On ISIS, Sex Slavery, Rape Culture, and Religious Fundamentalism

I recently read a disgusting story involving ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State/Da’esh and the plight of female sex slaves traded between its members. I relayed the following story to my class and asked them for their initial thoughts on slavery, but specifically on sex slavery and the exchange of female sexual slaves between men.


The story stated that a wealthy ISIS operative owned a female slave. (This is apparently not uncommon in this culture.) This ISIS operative then sold two of his daughters in marriage to another ISIS operative to be wives for him. (Again, remember that polygamy, or having two or more wives at once, is not unlawful in this culture. There is some question about having two sisters as wives at the same time.)

To one of the daughters he sold in marriage he also gave his female slave as a gift to the daughter to be her slave. However, when that daughter could not bear children for her new husband, she gave her husband that same female slave to have sex with him and bear children for him. The female slave bore him two children, but his wife claimed both boys as her own children.

Later on, one of her husband’s sons by the wife’s sister (his other wife) also had sex with the female slave.


This was the plight of one woman–a sex slave–as told in the story.

I placed the above story on a powerpoint as I read it to my class. I then asked my class for their reactions to this story.

“Barbaric!” said one student.

“Horrible!” said another.

“Who would do that?” asked yet another.

One exasperated student chimed in, “How is this legal? How is this not banned by Islam?”

“Well, this is the problem with Islam!”, replied another male student. “They have slavery and they don’t respect women.”

Most students were disgusted. One student was near tears. “How could they treat women like this?” she muttered. “Those poor women. They never had a chance.”

Another determined student bellowed from the back of the room: “This is why we need to defeat them. ISIS. We can’t let this happen!

And before I could respond, he continued: “And this is why we have to keep them from coming here to the United States. Any religion that allows THIS in its so-called “holy book” should not be allowed in this country!”

And there it was. I stood silently, looking down at the ground.

After a deliberate, silent pause, I looked up, looked around the class, and then said, “Note that I didn’t include any names in this story. Let me replace the words ‘ISIS operative’ and ‘female slave’ with some actual names and I want to ask you the same question.”

I clicked on my laptop and the following story appeared in place of the earlier one.


The story stated that a wealthy MAN NAMED LABAN owned a female slave NAMED BILHAH (Gen. 29:29).(This is apparently not uncommon in this culture.) LABAN then sold two of his daughters (LEAH AND RACHEL) in marriage to another MAN NAMED JACOB to be wives for him. (Again, remember that polygamy, or having two or more wives at once, is not unlawful in this culture. There is some question about having two sisters as wives at the same time.)

To RACHEL he also gave his female slave, BILHAH, as a gift to RACHEL to be her slave (Gen. 30:3). However, when RACHEL could not bear children for JACOB, she gave JACOB BILHAH to have sex with him and bear children for him (Gen. 30:4). BILHAH bore him two children, DAN AND NAPHTALI, but RACHEL claimed both boys as her own children.

Later on, one of JACOB‘s sons, REUBEN, by RACHEL‘s sister (LEAH) also had sex with BILHAH (Gen. 35:22).


“Now how do you feel about this account of sexual slavery?” I asked the class.

The students stared at the screen, some with wide eyes and open jaws.

Our boisterous student protested from the back of the classroom: “That’s not the same! That’s a long time ago. That’s a completely different context.”

“Actually,” I replied calmly, “It’s the exact same story, just with the names changed.”

“Yeah, but…” one student chimed in, “…this is different. This is from the Bible. This is different.”

“You’re right!”, I responded, “This is the birth of ancient Israel.”

I continued, “Isn’t it fascinating that the twelve tribes of Israel are the result of a polygamous marriage–a man married to two women at once, in fact, two sisters, which is explicitly banned in Lev. 18:18: (“And you shall not take a woman as a rival to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive.”)–and two sex slaves, Bilhah and Zilpah.”

I reiterated: “The twelve tribes of Israel are the product of one man, two wives, and two sex slaves.”

“OK,” one student interrupted, “…but this was God’s plan. God was OK with this. God didn’t punish this. This was part of his plan.”

I retorted, “First of all, you’re right. Gen. 25:6 says that Abraham had sex slaves (concubines).”

I continued: “In Exod. 21:10, God says you can have multiple wives: “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” So does Deut. 21:15-16: “If a man has two wives, one of them loved and the other disliked, and if both the loved and the disliked have borne him sons, the firstborn being the son of the one who is disliked, then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he is not permitted to treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the disliked, who is the firstborn.”

