hold your feet to the fire. You know, we have agreed and we have a formal agreement as to what is happening and ….
Lewis: That’s fine. I will do that.
Pannell: I will believe you. I’m not going to check. Obviously somebody might threaten that and I might have to come back and say, “Look. This is what’s said. Can you show me for a fact that’s not.” But that’s not because I may not trust you, I may need a bullet or two in my gun. That’s the kind of conversation after we’re through with this. That I know for a fact that that’s stopped and you know, that’s all we can ask.
Lewis: I may be in the American Prospect article. I may not be.
Pannell: You make your own call with that. I don’t want you to be guilty of censoring her. I just don’t want anything to come down further on your head first….But you tell me what you’re doing. The things I’ve heard most about are the blog. And uh again…”
Lewis: Now see I haven’t posted on my own blog in, in weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks — months. So that’s kind of mysterious.
Pannell: This is in the realm of hearsay [since] I haven’t seen it myself. But I do remember one thing is like . . . I think it was in the conversation with the President . . . I think it was about one of the Joneses having an affair…. It’s out there. North Greenville can’t be in the middle of that innuendo.
Lewis: I will send you a memo.