As a result of a story in World, a Christian news magazine, Dinesh D’Souza, director of the controversial movie “2016: Obama’s America,” is resigning from his post as president of The King’s College in New York City.
The story alleged that D’Souza, who has been married for twenty years, attended a Christian conference in September with a twenty-nine-year-old he introduced as his fiancee while also sharing a hotel room with her. Despite denials of some of these details in a FoxNews.com column, D’Souza admitted that while he is in the process of getting divorced, he is also engaged to this woman. He received anonymous advice that doing so was permissible for Christians, but insists he did not commit adultery because he did not share the room with his fiancee.
In addition to making “2016,” D’Souza has penned several books including 2007’s What’s So Great About Christianity, a work of popular apologetics. While infidelity, divorce, and remarriage afflict people of every political persuasion and faith, D’Souza’s public incident is certainly embarrassing for the Christians he served and catered to with much of his work.
According to this Daily Beast story, King’s College was already getting impatient with D’Souza:
“[m]embers of the King’s faculty and board alike had grown hostile to D’Souza’s presidency over what they saw as a failure to earn his reported million-dollar salary. D’Souza had spent much of the past few months promoting his documentary, 2016: Obama’s America, and his high profile in the media was seen as rarely benefitting the college. It may even have been seen as a detriment: According to a former staffer familiar with the college’s public relations, King’s employees have been explicitly tasked with disentangling D’Souza’s extracurricular activities from the college’s reputation.”
It may be tempting to think of D’Souza’s plight as karma. His anti-Obama movie is high on circumstantial evidence, guilt by association, and partisan grievances. In his defense at FoxNews.com, D’Souza accuses a right-wing rival, World editor and former King’s College provost Marvin Olasky, of publishing the story as ideological payback over the direction D’Souza was taking King’s College.
Whichever is true – the only significant aspect of the World story D’Souza forthrightly denies is that he shared a hotel room with his new fiancee – the great takeaway from this incident is that it looks like D’Souza simply got caught up in his own celebrity. Instead of tending to his duties as university president, he was producing and distributing a movie based on questionable grounds with dubious scholars. It’s also telling that he got advice, from people he does not cite, that conveniently justified what he wanted to do. For someone who described his work as a “ministry,” D’Souza was curiously ignorant of basic Christian teachings on divorce.
Just as there was more to “2016” than could have been captured in the review I wrote for IVN, there is probably more to D’Souza’s side of the story. It’s too soon to tell what effect this will have on the rest of his career. He certainly made a lot of money making a movie that capitalized on the fears of many Red State Republicans who believe that President Obama is somehow insufficiently American. But his disgraceful exit from King’s College also fuels the public image of Christian leaders as greedy and morally and spiritually bankrupt in the mold of Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.