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Catholic or evangelical? Confusion over D’Souza and King’s College flap

November 5, 2010

So Marvin Olasky, the editor of World magazine, the author, the coiner of “compassionate conservatism,” the guy who entrusted me with his Journalism & Religion class at the University of Texas, has announced his resignation as provost of The King’s College in NYC.

He’d given up tenure at UT to take the job at King’s a couple of years ago. And now, according to this article in Christianity Today, he’s leaving King’s to focus on running his magazine in North Carolina. Olasky will maintain his affiliation with King’s as “presidential scholar,” handling the college’s guest speaker series, the article says.

The impetus behind Olasky’s transition seems to lie in the college’s decision to name conservative Christian writer Dinesh D’Souza president. Olasky did not grant CT an interview, but acknowledged that he and the new prez didn’t agree on some things.

CT makes it seem that D’Souza’s religion is playing a large part. He comes from a Catholic background but no longer attends Mass. He belongs to an evangelical church.

D’Souza explained his Christian identity this way in an August CT article:

“I do not describe myself as Catholic today. But I don’t want to renounce it either because it’s an important part of my background. I’m an American citizen, but I wouldn’t reject the Indian label because it’s part of my heritage,” D’Souza said. “I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I’m a nondenominational Christian, and I’m comfortable with born-again.”

Still, I’m confused. Why did that same article begin with this lede?

The King’s College surprised many higher education observers by choosing Dinesh D’Souza, widely identified as a Roman Catholic, as president of the New York City school. As a best-selling author and Christian apologist, D’Souza brings prominence and a network of influential leaders to the position. But King’s decision to put a Catholic at the helm could create tension within a historically evangelical institution.

 

Am I missing something? (I say that sincerely as I don’t know much about D’Souza.) But why are they identifying D’Souza as a Catholic if he’s no longer practicing? If he goes to Calvary Chapel of all places? If he self-identifies as an evangelical? I mean, seriously. Olasky was born and raised Jewish — and actually would still be considered a Jew by many Orthodox — and dabbled in Maoism, but nobody’s referring to him as a Jew or a Maoist in this article.

And even if D’Souza speaks fondly of his Catholic background, even if that background influences him to this day, should that be a deal killer? Are evangelical Protestants still that suspicious of Catholicism, the influence of the pope, the role of the saints, the dogma, the doctrine, etc?

I don’t know, it just seems that as cozy as conservative Catholics and evangelicals have become in recent years, this wouldn’t be an issue.

But that aside, i still think it’s just weird to label D’Souza a Catholic when he no longer identifies as one.

Too bad neither man gave an interview to CT. There’s a lot more I would like to know.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Charles permalink
    February 25, 2011 12:28 pm

    I think it’s weird that you think it’s weird that D’Souza is labeled a Catholic. This is what I just pulled off his personal website, which reproduces an article about him:

    “‘A believing Catholic but a poorly practicing one,’ D’Souza said religious faith is vital to achievement. He also believes a supportive family and friends are ‘indispensable,’ as is ‘a belief in one’s own potential for good.'”

    It appears that honesty is not one of Mr. D’Souza’s strong points. Let’s also play a little with the first two sentences from D’Souza that you quote above and exchange the word “Catholic” for the word “Satanist” and see who convincing it sounds. Here goes: “I do not describe myself as a Satanist today. But I don’t want to renounce it either because it’s an important part of my background.” Or let’s imagine the Apostle Paul, after his conversion, saying this: “I don’t describe myself as a hater of Christ and his chuch and persecutor of his people today. But I don’t want to renounce such hatred and actions I took against Christ as Saul of Tarsus either because it’s an important part of my background.”

    D’Souza’s lack of candor should be evident to all. As for attending Calvary Chapel, his wife’s church, numerous unbelievers attend religious services with their spouses and other family members as part of the family’s tradition or simply to promote peace and stability in the household.

    • Will Erickson permalink
      March 21, 2011 11:05 am

      Your accusation that Mr. D’Souza is dishonesty is very weak. Do you have an axe to grind?

  2. Will Erickson permalink
    March 21, 2011 11:02 am

    I recently read that Mr. D’Souza is uncomfortable with the Catholic church because it espouses military pacifism, although this is not the official position of the church, it is actively promoted by church officials i.e. priests, teachers, etc. I am currently trying to find out more about Mr. D’Souza’s stand. I am a life-long protestant and have recently started attending a Catholic church. Although I find many positive things at this church, I find that their are a lot of very vocal people with very distorted leftist political ideas including military pacifism and anti-2nd amendment sentiment. This is coming from the Monsignor as well as others. These leftist political views do not reflect the official teaching of the Catholic church or traditional Christian belief.

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