“In Deut. 22:28-29, God says that if you rape a woman, you are not put in prison, but God says you must pay a fine to her father, and you must marry her and never divorce her: “If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.”

“In Num 31:17-18, God says you can slaughter a city in battle, but spare the virgin women and force them to be your wife: Num. 31:17: “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

“In fact, this one was so popular, the Bible talks about it a second time in Deut. 21:11-14: “Suppose you see among the captives a beautiful woman whom you desire and want to marry, and so you bring her home to your house: she shall shave her head, pare her nails, discard her captive’s garb, and shall remain in your house a full month, mourning for her father and mother; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.” But if you are not satisfied with her, you shall let her go free and not sell her for money. You must not treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.”

“So yes,” I continued, “The Bible says that God commanded and/or allowed all these various forms of marriage.”

“Second,” I continued, “That’s exactly what ISIS would say. ‘This is God-ordained. God is OK with this’.”

Some students smiled, recognizing the crux of the lesson I was giving that day. Others sat silently, slowly absorbing the logical paradox and the cognitive dissonance they never before recognized. They saw that what they condemn today in Islam as practiced by ISIS is the very same practice that produced ancient Israel, at least according to the Bible.

Some students refused to see it. Others saw it, but couldn’t believe it. Others understood completely.

And this was the first lesson for the day: that what many condemn as atrocious in other religions, they embrace blindly in their own religion. Sexually abhorrent behavior is condemned when other religions practice it, but is often accepted as normal when it takes place in one’s own religion. We condemn the text of the other religion’s holy Scripture, until of course we realize that the passage is actually from our holy book.


I illustrated a second problem: Fundamentalists of one faith tend to assume that all adherents to other faiths are also literal fundamentalists, and because their Scripture says it, they all practice it to the letter today. This is not the case.

We know this is not the case because very few Christians and Jews are strict literal fundamentalists today. To be sure, there are many Christians and a few Jews who follow a strict, literal fundamentalist view of Scripture (or at least believe themselves to be doing so). But most Christians today do not. Most Christians understand that many biblical commands–many from God’s own mouth like endorsements of slavery and commands of genocide–are simply relics of the past–commands and acts done by a less civilized society thousands of years ago that are simply dismissed by today’s Christians.

Most Jews–specifically Reform Judaism–do not adhere to a strict literalist interpretation of Scripture. They are the first to say, “We know what the Bible says, and we understand that Jews in the past may have practice this, but we have matured as a society and we simply do not do that any more.” And Reform Judaism has a long, beautiful tradition of updating the biblical rules and establishing new moral regulations as society had progressed and become more civilized that do away with much of the abhorrent behavior described (and often commanded by God) in the Bible.

And yet some conservative Christians are strict literalists. They interpret the Bible literally, and believe that every word of both the Old and New Testaments to be the inerrant, infallible, unchanging Word of God. And it is most often these Christians that project their hermeneutic–their way of reading Scripture–onto Muslims, and falsely assume that all Muslims interpret the Qur’an in the same way. They believe that since all Christians should read that Bible fundamentally, all Muslims do read the Qur’an fundamentally.

This is simply not the case.

The fact is most Muslims do not interpret the Qur’an in a strict literalist manner. A majority of Muslims around the world have also updated and adapted their Islamic moral teachings to do away with the most horrific and problematic teachings of the Qur’an–in the very same way that most Jews and Christians have done with their Scriptures.

And yet, there are certain sects of Islam–in our present case, Wahhabi Islamic Militant Jihadists, who comprise the core of ISIS–who want to see the world interpret the Qur’an in the same strict literalist manner that they do. And they want their fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture to be the civil law of the land, governing all peoples, whether they are Muslim or not.

Ironically in America, this is the same desire of strict literalist Christians, who want to legislate their fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible over all Americans, whether they are Christian or not, and turn civil law into the Christian equivalent of Shari’a law.

Christian fundamentalists see all Muslims as Islamic fundamentalists because they don’t know any other way of reading Scripture. And as a nation we cannot allow fundamentalists of any religion to govern our country and turn the United States into ground zero of a religious war.


There was one additional point from the above sex slave exercise that I shared with the class: the reason that sexual misconduct against women is largely dismissed, excused, and tolerated today in this country is that it is interwoven into our predominant religious beliefs. Sexual slavery is part of the Bible. Bigamy. Polygamy. Rape. The taking of prisoners of war (the pleasing virgin ones) as wives. This is part of the Bible. Not only that, this is part of the Bible often commanded and authorized by God.

