Infamous Westboro Baptist Church Comes to Waco

Image courtesy of Pablo Gonzales


As some of you may already know, Westboro Baptist Church visited Waco last Sunday, September 10. Westboro Baptist Church is based out of Topeka, Kansas and has been widely denounced by Christian organizations (such as World Baptist Alliance, the Southern Baptist Convention, and others) for their hateful ideologies. A central part of WBC’s doctrine is the idea that “God hates f*gs” (see their website name, The way they spread this “theology” is by protesting at soldier’s funerals, spreading hate through speech, and attributing tragedies (such as 9/11 or Hurricane Harvey) to God’s hate and punishment for sin. They regularly travel the country to protest, saying that they wish to spread the message of God’s hate and condemnation.


On Sunday morning, Westboro Baptist Church protested outside of Antioch Community Church and St. Louis Catholic Church. They posted a press release online explaining their reasons for protesting, though its message is embedded in deeply religious phrases and seemingly obscure Bible verses (link: The document first asserts that Waco churches are enemies of God because they are not facing persecution. Furthermore, WBC says that the churches of Waco “gladly and greedily justify their sisters Sodom and Samaria,” which is presumably in reference to allowing homosexuality. The press release states that Waco churches have succumbed to the fear of men and thus abandoned all talk of “Sodom.” The document pronounces a “double woe” to the churches, as they have also exhibited pride in committing these sins. Essentially, it seems they are saying that Waco churches are cursed for not preaching the same idea of God’s anger that Westboro Baptist holds so dear.


The protesters were toting numerous signs boasting different slogans, such as “Obey and Seek Mercy” and “God Sent [Hurricane] Harvey.” Each sign was accompanied by a Scripture verse, which is what I wish to draw attention to. Westboro Baptist claims to be doing God’s work by “spreading God’s hate,” and a large part of this perceived power comes from their use of the Biblical narrative. It seems as if Scripture justifies and even encourages their ideas. Rather, I argue that they are taking verses out of context and therefore misrepresenting Scripture and the message of the Gospel.


Obey and Seek Mercy – Proverbs 14:22, Nehemiah 9:17

 A sign which read “Obey and Seek Mercy” cited both Proverbs 14:22 and Nehemiah 9:17. Proverbs 14:22 reads, “Do they not go astray who devise evil? Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.” By itself, this verse can be used as a vague condemnation for evil, though when it is put into context it becomes clear the kind of evil to which the verse refers. Proverbs 14:21 says that “whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” So, if we are to obey these verses, we are to love our neighbor and care for those around us, which logically would include people in LGBTQ communities.


The same sign references Nehemiah 9:17. In Nehemiah 9, Israel is confessing and repenting of their sins following a period of rebellion. Nehemiah 9:17 states, “They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” I think the second part of this verse is particularly interesting, as it clearly states that God is ready to forgive and merciful. This idea of God as loving and slow to anger is in direct opposition to the God WBC presents.


God Sent Harvey/Irma – Psalm 126:6, Nahum 1:3

Westboro had a few signs attributing Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma to God as well. WBC cites Psalm 126:6 in the sign, which says: “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126 is a psalm of lament, in which the community is asking God to show mercy on His people. The psalmist remembers the good things God has done and asks Him to “restore [their] fortunes.” Presumably, Westboro added this onto the sign as a way of asking God for mercy on behalf of the nation. Though, this does not explain why they believe God sent the hurricanes.


Nahum 1:3 talks about God’s wrath against Nineveh, saying “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” It seems that Westboro has interpreted this verse as evidence that God sent Hurricane Harvey to punish the guilty with His wrath. Westboro has made other, similar claims about 9/11 and natural disasters, saying that God sent these things to condemn America for being sinful or accepting sin. The thing that these claims fail to recognize is that these events do not only affect “sinners,” but they affect Christians, too.


