Additional Updates via Alumni for the Wofford Way
Below you will find the latest updates to this ongoing discussion:
Alumni Letter to Administration
Dear Provost Schmitz,
It has come to the attention of many Wofford parents and alumni regarding a blasphemous and spiritually offensive topic by a Religion Department professor who required a class to participate in a discussion of an article that asserts that Jesus Christ was a homosexual.
After a thorough review, a conclusion can be made that the assigned article showed no scientific, no historical, and no theological evidence to the author’s premise that Jesus, and Mary, were homosexuals. Neither were the students given adequate alternative references or readings to develop a balanced context and allow critical thinking for any intelligent discussions of this disrespectful article.
If you are not familiar with the specific course under the “New Testament” listings, attached below is the “Queer Christ” article presented to students for their comments.
Challenging college students to look at controversial issues from different perspectives is definitely healthy for their academic and moral development, but it is theologically irresponsible for a religion professor to rationalize that such a sacrilegious article can be offered to provide “just food for thought” when there are dozens of other debatable issues in religion for more relevant biblical discussions. A student not grounded in Christian faith may easily become convinced of the homosexual label placed on Jesus.
Parents who annually spend over $50,000 for their child to be educated at a Christian, Methodist-affiliated, South Carolina college have higher expectations from Wofford College than to have their children presented with false religious narratives involving unproven portrayals of Jesus Christ as a homosexual.
As one alumnus minister who reviewed this article succinctly quoted : ” Man does not mock God’s son, Jesus Christ.”
Mockery may be a mild description here. A more appropriate criticism may be heresy, defined as holding opinions opposed to generally accepted religious beliefs. The author’s opinions illustrate desecration of over 2,000 years of historical and theological Christian orthodoxy.
The Religion professor’s conscious decision to present such unsubstantiated content clearly exceeds the limits of educational Christian pedagogy in terms of addressing Holy Scripture. Most young students are too intimidated to publicly object to such contentious subjects with experienced professors who control their grades.
A couple of quotes form the author :
” I count myself in the vanguard of people who are reimaging Christ as queer …”
” He is a bisexual-transgender because I did not want to limit Christ’s sexuality.”
” I had helped develop gay-friendly theologies.”
The contemporary pictures and iconography are replete with false images that resound with contempt for an inviolably sacred deity. Ministers, parents, and Christian believers should be personally insulted and outraged by the provocative secularism coming from the faculty at Wofford College.
Dr. Schmitz, as you read this article, you may begin to suspect that the author’s commentary and the professor’s goals are simply attempts to create a political dog whistle to publicize the gay community’s efforts to attach their own ideology to the life of Jesus Christ, especially since these pictures and icons are personal interpretations and without a shred of evidential proof.
Jesus loves everyone equally. Isn’t it a bit self-serving for any of us to place Jesus into a box that fits our own current agenda ?
Is there any redeeming value for a Wofford student to be forced down this road of disinformation within the context of a religion course, and which may be the student’s only religion course while at Wofford ?
Suppose that another professor subjected his/her class to a similar “think-out-of-the-box” exercise with a theory that Mohammad, the spiritual leader of Islam, was purported to be a Jew or a Christian.
Or conducted a class discussion that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites due to genetic deficiencies created by God.
Neither of these inferences contain any truth, but the catalog listing of such discussions would result in a deafening, belligerent bellowing in the Wofford halls of academia claiming that the professor was a religious bigot or a racist, and the faculty would demand a public retraction or disciplinary actions against the professor.
But what have you heard from the Wofford faculty regarding this current irreverent class presentation ? Crickets.
Use of the “N” word or any perceptions of racial tropes are taboo at Wofford, yet sacrilegious portrayals of enduring Christian tenets appear acceptable.
What happened to the Justice and Equity enforcement in the Wofford administration’s JEDI Committee’s equity demands for fairness ?
Is the rapid decline of Christianity in America being exacerbated by similar blasphemous ideology being taught at Wofford College and throughout higher education ?