The rape culture that exists today in the U.S. that terrifies women, and which many men fail to recognize, is the result of a problematic theology that has either accepted, openly or tacitly, or has largely dismissed the problem of the sexual mistreatment of women because of the very unwillingness of many Christians to critique these same practices in the very Scripture that they claim to be their moral authority.

Or put another way, because Christian fundamentalists in America are unwilling to acknowledge that there are horrific, amoral teachings and practices against women in the Bible, they resist addressing, or often even acknowledging, the culture of misogyny that exists in America today. For if they acknowledged the poor treatment of women in America today, they would at some point in the discussion have to question the teachings and practices involving women in the Bible, and fundamentalists are simply never going to do that.

So we get what we get: the belief that if the Bible is OK with the very rape culture it details in verse after verse, and the misogyny, and the suppression of women’s voices, and their authority, and their freedom of expression–and if God inspired his Holy Word–then it can’t be all that bad today. Right?

And this is the problem.

 

On Taxes, Marriage, and the Poor: Lessons from Luke 3:7-11

“John the Baptist Preaching” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. 1733. Fresco. Cappella Colleoni Gallery, Bergamo, Italy.

Verse of the day:
Luke 3:7-11:

7) “John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8) Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
9) Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
10) And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’
11) In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.'”

First, I find it fascinating that John chastised people who came to be baptized.

Second, I find it all the more fascinating that his advice was to give of what you have to those who had nothing.

So let’s review:

1) Don’t come to church just for religious rites.
2) Give away what you have to the poor if you want to be a true child of God.

So tell me: which social, religious, or political party, group, or body best encapsulates this very fundamental, very ‘Christian’ teaching of not worrying about the details of religious rituals and rites and doctrines, and instead focuses on giving goods to and caring for the poor?

And if you’re going to argue that biblical Christian principles should not be legislated when it comes to giving your hard earned money away (i.e., taxes and welfare and health care), then why are you arguing that biblical Christian principles should be legislated on other social issues like same-sex marriage?

When Someone Says, “America Should Get Back to ‘Biblical Principles'”

When Someone Says, “America Should Get Back to ‘Biblical Principles'”, this is all too often what they mean:

HT: Joel Watts

dear occupy people, you are now officially off message

The Occupy movement appears to have lost its way.

What began as a protest against Wall Street – the symbol of corporate corruption, greed, irresponsible risk, the exploitation of consumers, and a culture of entitlement resulting in a lack of appreciation for taxpayer-funded bailouts from a government paid for by the very corporations they assist – that protest has turned into a free-for-all.

Even Librarians are angry. That's a bad sign. (Actually, it's a good one.)

Today, rather than sticking to the original core message of rooting out corruption and advocating for corporate (and thereby government) reform, the leaderless OWS movement has devolved into a random mass of hostility and anger. And while hostility and anger are and should be the reaction to the corporate-government two-step of corruption and irresponsibility that has become American capitalism, some OWS protesters, perhaps due to the lack of leadership, a loss of focus, or the simple thrill of being a part of a protest, have quickly crept away from the core message and are now demanding things that make the entire movement look foolish and, well, utterly dismissible.

The Occupy movement has attracted many college students who want to voice their outrage and offer their support to the cause. And while I applaud those with every advantage who stand up for the disadvantaged, it seems that the Occupy movement has unfortunately deteriorated into an inarticulate smörgåsbord of, dare I say, greedy demands from otherwise entitled individuals who want their college tuition paid (without having to serve in the military or Peace Corps in exchange), or see this as an opportunity to demand that their maxed out credit cards be paid off.

Today, many Occupy protesters are arguably spoiled college students with clothes on their backs and bills they don’t want to pay. Somehow they think that by camping out in their own personal Woodstock in between runs to the local indie coffee shop (because Starbucks is corporate), they’re going to accomplish something beyond making themselves look like lazy freeloaders Tweeting in the park while others are out applying for their jobs. And rather than do as many of us have done and go to Junior College, take our pre-reqs, then transfer to a state college, working an entry-level job to make ends meet, they sit and demand free college education at the college of their choosing.