In the Old Testament, wrath was a way in which God showed His people their injustice and sin. The New Testament is very clear that believers are saved from God’s wrath through Jesus. The difference is that in the Old Testament, God’s people entered into a covenant with God through the Law, which led to punishment from God when they (in their sin nature) broke the law. Paul makes it very clear in Romans 7:7-13 that God must punish people for breaking the covenant, which is why Old Testament believers faced His wrath. However, the New Testament and the new covenant do not result in punishment from God, because Jesus took all of God’s wrath when He died on the cross. Romans 1:17 says that the “righteous live by faith,” opposed to living by the Law. This idea is repeated in Galatians 5:18 and Paul says in Romans 5:9 that believers are justified through Christ’s blood and that we are saved from God’s wrath (which is echoed in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 and 5:9). Therefore, believers do not receive God’s wrath for their sin and wrongdoing, because we are saved through Jesus’ death and not by our good works. Because of this, it is false to say that God sent Hurricane Harvey to punish us.


Jesus Will Return in Wrath – 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

 The verses WBC selected read: “And to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” In context, Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica, which has endured much persecution but has remained loyal to Christ (verses 3-4). Paul reassures them that when Jesus returns, He will enact justice and repay those who persecute the church with affliction. Paul says that all those who believed in the gospel through the testimonies of the apostles will marvel at Christ and, ultimately, be saved from judgement through His grace. The passage does not depict a wrathful God who is acting out in anger, but a just God who is establishing righteousness.



Westboro Baptist’s message that God hates us and is punishing us is not truth because the authority they derive from the Bible is taken out of context and does not consider the Gospel and Jesus’ earthly ministry. While it is abundantly clear throughout Scripture that God hates sin, He does not hate sin because he is a wrathful God. He hates sin because he is a righteous God who desires righteousness for His people. The message of the Gospel is one of restoration, grace, and forgiveness. However, Westboro Baptist Church uses the Bible as a tool by which to condemn and hate others. It is clear to me that they are simply a hate group which has hijacked the Bible in an attempt to justify their beliefs.


Nikki Thompson is a Junior majoring in Professional Writing and Rhetoric with a minor in Religion. 

Communism as Critiqued by Karl Marx

Note: Communism and socialism are treated as synonymous in this article as they were by Marx and Engels. What is today termed ‘socialism’ (free healthcare, basic income, free education, and so on) will be called ‘social-democracy’ or ‘the welfare state.’
I will never claim to be an expert on Marx—a position that, I think, is ridiculous. This series of articles on Marx, scientific socialism, and its emergence as the radical sublation of liberal philosophy (particularly German idealism) belongs to an 18-year-old student who has, not even a year ago, just obtained the right to vote and buy cigs and, more importantly, has only been reading Marx for roughly three years. My interpretation of what I’ve read has changed drastically throughout these years and will hopefully change again.

This kept in mind, my only aspiration in writing these very short, introductory articles is to invite the reader to take up Marx themselves, for I think Marx (and, really, his method of critique) is indispensable for a generation that is feeling the brunt of neoliberalism’s attack on labor, a reemerged threat of nuclear war, a crushing crisis of student debt, a continuous militarization of the police-state, a racist ‘War on Drugs’ to feed prison labor, policies of ‘never-ending war,’ global warming and its consequential disasters, a surge in mental illnesses such as depression, and an increasing threat of white supremacy against non-white people. I cannot think of an aspect of the status quo that isn’t openly decaying in front of the masses of people.

It would be unjust, then, to not clarify why the promises of the state and the ‘American Dream’ are not materializing for the overwhelming majority, and would be even more unjust to lull the struggling workers, students, and youth into a naïve hope that ‘everything will be okay in the end.’ This is the work of contemporary capitalism’s ideological apparatus; and Marxism sets itself the task to radically critique the powers-that-be’s conception of these issues.

This means, fundamentally, that Marxism is not an impartial science which any member of any class can pick up, use, and dispose of. There are no ‘Marxian’ economics, nor are there Marxian anthropologies, sociologies, philosophies, etc. Marxism is the Kritik (German for critique/criticism) of all of these fields of study, seeing them as ideology, justifications for the continued existence of capitalist production and the theoretical practices of the ruling class, viz. the capitalist class. One cannot be a Marxist while studying, say, political economy and a non-Marxist at home. To do so would mean that one’s study is half-hearted and incomplete, for the Marxist critique of political economy necessarily ties itself to certain practical conclusions, conclusions that are favorable to communism, that show its necessary origin in the self-destructive nature of capitalist production. Marxism is not a profession, but the “ruthless criticism of all that exists” (Marx, 1843) which—as we will learn—can only be from the standpoint of the wage-laboring class.

