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On Easter Monday, Inside Higher Education, an online trade paper covering academia, published an article about a presumed free-speech controversy that had emerged during Holy Week at Holy Cross College, a 175-year-old Jesuit institution in Worcester, Massachusetts. Here is how Inside Higher Ed wrote it up:
The Fenwick Review, a conservative student newspaper at the college, published an article about the writings of Tat-siong Benny Liew, who holds an endowed chair in New Testament studies at the college. The article featured quotes from Liew’s writings suggesting that Jesus of Nazareth may, in some New Testament writings, be seen as a feminine figure, and in other writings may be best read as a “drag king.” Liew also suggested that Jesus may have had “queer desires.”
Inside - Higher - Ed - Media - Dispute—which
In Inside Higher Ed, as elsewhere in the secular media, the dispute—which had led more than 14,000 Catholics to sign an online petition calling on Holy Cross to dismiss Liew—was strictly about the academic freedom of a Catholic-college professor whose scholarship doesn’t align with traditional church teaching.
Holy Cross’s president, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., rushed to Liew’s defense, pointing out that Liew’s “drag king” essay, titled “Queering Closets and Perverting Desires: Cross-Examining John’s Engendering and Transgendering Word across Different Worlds,” was a full nine years old, having appeared in a 2009 book that Liew had co-edited. It was unfair to penalize Liew on the basis of some decade-old thoughts about Jesus that weren’t “intended for an undergraduate classroom,” Fr. Boroughs wrote in an official statement. Not only that, but “[s]cholars in all disciplines are free to inquire, critique, comment, and push boundaries on widely accepted thought.” On the other side, Robert J. McManus, the Catholic bishop of Worcester, issued a statement calling Liew’s theories “blasphemous” and averring that “academic freedom …, particularly in the fields of theology or...
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