I request that you respond to the Religion Department’s justification for allowing tenured professors to cross that line from their academic freedom of expression into academic irresponsibility of offering distorted and unproven religious topics for classroom discussions.
Wofford students, parents, and alumni are due a retraction, apologies, and assurance of future discussion regarding the limits of academic responsibility for presenting reasonable debatable dialogue to students.
Thank you for your consideration for providing oversight of the parameters of presenting balanced educational opportunities in all the academic departments at Wofford College.
Carroll Player, DDS
Update from Richard L Myers surrounding the use of Charles Jones father’s name in the opposal of JEDI recommendations:
“Dear Wofford Trustees,
Independent Wofford group joins prestigious Alumni Free Speech Alliance
Alumni for the Wofford Way, Inc. (AWW), an independent Wofford College organization unaffiliated with the college’s officially sanctioned alumni organization, has joined the Alumni Free Speech Alliance. The Alliance is a national organization that includes similar groups from Cornell, Davidson, Lafayette, MIT, Princeton, the University of Virginia, Washington & Lee, VMI, and Yale. It is dedicated to preserving academic freedom and viewpoint diversity on the members’ college and university campuses.
Alliance members are mostly alumni, but the organization also includes faculty members, students, parents, and others. Members share ideas, information, and operational advice on how best to promote free speech among faculty, students and alumni. Alumni for the Wofford Way’s representatives in the Alliance are AWW President Hunter Quick (Class of ’71) of Charlotte, N.C.; and Vice President Mike Benston (Class of ’68) of Dallas, Texas.
“Wofford College has a long history of educating its students to become well-rounded, broadly informed, independent, and critically thinking individuals who recognize all human values while rejecting shortsighted and misguided ideologies,” Quick said. “Wofford College has a long-standing commitment to scholarship, academic discipline, respect for all people and established faiths, vigorous debate and the open expression of all ideas, regardless how popular — attributes that are essential for an exceptional liberal arts education. We are dedicated to safeguarding our distinguished college’s untarnished reputation.”
AWW is a coalition of almost 4,000 loyal followers dedicated to upholding traditional core values of the college, founded in 1854 by Spartanburg Methodist minister and businessman the Rev. Benjamin Wofford. The school was South Carolina’s first private, liberal arts college to integrate its student body more than a half-century ago and is considered one of the most free-thinking colleges in the South. However, AWW opposes many of the proposals that have been included in an agenda known as JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion), which has been created, identified, and advocated by Wofford College President Nayef H. Samhat, his cabinet, and a growing number of faculty members.
“We are convinced that many of their JEDI efforts are unsound, unnecessary and counterproductive,” Quick said, and “students, professors, alumni and others should not be afraid to openly and honestly express how they feel about these issues without fear of reprisals.”
Response of the use of my father’s name to oppose JEDI recommendations sent in from Charles Jones:
“Dear “Alumni for the Wofford Way”
Risk Assesment Response sent in below from Michael Benston:
“A Risk Assessment
My assessment is only focused on one issue: Is the Critical Race Theory Ideology Being Introduced Into The Wofford Community? It is not my intent to discuss the JEDI Recommendations to The Board of Trustees. I understand others have addressed these in another forum.
Some of you will find the tone of my assessment factually blunt and unambiguous, in contrast to that received from the opposing viewpoint. I have practiced for forty years as a financial auditor interacting with client Boards of Directors and as an expert witness in civil litigation. As the parable goes: Someone has to tell The Emperor he has no clothes.
Attached is a complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The Plaintiff, a teacher, is suing the local School Board alleging that her Civil Rights were violated, and she was discriminated against for refusing to willingly participate in Critical Race Theory (CRT) training and indoctrination as a teacher, and then subsequently refused to indoctrinate students in this ideology.
This complaint is brought to your attention because the litigation represents an Excellent Primer on what CRT is, how it is taught, including some of the exercises and drills that are used in indoctrinating teachers and students. Reading this complaint will introduce you to: Affinity Groups, White Fragility, Privilege Walks (2 steps forward, 1 step back), White Privilege, etc.