This necessary devotion to critique and method, as opposed to dogmatism and system, is personally why I feel Marxism is a worthwhile ‘weapon’ workers, students, the youth, and, in general, all oppressed groups can use to make sense of their situations and, most importantly, change it (cf. Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach). The campaign promises of politicians in bed with the rich mean absolutely nothing, a feature of the capitalist state that has become strikingly evident with the presidency of Donald Trump and his cabinet of businessmen and women. In such a time, I’ve seen struggles erupt and criticism of the status quo arise. It is, however, pertinent that this recent wave in the class struggle does not fall for past mistakes and dead ends, but takes up a ruthless critique of both the contemporary ideology and the ‘movements’ led by liberals and the middle classes, and thus locates the working-class position in all these issues—a position, Marx will argue, that is the only position “which alone can form the real basis of a higher form of society, a society in which the full and free development of every individual forms the ruling principle” (Marx, 1867). 

On Siri and Sexism

The cliche, “Behind every great man is a great woman,” usually evokes images of John and Abigail Adams, Odysseus and Penelope, Michael Scott and Pam Beesley. In contemporary times, this patriarchal expression really could apply to all of us.

Most of us carry around our own personal assistant wherever we go. Is this assistant some unisex, gender-neutral being that gives a healthy androgyny to the underappreciated work of an assistant, thus breaking down gender norms? Unfortunately, no.

Although voice activated operating systems such as Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), and Cortana (Microsoft) claim to be ungendered – Siri, for example, will say “I have no gender” when you ask if it is a man or a woman – the default voice on all of the most popular digital assistant systems is clearly female.

Here is an introductory list of three ways these personal digital assistants fall short of advancing gender equality:

  1. Women are not objects.

The creation of a feminine digital assistant simply contributes to the anachronistic tradition of objectifying women by giving things like ships, islands, forces of nature, and now technology feminine pronouns. Since they are given names (Alexa, Cortana, Siri) and voices that are typically associated with the feminine, these digital assistants are an undeniable objectification of women despite their creators’ claims of ungendered associations. Most individuals even reference these digital assistants with female pronouns like “she” instead of “it.”

  1. Respect should always be a priority.

The simple, direct commands necessary to activate a digital personal assistant is certainly efficient. I think we need to question how this uninhibited giving of orders while expecting instant gratification will affect the non-digital world, particularly how we speak to women and people in service positions. For example, if a user wants Alexa to stop playing music, they must say firmly “Alexa, stop.” I can only hope that with the advance of technology, gentler tones and language will be the preferred form of communication with digital assistants lest certain curt behavior carry over into communication with actual human beings.

  1.  Women need a say in the way they are represented. The Wall Street Journal reports that women comprise, on average, less than 20% of technology jobs at major tech companies. Furthermore, 47% of women in the tech world reported having “been asked to do lower-level tasks that male colleagues are not asked to do (e.g., note-taking, ordering food, etc.)” – tasks often associated with personal assistant work – according to a survey of several hundred senior level women in the tech field conducted in 2015. To be clear, there is nothing inherently inferior about administrative work. It is an essential component of any successful business. The problem lies in the disproportionate number of women (According to CNN, “secretary” has been the number one job for women over the past 60 years) in the field and the systematic degradation of pink collar jobs.

It takes less than 10 minutes to change the voice on your digital assistant. I challenge you to join me in diversifying the digital assistants in our lives, breaking down gender norms, and challenging the “default” objectification of women that society offers.

With Great Power…

When my dad was younger, he was a huge fan of comic book superheroes. The X-Men, Avengers, Batman (sometimes)…and of course, Spider-Man. While he favored the X-Men, he told me stories of how he watched all the cartoons from the ‘80s on up while catching up with the Super Friends and the X-Men animated series. When he had kids and got older, he passed that knowledge down to the one person who would appreciate it: me.

