Trouble is brewing in the gay-friendly Ivy League. With students set to arrive back for classes in a few weeks, Dartmouth College has been trying to keep their latest scandal as quiet as possible. And they’ve successfully managed to do so… until now.
Last month, it was announced on the college’s blog that James Tengatenga, pictured here, would lead the college’s Tucker Foundation. The foundation serves to “educate Dartmouth students for lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality, and social justice.” Tengatenga will also be the college’s “moral spokesperson,” whatever the hell that is.
The only problem: Tengatenga is, or at least was, a major homophobe.
Currently, Tengatenga serves as the diocesan bishop of southern Malawi. As a member of the Anglican church, he has publicly supported the church’s antigay positions with enthusiasm and regularity.
Additionally, Tengatenga is the chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, which facilitates work between churches in the Anglican Communion, where he claimed it was his duty to “hold the church together” as more and more western churches welcomed same-sex marriages and openly gay bishops and priests.
But it doesn’t stop there. In 2003, Tengatenga opposed the ordination of Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, as Bishop of New Hampshire, telling the Los Angeles Times that he was “angry” and felt “betrayed” by the church over the matter.
And just two years ago, he publicly supported excommunication, the most severe punishment that churches can deliver, as punishment for any bishops who supported same-sex marriage.
With a history like that, questions have been raised as to whether or not Tengatenga is fit for the job of the college’s “moral spokesperson,” especially when Dartmouth prides itself on being so diverse. The college, one of the best academic schools in the nation, is regularly rated among the country’s most gay friendly, although, interestingly, it did not make the top 20 list this year.
The college’s own diversity page makes this claim:
“At Dartmouth, differences are embraced and ideas are challenged. Our diverse community of students, faculty, and staff come together to share perspectives, learn, and grow.”
In a statement released by Dartmouth’s public affairs office a few weeks ago, Tengatenga wrote: “Let me be clear. I support marriage equality and equal rights for everyone, and I look forward to working with everyone at Dartmouth — everyone. I believe that discrimination of any kind is sinful.”
Hmmm… That’s quite a reversal from a man who, just a few years ago, was stridently antigay.
Evidently, Tengatenga’s views have “evolved,” always a good thing. However, we can’t help but wonder how much the fancy Dartmouth salary and benefits package may have factored into his change of heart.
We will withhold moral judgement until we see whether the good bishop’s actions speak louder than his contradictory words.
Photo credit: The Dartmouth.