Friday, June 1, 2012

LR Christian leader writes parents on Mormon hubbub

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 2:40 PM

COVER GIRL: Carla Emanuel was prominently featured in this months Soiree, as well as the May 31 Democrat-Gazette.
  • COVER GIRL: Carla Emanuel was prominently featured in this month's Soiree, as well as a May 31 Democrat-Gazette article on Little Rock Christian Academy.
We had a vigorous discussion yesterday arising from the mention of a Democrat-Gazette article concerning a decision by Little Rock Christian Academy not to admit a four-year-old Mormon boy. Doctrinal differences were cited in a wide-ranging article that touched on several issues, including Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy.

The article has prompted a letter to school parents from Gary Arnold, the head of school. It appears in full on the jump.

In short, he defended the school's admission decision, but expressed "regret" about the "distraction" and apologized for the "tone" of the article.

He also said:

The article does not accurately capture the heart or mind of our dear school. I also want you to know that, per board policy, the board chair and I are the only official spokespeople for the school. Other voices, even if they are school voices, are not official and may be quite independent of the collective voice of the board and administration.

This seems to be a reference to quotes in the D-G article that captured most of the attention in on-line commenting forums. School board member Carla Emanuel said she thought admission of a Mormon would be a mistake. (Stuart Miller is the Board chair.) Said the Democrat-Gazette article in quoting her:

“It’s very, very sneaky when people come in, especially in elementary and junior high grades where the kids are very influenced. It’s frightening how quickly things can get turned around,” she said. “They are called to do that, which is fine. But then start a Mormon school,” she said.

Later, the article added:

Emanuel, the board member, said the nation’s 6.1 million Mormons’ salvation is suspect, adding: “I don’t believe they’ll go to heaven."

As luck of timing would have it, Emanuel, wife of Dr. Peter Emanuel, the director of UAMS' Cancer Institute, didn't figure prominently this week only in the daily newspaper. She is also on the cover of this month's Soiree magazine (cover shown) with the headline "Winged Warrior." The article delves into her religious beliefs in the course of a profile on her volunteer work, including as a board member at Little Rock Christian. She said of the school, "... we’ve got that little something extra that produces well-rounded, committed young men and women."

The Soiree article also said of her work on the LR Christian Board:

“To be asked to be on the school board was such an honor. I am in a room full of lawyers, judges, teachers, CPAs, business owners, heads of school and then, there I am. Very humbling,” she admits. “This group of men and women are solid, 100 percent sold-out for Christ. Nothing is ever taken lightly, or for granted. We discuss everything with great detail.”

She continues, “The work we do will affect the entire campus and the community. We believe in what we are doing and that it will make a difference for many generations to come.”

Continue for Arnold's letter

June 1, 2012

Dear Warrior Families:

As your head of school, I am compelled to shine some light on the media story of this week.

First, thank you for being a Warrior. Let it be known that I am accountable to a governing body that is humble before the Lord. Contrary to what may have been inferred in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette interview, our school is accountable to God, public law and to the high standards of the broader community of private education. We can't do "whatever we want."

In the same breath, let me say that we are an independent, Christian school that decided in 2008 to adopt mission-driven admissions. We were growing too fast and the culture of our school was fuzzy. By anchoring our policies, personnel, curriculum and families to a biblical worldview, we have been able to better fulfill our mission and purpose. Accountable to God, public law and to the high standards of the broader community of private education, we elected to adopt specific criteria for admissions. Community is enriched by both unity and diversity. And, unity on our core beliefs is our pearl of great price.

Admissions criteria are mission-driven (i.e., pursuit of truth, Christian worldview and college preparatory). Lest there be confusion on what we mean by Christian worldview, we articulate an eight point doctrinal statement to serve as the unifying link in our golden triangle of home, church and school. I expand on this point in the Warrior Roundtable post, "Doctrine Matters."

Failure to meet the full set of criteria for admissions sends an application to a confidential committee review. A committee of seven people (board, parent and staff) coupled with the Director of Admissions determines if there is a mission-driven case to admit or not. I review all committee decisions before a final decision is made. All this is to say: there are policies, criteria and a process for admissions; it is not arbitrary or capricious. It is a pain-staking process to best serve the mutual well-being of the school and the family.

I want you to know I personally apologized to the leadership of the Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association for the tone of the ADG article of May 31. The article does not accurately capture the heart or mind of our dear school. I also want you to know that, per board policy, the board chair and I are the only official spokespeople for the school. Other voices, even if they are school voices, are not official and may be quite independent of the collective voice of the board and administration.

We regret that this local issue has become a distraction. May "wisdom from above" prevail in all things at Little Rock Christian Academy. According to the Bible, wisdom from above is "pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:17-18)

Please pray for your school and your servants that we may serve the Lord and you with honor. If you have questions, feel free to call me.

Humbly yours,
Gary B. Arnold
Head of School

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