Hi, my name is Aaron, and I am a comic book fan. Most importantly, I am a Spider-Man fan. I have been all my life. Yes, I admire Batman too, but Spider-Man has been, and probably always will be, my favorite superhero.

“So why do you like Spider-Man?”

There’s a combination of phrases and words that I could say that would answer this question more efficiently.

“I love the movies!”

“I love Tobey McGuire!”

“Oh man, Andrew Garfield owned the role!”

“Tom Holland killed it!”

“I used to watch the cartoons and play the games!”

Needless to say, all of the above are answers I’ve heard from other people and answers I’ve given myself. I’ve pretty much seen every movie, TV show, comic, and video game there is to see about the Web-Slinger. In my dorm room sits a huge collection of Ultimate Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man…the list goes on.

I could potentially excite you with every first appearance of the major characters, or regale you with the origin story for the millionth time, or, even better, tell you how inaccurate some of the multimedia products are from the comics. I could be typical and tell you everything.

“So why do you like Spider-Man?”

I believe in the message that he carries. The message that says Spider-Man is a man who is hated by those around him, yet still does the right thing. The message that says Peter Parker is an orphan who was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben as if he was their own son. The message that says Peter found true love and lost it in the death of Gwen Stacy. The message that says that no matter who lives or who dies, no matter how much one suffers at the hands of goblins and octopi, or even your own mistakes, that you cannot rise up again to fight the good fight.

So I learned these lessons early on in my life and took them with me to school. Kids would always pick on me and call me “Spider-Freak” because of my apparent fanboy tendencies. I would often try and tell girls how cool Spider-Man was, and they would walk away faster than the Flash. Even my own parents grew concerned with how much of an impact they thought Spider-Man had. My dad, despite introducing me to this world of comics, kept asking me to “grow out of it” and “get in the real world.”

What he didn’t realize was that the real world for me was kind of a nightmare. I was bullied, sometimes physically. I was ridiculed, sometimes abusively. I was pranked, spat on, and made an outcast. Between that at school, my home life was not much better. My parents, despite their best intentions, were fighting constantly about money and about their situation. Many times occurred where it seemed like they would divorce. My sister turned from a nice, sweet girl into someone I didn’t even recognize. The real world was unforgiving and cruel.

But I was smart enough to realize that Peter’s life was no cakewalk either. He too was bullied in high school and had to hide his true identity so as to not endanger Aunt May’s life. He too had money issues that led to him finding different ways to make money. He too had family who, albeit were kind, still found ways to not be there for him or better yet, couldn’t relate to him. And when Gwen died, he felt that he lost a piece of himself and that he failed. But the good news is that he still kept going.

“So why, oh why, do you like Spider-Man? Why not Batman? He’s so cool. He has gadgets and toys and can kick butt and can beat Superman. Why Spider-Man?”

I look them right in the eye and say it’s because “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

That phrase embodies everything that I want to do in my life. It’s my mission statement and mantra. I want to know that if I have the power to do something, and the ability to do it, I should use it to help someone else. My past is my past and that will never change, but my future is mine to control. My life is in my hands and in that I can start to spin new stories and new ideas that will help me reach out to others. My power is in my mind, body, and spirit. My responsibility is to be able to help others around me achieve their goals. It’s why I want to start a publishing company. It’s why I network with fellow writers and artists. It’s why I teach boxing. It’s why I work with publishers to help others bring their works to light. If I have the skills and the powers, what right do I have to withhold them?

At the end of the day, that is what I believe. I know that it is not easy. I realize it is sometimes hard. I know that there are days when you either want to put your costume in the trash or start wearing a symbiote. But remember this: you have the power, you are the light. Your city needs you, and it cannot shine without you. Others may see you and discredit or try to destroy you, but you must understand that they will not win in the end. Your destiny is waiting for you in the future. So as you walk off silently into the night, as you contemplate your next step, remember this invaluable lesson: that when there is great power, there must also come great responsibility.


Crazy Train” is a Baylor Mug production that will be written twice a month. We talk about real world issues using fictional characters. In addition to that, I’ll give you all classic comic strips to read and enjoy before each article. Basically, this is the place to nerd out, to review, and to talk about all the things that bother you. “Crazy Train” is a wild ride…will you join it with me?

