Let me stress that I was not a member of the NoZe Brotherhood during my years at Jerusalem on the Brazos. I definitely was not cool enough and there was a good chance that my GPA was not high enough (my stab at taking Hebrew was a disaster) — or both.
But I had friends in the slightly secret society that was the NoZe and some of them were even capable of clever, non-profane humor on occasion. However, when you are a satirical society at the world’s largest Baptist university, you simply have to make fun of the sacred cows that are grazing everywhere on campus. And when young, loud and often crude college males start making fun of religion the results can get ugly.
So what happens when a NoZe brother ends up, as an adult, becoming a political gadfly who needs the votes of millions of people in church pews? Obviously, ink will be spilled after tips from those on the other side of the political asile. The Politico headline proclaimed: “Paul’s college group mocked Christians.” Here’s the top of the story:
Rand Paul’s Kentucky Senate campaign drew a round of startled media attention this summer, after GQ reported that he’d played hair-raising pranks as an undergraduate at Baylor University in the early 1980s.
Issues of the newsletter published by Paul’s secret society, the NoZe Brotherhood, during his time at Baylor reveal a more specific political problem for the Kentucky Republican: The group’s work often had a specifically anti-Christian tone, as it made fun of the Baptist college’s faith-based orientation.
Paul, the son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, beat back charges in the Republican primary that his libertarian views put him outside the GOP mainstream. A practicing Christian, he has backed away from some of his father’s more radical views on cutting government programs and withdrawing the American military from conflicts abroad. But Paul’s Democratic rival, Jack Conway, has sought repeatedly to cast Paul as out of sync with “Kentucky values,” and the NoZe newsletter may provide more fodder.
The NoZe Brotherhood, as the group was called, was formally banned by Baylor two years before Paul arrived on the grounds of “sacrilege,” the university president said at the time. “They had ‘made fun of not only the Baptist religion, but Christianity and Christ,’ ” President Herbert Reynolds told the student newspaper, The Lariat.
I know from personal experience that the late President Reynolds had a very thin skin, but that quote is simply a riot. By the way, who is Reynolds quoting in this quote inside of a quote?
What about many of the charges leveled in this article? Please understand what Baylor alumni understand. It’s hard to take seriously anything that a NoZe says when discussing the affairs of the NoZe. But the whole point of the society was to make fun of Baylor and, especially, the top administrators. Obviously, that meant making fun of Baptist culture.
Some NoZe scribes were better at this than others. Were many of these satirical scribbles crass? You betcha.
However, Baylor knows the NoZe. Check out this detail in this laugher of a story.
The newsletters were retrieved from the Baylor University Library by Democrats opposing Paul. In response to the initial GQ report, he dismissed “National Enquirer-type stories about [Paul's] teenage years,” while Paul denied the most extreme allegation: That he’d “kidnapped” a fellow classmate, attempted to make her smoke marijuana, and then forced her to “worship” a god called the “Aqua Buddha.” The undisclosed fellow student also later told a reporter that she’d gone along with the prank.
The NoZe Brotherhood was founded in 1926, according to an account in Baylor’s magazine, a social club for smart, irreverent young men at the Baptist school whose irreverence may naturally have targeted the religious university authorities.
As for the newsletter, “In the 1970s, its format and content changed, carrying more topical and controversial, stories,” according to another Baylor Magazine account, to which a university spokeswoman referred POLITICO. That official history avoids detailing the group’s irreligious tendencies, but they were front and center in Paul’s time, and the newsletters offer the context for the strange, high-profile campaign flap. At a Christian school, the group focused explicitly and repeatedly on religious targets; the Aqua Buddha was just one jab in that direction.
Yes, they store The Rope in the Baylor library.
That does not surprise me. I am surprised that I was at Baylor from 1972-78 (including graduate school) and I do not remember the Aqua Buddha. That sounds like rather mild NoZe material, to me.
Oh well, what a flashback. I hope Paul’s enemy’s political opponents realize what a joke this is.