African Anglican Bishop Plans to Seek Legal Counsel After Dismissal by Dartmouth
(CNSNews.com) -- An African-Anglican bishop who had his appointment as head of a Dartmouth College foundation rescinded because of past statements he made critical of homosexuality, said he is planning to seek legal counsel, according to reports in the Episcopal News Service.
One of the groups opposed to Dr. Tengatenga's now-aborted appointment was the Dartmouth chapter of the NAACP. Concerning their actions, the bishop said, “Of all the groups to take the lead against a black person on flimsy grounds. So much for the advancement of colored people. … It is sad that such an institution can stoop so low.”
Dr. James Tengatenga, the bishop for the Anglican diocese of Southern Malawi, resigned his post there in early July and was scheduled to begin his new position on Jan. 1, 2014 as head of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation.
According to the foundation’s website at Dartmouth, its purpose is to “educate students for lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality and social justice.”
Last week, Philip Hanlon, who became president of the college in June, decided to revoke the bishop’s appointment, because, as Hanlon said, “it has become clear to me that Dr. Tengatenga's past comments about homosexuality and the uncertainty and controversy they created have compromised his ability to serve effectively as dean of Tucker.’’
Dr. Tengatenga opposed the 2003 election of Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop in the Anglican Communion. In 2011, as reported in The Boston Globe, the bishop had said, “The Anglican dioceses in Malawi stood totally against homosexuality.”
Dr. Tengatenga was also a member and former chairman of an ecumenical group of church leaders in Malawi who have taken Biblical views on homosexuality.
Shortly after his appointment to the Tucker Foundation was announced in mid-July, Dr. Tengatenga released a statement saying his views on gay-rights had evolved over time and that he now supports “marriage equality.”
“Let me state unequivocally and categorically that I consider all people equal regardless of their sexual orientation,” said the bishop in his statement. “The dignity of all should be honored and respected. As is the case with many people, my ideas about homosexuality have evolved over time.”
He continued, “So, 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. When I say that I am committed to the human rights of all, I mean all.”
The president of the Dartmouth chapter of the NAACP, Jordan Terry, sent a letter signed by some student groups and faculty opposed to Tengatenga’s appointment. Part of the letter read, “This is not a small title; it’s not a small office. … The administration has claimed that this particular dean [of Tucker] is the moral spokesman for Dartmouth.”
Susan J. Boutwell, interim director of the Office of Public Affairs at Dartmouth, told CNSNews.com that “the college will have no further comment on this matter” beyond the statement already released by President Hanlon.
Dr. Tengatenga has said that he is not withdrawing his resignation as the bishop of Southern Malawi, but he is uncertain of his future.
“It is in the Lord’s hands,” he told Episcopal News Service.