You Know You’re in BIC When…

You live for new Mug content.

Am I right, or am I right?


You can pick up the sound of The Republic opening from a mile away.

And it sends a chill down your spine.  You still have bad dreams about plowing through around thirty pages a night in that bad boy, and the whole sexual communism thing was just kinda icky.  The message you gathered: Plato says that everyone should just leave him in charge of everything.  We see you, Plato…


Your World Cultures I professor invites you and your class over for dinner.

And you get to meet their dog.  And also eat.  But really the dog.  Do normal profs do this?


You’ve passed up late-night Whataburger runs because you’re prepping for that Cultures III exam.

There are literally ten essays you have to prepare for, and no amount of fancy ketchup is gonna lure you away from your desk—wait.  Actually, since you only have to write one out of each group of three essays, you only have to prepare for nine.  That’s just math.  Maybe you have some time for a patty melt after all…


All your BIC friends talk about is BIC.

What did you think about the reading last night?  Who would be more fun to shop with, Aristotle or Socrates?  Did you see Dr. Tatum do the worm at last year’s BIC Bowl?  All valid questions, and you can’t complain, because BIC is all you talk about anymore too.


You’re just comfortable with more extreme things than your non-BIC friends.

“Oh, thank god, we only have to read the first eight chapters tonight.”


The Allegory of the Cave is basically the allegory of your life.

If Moody was a cave.  And if you were chained to your study spot.  And if you were blinded by the sun when you left (if you ever left).  Actually, yes, that all sounds pretty accurate.


You’ve forgotten how to raise your hand in class.

It’s a BICer-eat-BICer world in the realm of classroom discussion, and if you waste precious time to raise your hand, you know that you’ll never get a piece of that philosophical discourse action.  Round table discussion feels so natural to you now that people who wait to be called on to speak in non-BIC classes weird you out a little, if you’re being perfectly honest.


The non-BIC life just seems so… unexamined, you know?

Yes, it’s a ton of work, and yes, you don’t sleep as much as you’d like to, but hey—if that’s what living the examined life takes, then you’re ready for it.  You’d like to see Socrates debate you in front of all of Athens, right?


You live for new Mug content.

What?  We said that already?  Are you sure?

The Supreme Court Justice Selection Process

Image courtesy of the New York Times

This week, Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch was featured on many news channels while he underwent rigorous questioning.  The somewhat controversial candidate spent this past week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as he attempted to complete the nomination process.  While it may seem confusing and complicated, the process for selecting a Supreme Court Justice is carefully designed to ensure that those given the position would be capable of upholding the Constitution.

The Supreme Court, or Judicial Branch of the federal government, serves a unique role in our country.  It is distinct from the other two branches primarily because of the concept of judicial review. While the legislative branch focuses on creating laws and the executive branch focuses on enforcing laws, the judicial branch focuses on determining whether or not those laws are constitutional.  Thus, Justices set out to create, not enforce, the laws of the country.  As such, Justices are intended to not be affiliated with any party to allow for the most unbiased interpretation possible.  However, Justices tend to have different philosophies on how the Constitution should be interpreted.

Therefore, the process for selecting a Supreme Court Justice involves both the Executive and Legislative Branches and not voters.  As stated in Article II of the Constitution, the President has the sole power to nominate an individual for the position.  He consults with White House staff to choose someone he thinks is qualified for the position.  The nominee then partakes in a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.  In the hearing, the nominee gives testimony and answers questions posed by the members of the committee.  The committee then votes to put the nominee before the Senate floor, a vote that must be unanimous in order to move forward.   If the vote is reached, the nominee is placed before the entire Senate.  The Senate then votes whether or not to confirm the nominee, a vote which must be a majority.  If a majority is achieved, the nominee can be sworn into office.

Although it might seem like the process for picking the next Supreme Court Justice is chaotic or skewed to one party, it was carefully crafted to guarantee the contrary. It allows for input from both parties and selects individuals in a manner that promotes a balanced interpretation of the Constitution.

Brittany Gamlen is a junior majoring in political science. 