Rather than enlisting in the army and defend this country, or enlisting in the Peace Corps and directly serving an underdeveloped nation where the REAL 99% live, they’d rather demand that someone else do it (as if corporations are ever going to really give a crap about dealing with poverty). Rather than using their hands and feet for physical work and volunteering with worthwhile projects to make the world a better place, many would rather sit on their asses all day and complain about how no one handed them a six-figure salary right out of college. I’d be curious to know how many of those participating in the Occupy protests have ever spent as much time, energy, and Facebook status updates volunteering with a non-profit organization or advocating against something other than a bank to whom they owe money.

Rather than stick to the core message so well articulated in the cartoon to the right, this leaderless revolution has sprawled into lists of ridiculous demands to such an extent that now Stephen Colbert (a supporter of the original movement) is even poking fun at it. The movement seems to be spinning out of control and becoming the second chance for hippie high school seniors and college freshmen like the “elected spokespeople,” Justin Wedes and “Ketchup,” who appear to be bent on making up for the fact they weren’t elected Student Body President. Or to put it as my wife put it, the current wave of OWS protesters:

…are identifying themselves as the “99%”, but are not demanding that the “1%” end world hunger. They are asking for their college tuition to be paid. They are asking for their credit card debt to be forgiven. They are asking for privileges that only the world’s wealthiest 1% enjoy, and they want it for free.

By making demands of “free college education” (elite schools of course, not state schools), “open borders migration (anyone can travel anywhere to work and live),” and “Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all (Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books”),” the OWS movement leaves itself open to ridicule and charges of naïveté, disorganization, idealism lacking practicality, and insensitivity to those who are truly suffering around the world.

The Occupy movement needs a coordinated plan of action and a leader. And before you respond with the typical, “That’s not how this protest works,” let’s take a lesson from the Tea Party. At the other end of the political spectrum, I recall the early, leaderless days of the Tea Party movement. I remember how they held up the example of the starfish – a headless organism that was comprised only of “action arms” – as its model of organizational leadership. I remember NPR’s Steve Inskeep commenting that it was appropriate, as it had neither a brain nor a backbone. Then, I remember the Tea Party getting organized, crafting a message, and ultimately taking the House of Representatives.

Ironically, in spite of its questionable ideology, what the Tea Party wanted most is what the Occupy movement wants most: government-corporate reform. I commented earlier that the first one to see past the oceans of ideological diversity on these polar opposite ends and unify both groups behind the singular message of government/corporate reform wins, and would become the leader of the single greatest revolution in this country since, well, The Revolution.

There should absolutely be reforms. We should let failing businesses fail in a capitalist system; that’s how it works. Banks that took exploitative risks should not (have) be(en) bailed out. And yes, corporations should pay taxes sans loopholes. And no, corporations are not going to do less business if they have to pay more tax. That argument is laughable, albeit threatening. Corporations will expand business and work even harder to make up the difference, because that’s what they do – make money. There should be more corporate responsibility. Corporations that received bailout funds should have imposed upon them salary caps and bonus limits just like in the NFL. And we should demand this and not settle for anything less. Alas, this was the entire point of the initial Occupy Wall Street movement!

But the movement has gotten WAY off message. And now that some of the protests are turning violent, the public is losing its stomach and patience for the cause. And the more ridiculous, off-topic demands that are stacked up and demanded by students who should otherwise be studying for their macroeconomics final, the less the public cares about and supports the cause.

It’s time to get back on message: government and corporate reform. When you have marched as much as Dr. West has marched, and served as much as Mother Theresa has served, and advocated for as many causes as U2 has advocated, then and only then can an upstart movement demand more than one thing at once. Until then, keep it focused and keep it simple.


If you’re looking for activities that are consistent with your core message that will actually get the banks’ attention, try “Bank Transfer Day,” or as I call it, Occupy a Different Bank. I ditched Bank of America three months ago and transferred all accounts (mostly loans) to a local credit union. Pull your money out of their vaults, and you’ll get the reform you’re seeking.

cutthroat or genius? google to index facebook comments

Google vs. FacebookWhen I first read that Google now plans to index Facebook comments so that they will now appear in search results, I thought to myself, “Welp, that’s it. I’m done with Facebook.”

Then I realized, that’s EXACTLY what Google wants me to do.

By announcing that they will begin crawling and indexing Facebook comments, Google has taken the shrewd step of deliberately (but legally) exacerbating the one thing about which Facebook users are most wary: privacy concerns. While Google makes clear that they will only crawl comments on public Facebook “pages” and apps, and not on private user pages, I am still left confused as to whether comments on a “user page” that is visible to the public will be indexed.