The complaint is validated by a Letter of Finding from the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (also attached) wherein a finding was made that the Plaintiff’s Civil Rights were in fact violated in a number of the plaintiff’s assertions. As set forth in the complaint, the Letter of Finding was mysteriously “suspended” shortly after Biden took office.
It should be pointed out that the term CRT is only used once in the complaint ( para. 4). In Wofford’s rhetoric CRT has been “reimagined” and an acronym of “JEDI” (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) is used. These terms are the four pillars of the CRT Ideology. The terms are consistent with the rhetoric of President Samhat and the English Department. An excerpt from President Samhat’s 2020 Vision Statement demonstrates the direct correlation with the language in the complaint:
“Immediate (Summer and Fall 2020) actions. We will (Highlighting added):
* Provide anti-racism and anti-bias training for the campus community.
* Review Campus Safety procedures and commit to police-oriented anti-bias and anti-racism education.
* Create a new student marketing committee and schedule unconscious bias training for the student committee and staff in the college’s Office of Marketing and Communications.
* Incorporate anti-racism and anti-bias education into the FYI curriculum.
* Relocate the Back of the College memorial to a more visible location.
* Create a new Black Alumni website to support the group’s history and tradition of excellence. Follow this with a new website to feature women’s history.
* Recommit to eliminating implicit bias through the college’s Search Advocate Program.
* Evaluate and develop new strategies for the recruitment of underrepresented students.
* Renew efforts to increase the number of NPHC organizations on campus.
* Engage academic departments in consideration of diversity in their existing perspectives in curricula going forward.
* Support with internal funding the AAC&U Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation program.
* Sponsor a symposium that considers Wofford College and race relations.
* Engage a cohort of faculty in a yearlong workshop on inclusive pedagogy led by Teach.Equity.Now.
* Review the Student Handbook and disciplinary processes for the purpose of finding and removing biased policies or practices.”
Consequently, as the above and similar litigation makes their way through the courts, Wofford College, as well as other institutions, could be exposed to adverse litigation, depletion of financial resources and negative publicity. Federal and State Civil Rights Laws are colorblind. As the litigation above indicates, “Systemic” Discrimination is a two-way street. Wofford College’s exposure to this type of risk should be evaluated in your upcoming meeting. Unlike a School Board, in a College environment, this risk could extend to the student level.
In summary, based on the above, any alleged assertion that Critical Race Theory Ideology is NOT being introduced into the Wofford Community, is false and is misleading to The Board of Trustees.
C. Michael Benston (’68)”
In an obvious response to Alumni for the Wofford Way’s ongoing information updates, the following was posted by President Samhat this week to Wofford College students, faculty, employees and, perhaps, the Board of Trustees:
“Over the past year, the Wofford College community has taken a close look at justice, equity, diversity and inclusion through the lens of our past, present and future. Like other private colleges founded in the pre-Civil War South, Wofford has a complicated history with both shining moments and times during which we did not live up to our mission and core values.
Frankly, it is all too easy to be thin skinned when our college receives criticism of any sort, but Wofford College did not get to be a nationally ranked liberal arts college by allowing defensiveness to cloud self-reflection, inquiry and progress.
In August, the college’s Board of Trustees will meet to carefully consider the 30 recommendations of the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion steering committee. I have worked with the board for the past eight years, and I could not be more proud of the direction in which they have led our college. Their leadership has yielded a successful $470 million comprehensive campaign, the renovation or construction of 11 campus facilities, record diversity and academic excellence in enrollment, and increased engagement in the Spartanburg community. I know they will thoughtfully review the JEDI report with the same keen focus on Wofford’s future. The college will share next steps following the retreat.
For now, I ask for your continued support, encouragement and faith in our process. At times it has not been easy, but I continue to be grateful for the individuals and groups who clearly have the college’s best interest at heart.
Misinformation continues to abound, but know this: Wofford College remains committed to its mission and core values, and the academic program, student experience and physical campus will only improve with our efforts.