A New Scandal in American Evangelicalism – Professor Marc Ellis Dismissed from Baylor

WACO, Texas (ABP) – A Baylor University professor is fighting dismissal charges that supporters say are aimed at silencing a dissident voice in America’s Jewish community.

According to published reports, Marc Ellis, university professor of Jewish studies and director of Baylor’s Center for Jewish Studies, said during a Nov. 21 speech to the American Academy of Religion he has become a victim of “selectively enforced” policies regarding practices that are routinely overlooked.

Ellis, an expert in Holocaust studies and liberation theology, said former Baylor presidents defended his outspoken opposition to U.S. and Israeli policy toward Palestinians. He claimed current Baylor president and former Bill Clinton prosecutor Kenneth Starr was personally involved in efforts to fire him, a charge denied by Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman.

Neither side is discussing details of the charges. Ellis has hired a lawyer to fight dismissal of a tenured professor. Several high-profile individuals have come to his aid. Princeton scholar Cornel West, feminist theologian Rosemary Ruether and Archbishop Desmond Tutu co-sponsored an online petition on his behalf to “stop persecution” of a dissident voice.

Fogleman told the Waco Tribune-Herald that the charges against Ellis have nothing to do with his exercise of academic freedom, but due to privacy rules, the details of which she could not go into without the professor’s permission.

Read on…

and sign the petition, if you are against new case of academic bullying, for ideological reasons.

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Here is the statement made by Professor Marc Ellis about this at the recent meeting of the American Academy of Religion:

 

Thank you for your concern/interest/inquiry regarding my situation at Baylor University. Below is the statement I made to those in attendance in in San Francisco on Monday, November 21, 2011 at the American Academy of Religion session honoring my work. The AAR entitled that session “The Persistence of the Prophetic: Honoring and Engaging the Work of Marc Ellis.”

You are, of course, free to share this statement to the AAR session as appropriate.

“The kind honor you bestow upon me once again tonight is paired with a painful irony arising from the honor which Baylor has bestowed upon me for 13 years as a University professor.

That has been a blessing, for not everywhere can one find a respite to speak a truth that often offends powerful structures. Former Baylor University Presidents Herbert Reynolds, Robert Sloan, John Lilley, Bill Underwood and David Garland were protective of me against tide of criticism which powerful others swept to my feet through the years. About that I have remained relatively silent, but very grateful. Those university Presidents made a not insignificant contribution to my family’s well-being. Thus, I wondered when Kenneth Starr became President if the protection would change. Still, I encouraged those who grumbled pre-judgments against President Starr to give him the benefit of the doubt. Since then by many counts, he has served the University in a way that has reassured many. This is important in a place where some of you have questioned hiring practices against gays, lesbians, Muslims, Hindus, and others.

“Although some may focus on such limitations, until June 29 of this year I candidly found it generally otherwise. June 29 was the day I learned of a secret University investigation against me begun in March of this year for alleged offenses reportedly routine at Baylor, but which are selectively enforced, with a resultant chill on academic freedom. Two days later, on July 1, I was informed that President Starr had approved charges against me. After that my job duties as longtime director of the Center for Jewish Studies began to be systematically eroded, most recently leading to Baylor’s cancellation of the invitation to Cornel West.

In fact, in mid July my fall classes were unilaterally cancelled. Then, on the eve of this honor – Saturday, November 19 to be exact, I learned that charges (which I have yet to see) were filed with the Baylor Faculty Dismissal Committee on November 16. Whether the American Academy of Religion timing was to set embarrass me I cannot say. What I can say is that it would be dishonest of me to accept this honor as a Baylor professor without saying at least something to not mislead you. At a minimum I must acknowledge the awkwardness of this moment in the midst of so many pleasant ones spent with so many of you for whom I have such high regard.”

In fact, in mid July my fall classes were unilaterally cancelled. Then, on the eve of this honor – Saturday, November 19 to be exact, I learned that charges (which I have yet to see) were filed with the Baylor Faculty Dismissal Committee on November 16. Whether the American Academy of Religion timing was to set embarrass me I cannot say. What I can say is that it would be dishonest of me to accept this honor as a Baylor professor without saying at least something to not mislead you. At a minimum I must acknowledge the awkwardness of this moment in the midst of so many pleasant ones spent with so many of you for whom I have such high regard.”

“I do not wish to embroil you in what I see as essentially a battle over MY academic freedom. So, I must, while acknowledging gratitude to Baylor for the past thirteen years, also acknowledge the painful struggle which continues with what is becoming the future Baylor. I would not want, later, for any on you as friends and colleagues to ask: “Marc, why didn’t you tell us rather than to remain silent?” I speak briefly now. Given what I currently understand of the rules of the Baylor process I will, for now, honor the process by not discussing the specifics, except to say that I believe this is a pretext to silence an independent voice at the place for which I have had deep appreciation. And I would be remiss in not expressing appreciation for the willingness of Cornel West and Rosemary Radford Ruether to co-chair a committee in support of my academic freedom at Baylor.”

(Source, HERE)


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

2 thoughts on “A New Scandal in American Evangelicalism – Professor Marc Ellis Dismissed from Baylor”

  1. Christian Zionism is potent, and I salute Professor Ellis for challenging its control in a university as prominent as Baylor. thanks for bringing this to our attention, Danut

    Like

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