Of course, the answer doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that with this simple action, Google will introduce enough additional doubt and fear into the minds of Facebook users (who are already suspicious of privacy measures due to “upgrade fatigue” from Facebook’s seemingly monthly changes to its functionality and user interface), that they will leave Facebook for something else.

And, because the recently introduced Google+ is now a viable alternative with a greater ease of use and superior graphics (now that Facebook has become nearly as painful to the eyes as MySpace once was), more and more Facebookers will be flocking to Google+, where I am guessing public and private comments will not be indexed and available for search.

It may be cutthroat, but it’s also genius, and may be just the thing Facebook needs to get it to stop selling out its existing users in the name of expanding its user base.

what exactly is biblical marriage?

Have you ever wondered what real “Biblical Marriage” looks like? Before you go arguing for “traditional,” “biblical” marriage, take a look at this handy dandy chart.

Biblical Marriage Chart

Chart of Biblical Marriage

So essentially, you can have your choice of anything from the chart and you can still be considered “biblical.” You raped someone? That’s ok, just pay your fine (to her father) and make sure you marry her.

Or, if you’re a soldier, perhaps take a prisoner of war and marry her.

You can choose any one of them – after all, they’re all biblical and often ordained by God himself.

Now, for those of you who will argue, “but the New Testament superseded the Old Testament. I believe in ‘New Testament’ marriage,” well, for you there’s 1 Cor. 7:8:

“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am.”

and, of course, 1 Cor. 7:25-26:

“Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are.”

and 1 Cor. 7:32-34:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband.

So, you basically have the choice of not getting married if you want to be truly biblical.

Of course, if you are totally weak and completely lack self-control, then as a concession, you can marry (1 Cor. 7:9). Just remember what Paul warned you in 1 Cor. 7:28b:

“Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.”

Then again, some might respond and say, “Hey now, you’re leaving out the verses that say nice things about marriage, like Romans 7:2:

“Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband.”

and Matt 19:5//Mark 10:8//Eph 5:31 all citing Gen 2:24, noting that people, in fact, do get married. But is that not most likely referring to one of the acceptable forms of the “biblical marriage” from the above chart? And there are other verses that speak about marriage, but should not the fact that the above verses are also “biblical” be a bit disconcerting to those who argue for “scriptural authority” for marriage?

Now, please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not advocating against marriage. I love being married to Roslyn, and we are quite happy together. But we define the arrangements of our partnership, and we chose to love each other. Likewise, any two other consenting adults, regardless of race or gender, should be able to enjoy the same joys and benefits of marriage that Roslyn and I do.

That is to say, if you’re going to argue that same-sex couples cannot get married because it is not a ‘sanctioned’ form of marriage in the Bible, then be prepared to defend those forms of marriage that are sanctioned in the Bible, like forcibly marrying rape victims and prisoners of war, for according to the Bible, these too are sanctioned by God.

Or, you can stop discriminating against the civil liberties of homosexual individuals while hiding behind some mythical construct of “biblical marriage” and let people who love one another and want to commit their lives to one another actually get married.

At the very least, before you go advocating for “traditional” or “biblical” marriage, it’s probably not a bad idea to read the text and make absolutely sure you actually want to argue in favor of “biblical” marriage.

Have a nice day.

HT: Travis Spackman via Kim and the Rabbi with thanx to nonstampcollector.

lest we forget: what happens to steve moore and to pepperdine now that amanda knox has been acquitted?

Steve Moore, Amanda Knox, and Pepperdine University

Steve Moore was fired from his job as Deputy Director of Public Safety at Pepperdine University shortly after publicly suggesting that Amanda Knox might not be guilty of murder. Knox’s conviction was overturned on appeal. Pepperdine owns property and has an overseas study-abroad program in Florence, Italy. Moore sued Pepperdine for wrongful termination. Pepperdine settled the case out of court.

Now that Amanda Knox’s murder conviction in Italy has been overturned, the fallout from Amanda Knox’s acquittal has begun. And because of the peculiar actions of Pepperdine University in 2010, the case affects some of us here at home, specifically with regard to issues of free speech, intellectual freedom, and social justice.

Let us ask the question: what happens to Pepperdine now that Amanda Knox has been acquitted?

