UPDATE: According to a published reports in “Christianity Today” (here) and other media outlets, the Board of Trustees of The King’s College announced on Thursday that Dinesh D”Souza has resigned as President of the college. Apparently the George Costanza defense did not work.
In the summer of 2011, when Campus Crusade for Christ changed its name to “Cru” (no, I’m not making that up), “Christ” wasn’t the only thing that this well-respected Evangelical para-church ministry — founded by the late Bill Bright — would jettison. The year before, on August 23, 2010, The King’s College — which had been a subsidiary of CCC since the late 1990’s and is still supported by them — appointed a “former White House policy analyst and best-selling author” as it’s President, thus jettisoning a Christian liberal arts approach to higher education for a less Christian, more politically conservative approach.
Perhaps thinking that a lifelong Roman Catholic, who had married an Evangelical Christian named Dixie and was now calling himself a “non-denominational Christian” (here), would be the right man for the job, TKC’s Board of Directors “enthusiastically” announced Dinesh D’Souza (yes, that Dinesh D’Souza) as their new President. The uber-conservative provocateur, best known for his recent documentary, “2016: Obama’s America,” would now lead a college whose mission statement is:
Through its commitment to the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview, The King’s College seeks to transform society by preparing students for careers in which they help to shape and eventually to lead strategic public and private institutions, and by supporting faculty members as they directly engage culture through writing and speaking publicly on critical issues. (TKC Mission Statement)
In announcing their decision, the Board of Directors issued a statement which claimed, among other things, the following about D’Souza:
Named by the New York Times Magazine as one of America’s most influential conservative thinkers, D’Souza is a model of the ideal King’s College graduate—a leading voice that influences public opinion and public policy with ideas that compete with generally accepted, but failed ideas. (August 23, 2010 Announcement)
If recent reports are true, I’m afraid that The King’s College may have “bought” a defective model. According to an initial “World Magazine” report (here), which was subsequently picked up by mainstream news outlets (here, here, and here), Mr. D’Souza was accused of inappropriate conduct with a woman who is not his wife. Among the allegations reported on by Warren Cole Smith in his “World Magazine” article is that Mr. D’Souza and a female traveling companion (not his wife), Denise Odie Joseph II, “were apparently sharing a room for the night in the sold-out hotel.”
That charge alone, if true, would be enough to damage Mr. D’Souza’s reputation and, in my opinion, warrant his removal as President of The King’s College. On Wednesday, Mr. D’Souza launched a counter-offensive, publishing an Op-Ed (here) on the “Fox News” website and giving an interview to “Christianity Today Magazine” (here) in which he vigorously denied the main charge of sharing a hotel room with Ms. Joseph. In his article, he attacked the credibility of both Warren Smith and “World Magazine” Editor Marvin Olasky:
Olasky was on the search committee when I interviewed to be president, and he vehemently opposed my candidacy. Olasky publicly admitted that he was resigning his position as a consequence of my appointment. The reporter who wrote this story, Warren Smith, also used to work as a consultant for King’s until I decided not to renew his contract. And what was Olasky’s gripe against me? As he put it, I was seeking to make King’s a non-denominational “mere Christianity college” in the image of C.S. Lewis. This for Olasky was simply intolerable. Having nursed his grievance for two years, now apparently Olasky is using World to continue his vendetta.”
What an ingenious plan that was hatched by Mr. Orlasky. Wait two years until Mr. D’Souza speaks at a Baptist church in Spartanburg, SC and then publish lies about the facts surrounding a female traveling companion who may or may not have stayed overnight in the same hotel room as Mr. D’Souza. That’s some vendetta. I suppose that it is plausible that Mr. Smith’s sources are lying and that Mr. Olasky willfully and knowingly libeled Denesh D’Souza. Knowing that their own credibility would be called into question, it would be foolish (although not beyond the realm of possibility) for “World Magazine” to publish a story that they not only knew to be false, but which would open the magazine up for a rather large lawsuit.
However, one of Mr. D’Souza’s own admissions leaves that scenario quite unlikely. You see, in his “Fox News” article, Mr. D’Souza not only admitted that he had not yet filed divorce papers from his wife, Dixie, at the time of the alleged incident in SC, but also that he had been introducing Ms. Joseph as his fiancée. Here, in his own words, is the damning admission that should (but probably won’t) cause The King’s College Board of Directors to relieve Dinesh D’Souza of his leadership role in a supposedly Christian institution of higher learning:
I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings. Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.”
George Costanza, Jerry Seinfeld’s best friend in that iconic 1990’s sitcom, could not have said it better. Oh, he tried when it was discovered that he had engaged in “sexual relations” with the cleaning lady on his office desk at Pendant Publishing. When confronted by Mr. Lippman with the cold, hard facts, George pleads ignorance for his immoral behavior:
George Costanza: [pause] Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon… you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time.
Mr. Lippman: You’re fired!
George Costanza: Well, you didn’t have to say it like that.
Whether or not Dinesh D’Souza is guilty of the conduct that has been alleged — conduct which would be considered inappropriate for any Christian, especially the President of a “Christian” college — he should nevertheless suffer the same fate as George Costanza. Why? Not because he may have engaged in behavior which, at the very least, resulted in an appearance of impropriety (if not in fact), but because Mr. D’Souza didn’t have a clue and didn’t even think that being engaged to one woman while still being married to another was “considered wrong in Christian circles.” If that excuse flies, George Costanza will be vindicated. The intellectual and moral integrity of The King’s College, however, will not be.