When the president of Dartmouth College offered a prestigious appointment to a prominent Anglican bishop about a month ago, the announcement was met with immediate opposition over the bishop’s history of anti-gay statements. Now, Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon has told Bishop James Tengatenga of the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi thanks but no thanks. The bishop is out of a job.
When Tengatenga won the appointment as head of Dartmouth’s William J. Tucker Foundation, a campus institution charged with leading “spiritual and moral work at the College,” he resigned his bishop’s post and publicly stated his new support for gay marriage and gay rights.
Now he must figure out what to do as an unemployed cleric in a country where homosexuality is a criminal offense that could lead to 14 years in prison.
Before announcing the “evolution” of his views, Tengatenga had called for the excommunication of Anglican bishops who supported same-sex marriage, said that he felt “betrayed” by the church’s appointment of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and affirmed that the Malawian provinces which he represented were “totally against homosexuality.”
Those earlier statements outweighed Tengatenga’s more recent pronouncement in Hanlon’s estimation.
“The foundation and Dartmouth’s commitment to inclusion are too important to be mired in discord over this appointment,” Hanlon stated, according to the Boston Globe.
Tengatenga’s appointment was opposed by several student groups as well as the Dartmouth chapter of the NAACP, which wrote a letter questioning the appointment.
“Dartmouth’s new spiritual spokesperson must be a vigorous advocate for the rights of all members of the Dartmouth community – in word and in deed,” the NAACP letter said. “We are not yet confident that Bishop Tengatenga meets this most basic standard.”
The newly jobless Tengatenga fired back. “History now has it on record that truth and justice lost and bigotry won and that the Dartmouth NAACP led in the defamation of an honorable black man,” he said in a written statement.
SOURCES: Boston Globe (2), Atlantic Wire