Pepperdine, which was recently ranked as the 5th “Douchiest school” in America by GQ, actually fired their own Deputy Director of Public Safety, former FBI agent Steve Moore, after he appeared on CBS News’ The Early Show and suggested that Amanda Knox might not be guilty of murder. Pepperdine administrators took him aside quietly and asked him not to comment any further on the matter, as they wanted to keep Pepperdine’s name out of the story in Italy. Pepperdine owns property and has an overseas study-abroad program in Florence, Italy, and may not have wanted one of its own speaking out against Italian officials.

Not long after Moore refused to be quiet about Knox’s innocence, Pepperdine fired him. Of course, Pepperdine claims they cannot comment because it is a “personnel issue,” and “wholeheartedly disagrees” with any characterization that Moore’s termination came about for any reason other than various job performance-related issues (and certainly not out of retaliation for not obeying orders to stop speaking out on behalf of a woman who was, in fact, not guilty of murder).

The question now remains: what happens to Pepperdine for firing an employee who was right?

Moore sued Pepperdine for wrongful termination, and after trying a few legal maneuvers to avoid going to trial, Pepperdine financially settled with Moore for wrongfully terminating him when all he was trying to do was stand for justice. So at the simplest level, the answer is that Pepperdine had to pay a financial penalty for wrongfully terminating an employee.

This is Pepperdine’s (and certainly many other organizations’) tried and true modus operandi: pressure someone into silence or departure on one issue by threatening them with another issue. While Pepperdine’s Director of Public Information, Jerry Derloshon, “disagrees wholeheartedly with Moore’s characterization of his dismissal,” Vice President and General Counsel Gary Hanson wrote in an e-mail regarding Moore’s termination, “We will of course respond appropriately to the lawsuit that Mr. Moore has filed.” Apparently that “appropriate response” included paying Moore a large amount of cash out of court for wrongfully terminating him without having to admit it.

But must Pepperdine also pay another price, say, to their credibility? Can a private Christian institution continue to pay mere lip service to issues of free speech and social justice when they immediately and consistently surrender both when they threaten Pepperdine’s private interests? Not only did a Pepperdine professor became the poster child for the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California, but then, after numerous attempts at damage control by Pepperdine to claim that the university does not pick sides on ballot initiatives (note they didn’t denounce Prop 8 as civilly unjust, just that they “don’t pick sides”), the Dean of the Pepperdine Law School joined and ultimately led Prop 8’s legal team to appeal a California court’s decision to overturn it. Apparently social justice is a worthy cause at Pepperdine until the donor base (or internet campaigns) say otherwise.

Will Pepperdine’s U.S. News and World Report rankings continue to wallow in the second tier of universities because, in addition to insisting that all research and tenure decisions be subject not only to the University Tenure Committee, but also to a “Religious Standards Committee” (which may or may not be comprised of members with advanced degrees in religious studies), the school also limits the intellectual freedoms of their faculty members by making a public example of non-tenured staff members who will not follow Pepperdine’s “suggestions”?

Will Pepperdine answer questions about why they fired a man for speaking out on behalf of a woman who has been found to be not guilty?

And how much longer will Pepperdine students, faculty, and staff stand idly by and hold the coats of the administration as it continues to cave in on issues of civil rights, freedom of speech, and social justice?

A portion of Pepperdine’s Mission Statement reads: “Pepperdine affirms … that truth, having nothing to fear from investigation, should be pursued relentlessly in every discipline.” Apparently Pepperdine relentlessly pursues truth as long as it is in their financial and religiously ideological interests to do so.

So, please allow a brief letter from a concerned alum:

Dear Pepperdine,

Please publicly apologize to Steve Moore.

Thank you,

Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.
Seaver Grad Alum, Class of 2000


More:

September 2, 2010 – ABC News – Amanda Knox is Innocent of Brutal Murder, Retired FBI Agent Claims

September 30, 2010 – CBS News – Amanda Knox Exclusive: Former FBI Agent Fired by School for Speaking Out on Knox Case

September 30, 2010 – Pepperdine Graphic – Casting doubt on Italian murder conviction got him fired Moore says

October 30, 2010, Pepperdine Graphic – Moore files lawsuit over termination

July 12, 2011 – Injustice in Perugia – Steve Moore Vindicated in Lawsuit With Pepperdine University

July 25, 2011 – Pepperdine Graphic – Moore reflects on newest findings in Amanda Knox trial

Ocober 3, 2011 – MSNBC – Amanda Knox Murder Conviction Overturned

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