Letter: Liberal Intolerance at Dartmouth
To the Editor:
I have read of Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon’s decision to withdraw the appointment of Bishop James Tengatenga as dean of the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth. While I am sure he did not take this step lightly, I must say, with great respect, that I believe it to be quite wrong. I have known Tengatenga for several years. He is an African first, proud of his roots and culture, but also widely travelled, scholarly, wise and sophisticated in his grasp of the complex realities of justice. He has a far greater understanding of how to bridge cultural differences toward the goal of reconciliation than most of us in North America.
He recently came to Vancouver as the keynote speaker at our annual Anglican convention. I am not sure what Hanlon knows of church matters, particularly here in Canada, but both I and our diocese in this city have been at the forefront globally of the struggle for justice and dignity for the LGBT community. We have endured and fought against intolerance and homophobia in the Christian church for almost 30 years. Tengatenga came here to build bridges between Africa and Canada on the contentious matter of homosexuality. He received three standing ovations. I can assure Hanlon that no one with homophobic opinions would have received such a welcome here. His wisdom, humor, intelligence and grace far transcend the narrow confines of a single issue.
After three decades of opposing intolerance and discrimination in both church and society, I must say to Hanlon that liberal intolerance is no more acceptable than its opposite. Both are dangerous to civil society and to a free university. Inclusion must by definition embrace different cultural perspectives — or else it is not inclusion at all. Dartmouth has lost an extraordinary opportunity to forge a relationship with Africa through one of its outstanding intellectual leaders.
Bishop Michael Ingham
Diocese of New Westminster
Anglican Church of Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia