Monday, February 14, 2005

More on the SBL Resolution on Biblical Values

The SBL Forum has a report by Matthew Collins on the Survey that I discussed last month.

Collins notes that the response rate was unusually high:
Of the 5,585 members receiving the survey, 1,954 members (35%) responded. Online survey experts consider a response rate of greater than 3% to be excellent. A response at the level achieved in the resolution survey is phenomenal.
If he knows that a glitch in the survey software allowed people to vote multiple times, or that non-members were able to access the survey, he does not mention it. This surely confounds the results, which were as follows:

56% Agree
44% Disagree

If the results are filtered to show only those entering "anonymous":
26% Agree
74% Disagree

Collins notes that the responses fell into four main groups:

  • "Thank you for doing this — I wish it had been done sooner."
  • "How dare you do this — I hold completely opposite views."
  • "I partially agree and partially disagree and I'd vote differently if the wording were different."
  • "The SBL shouldn't play politics or pass such resolutions and should stick to biblical studies."
As noted, the views of "Ralph" fall into the last category.

Collins says that "Council will have a discussion about the results and continue the conversation at the 2005 Annual Meeting." Does that mean they will have a discussion among themselves or that the conversation will be open to the membership? I hope it is the latter. I continue to be concerned and depressed at the prospect of the politicization of the SBL. This will add to, not reduce, politico-religious polarization in the US and likely fracture the Society itself.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Definitely have to agree with you on this one... I sent an email to Matthew Collins about this... I'm pretty annoyed that the council is even entertaining this sloppily conceived idea. This would really have the potential to split the society quite apart from the particular viewpoint taken in the resolution. If the mission of the SBL is to promote critical investigation of the Bible, why take an official position on such investigations? Seems to stifle academic freedom and should offend anyone who enjoys the diversity of beliefs that exist within the society.