My City, London

It has been only recently that I have come to really, truly love London—really love it.  Honestly, I am not quite sure why it took me so long—London is so easy to fall in love with.  The skyline, the river, even the indeterminable weather seem to be imbued with a mixture of English charm and busy, metropolitan life that you could never find anywhere else in the world, and I love it.  I love London.

I know the exact moment that I realized how much affection I had for this city because it was only a few days ago.  I had taken a friend’s advice and visited London’s National Portrait Gallery, the preeminent collection zone for all the paintings of old people you see in high school history books.  I was browsing through the Elizabethan section of the Gallery and stopped in front of a 1500’s portrait of Shakespeare—not your typical Shakespeare either, with the high, frilly collar and the vacant expression.  This Shakespeare was younger, rocking an earring and a drawstring shirt, looking for everything like a pirate who could bust a sick rhyme in iambic pentameter at any given moment.

I laughed out loud in the middle of the hallway, getting some weird stares from a couple of older gentlemen sketching in the corner—look at that girl, snorting at five-hundred-year-old works of art.  I did not care, though, because I had just been hit with the most bittersweet thought in the world: I am really going to miss it here.  Shakespeare would not be a five-hundred-year-old rebel with an earring back in Texas—just an old writer from someplace far, far away.

The day after I realized my love for London, a man drove a truck into the crowds on Westminster Bridge and killed four people.

I was getting ready to go out and meet a friend when I heard the news—armed assailant, possible terrorist connections.  My stomach dropped.  My heart broke a little.  Who could ever bring themselves to do something so horrible in any place, much less in a city so full of history and diversity and life?

But the Brits are masters of “carrying on”—they have been doing it for about a millennium—and the next day, London pulled itself back together, stronger than the hatred that had tried to tear it apart.  A couple days after the attack, the city held a candlelight vigil for the people who had been killed, and I was so proud of London for coming together, closer than it had been before, even after this tragedy.  The resiliency of the people of London has only made me love it here even more.

I cannot believe that my time here is already over halfway gone.  Although I am excited to get back to the States and see all my friends and family again, I know that I will hate to leave this amazing city.  I may not have been born in London, but I feel the city in my bones anyway, and I am glad that I will always have a home here on the other side of the Atlantic.

Chelsea Teague is a junior majoring in professional writing and rhetoric.

Battling Homelessness in Waco

Image courtesy of KWBU

At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, Waco ISD reported that 1,600 students (out of the 15,000 total student population) struggled with homelessness. This number increased by 500 from the previous year. Though economic factors and families moving to Waco from out of town certainly caused a spike in the numbers, Waco ISD has recently begun training teachers on how to determine if a student needs help. Students are technically homeless if they are staying in a hotel or crashing with a friend.

Students can become homeless for many different reasons, though there is a link between homelessness and abusive home situations or parents addicted to alcohol or drugs. Each situation is different, but one thing that remains the same is the toll homelessness has on the student’s education and general well-being. Homeless youth are extremely vulnerable to depression, suicide, prostitution, and other forms of exploitation. These things often occur due to a lack of stability and previous exposure to abuse.

Nationally, less than 25% of homeless students will graduate from high school. When students do not have a consistent place to live, they often end up switching schools multiple times throughout the school year. Others fail out of school due to lack of resources and the added stress of their home life. Whatever the reason, when students do not graduate from high school, they decrease the likelihood that they will find future employment. A lack of education perpetuates the cycle of homelessness for these individuals.

To help combat this issue, Waco ISD began an initiative called Sanctuary House in collaboration with Waco Housing Authority & Affiliates, The City of Waco, Junior League of Waco, and The Salvation Army Waco. Sanctuary House is designed to provide short-term emergency housing to vulnerable Waco families. Families who stay in the Sanctuary House are there for thirty days during which the organization helps them find permanent housing.

However, there are other ways to help Waco’s homeless youth. Programs such as Baylor Buddies, which pair up college students with a Waco ISD student, provide an important mentor relationship to struggling high school and middle school students. This form of stability and accountability proves very helpful to those struggling with homelessness and other forms of material poverty. As Baylor students, we do not have the resources to house homeless families. However, we can sacrifice our time to foster relationships with struggling students.

Nikki Thompson is a sophomore majoring in professional writing and rhetoric.




Flat Tax: The Fix We Need

Image courtesy of The Washington Post

It is that time of year where you give up a Saturday to sit down, sift through your finances, and figure out how much money you owe the government.  You tell yourself that it is worth giving up your weekend and the money you could spend on that vacation you have always wanted to take because the collection of taxes is a necessary evil that enables our country to run smoothly.

Taxes are important for certain areas of the economy, but the current tax system is unnecessarily burdensome and costly.  Implementing a flat tax rate would solve many of the current problems surrounding the collection of taxes.

A flat tax would streamline the process of collecting taxes.  Currently, the tax code is so complex that the average person cannot understand it.  Besides being complicated and difficult for most Americans to understand, it is expensive.  It is estimated that Americans spend $200 billion each year in taxes either by paying someone to do their taxes or from loss in productivity.

If a flat tax rate were implemented, taxes could be simplified so they could be completed efficiently and without outside help.  It would eliminate the need for the IRS, a bureau that is known for subjectively targeting specific organizations and is not cheap to operate.  Its abolishment would save the government much manpower and money.

Furthermore, the current tax code makes it easy for corporations to game the system.  Some companies use their vast resources to find loopholes in the tax code and pay less than they are actually required.  While large companies have the means to find ways to exploit the code, small businesses do not and, as a result, they are unfairly penalized by the code.

A flat tax rate would ensure that all businesses pay the same percentage.  Similarly, all Americans would pay a set percentage regardless of their income, ensuring that everyone paid a fair amount.  Families and individuals that made below a certain amount would be exempt from taxes altogether so that those in poverty would not become financially over-burdened.

Taxes might fulfill certain functions, but they do not need to be a hassle or a large expensive.  A flat tax rate would be significantly more cost effective and simple to complete.  It would cut back on crony capitalism and guarantee that all citizens paid a fair amount they can afford.

Brittany Gamlen is a junior majoring in political science. 


Travel Tips for Bears on a Budget

Image courtesy of

It goes without saying that studying abroad is an experience and a half by its very nature.  Immersing yourself in the culture, language, and food (which is my favorite part) of a foreign country is a fantastic way to spend the semester, no doubt about it.  However, what some potential study abroad-ers may not know is that spending five or six months living outside the US, particularly in Europe, presents a ton of opportunity for travel to even more foreign countries—even while taking classes, and even while on a budget.  To help you on your way, here are some helpful tips for becoming a jet-setting world traveler as a student in Europe:

  1. Understand your academic time commitment.

From my own experience in England, and from what I have heard from study abroad students living in other European countries, college across the Atlantic is a lot more hands-off than college in the States.  For example, students generally take fewer classes abroad than we do at Baylor (think three or four instead of five or six), and classes meet only one day a week.  Also, instead of dividing a student’s overall grade among several different assignments, class participation, and exams as is more common in America, final grades in most schools in Europe are determined primarily by one or two major assignments completed over the course of the semester.  Fewer class periods and less homework mean more time to plan trips to Italy!

  1. Use Skyscanner, or a similar flight comparison app.

(But really, just use Skyscanner.)

Skyscanner is a mobile app that compares the prices of airline tickets to popular destinations for whichever times you plan on travelling.  Its intuitive design makes it easy to use (even for technology failures like me), and I am convinced that you cannot beat the prices.  Using Skyscanner, I was able to fly to Ireland for around twenty dollars round-trip, and to Luxembourg for twenty-five!

  1. Stay in hostels while travelling.

I have to admit, I did not have a very high opinion of hostels before I started travelling around Europe, but really, most of them are absolutely terrific accommodation options for students on a budget.  Hostels are completely safe, often serve free breakfast, and typically cost around fifteen dollars a night per person for a dormitory-style room.  Or, if you would like a little bit more privacy, travel with a group of three or four and book a private room for just a bit more money.  Hostels are a fantastic resource for Bears abroad!

Using these tips, I have been able to see much more of Europe than I ever thought I would.  For anyone thinking of doing some travelling while they study, I hope this advice helps you to make the most of your semester abroad!

Chelsea Teague is a junior majoring in professional writing and rhetoric.