D’Souza Tries to Explain Himself

Afternoon update: D’Souza has resigned as president of The King’s College.

Let me just make a few things clear up front: I don’t care that Dinesh D’Souza is engaged to another woman while still legally married to his wife. I recognize that the editor and publisher of WORLD have a history with D’Souza at The King’s College, which may explain, in part at least, their desire to expose him for conduct unbecoming a sanctimonious moralizer good Christian person who rakes in the dough lecturing about other peoples’ moral failings. WORLD’s editor Marvin Olasky and its publisher Warren Smith have been subjects of intense criticism here at RD, for their promotion of “Christian worldview” conspiracy theories, and, in Smith’s case, for his remarks that a Mormon president would be “dangerous.” I hardly thought The King’s College was a legitimate institute of higher learning before D’Souza ran it, or after. (Read an account of my visit to TKC, while it was still under Olasky’s leadership, here.)

That said, WORLD has a history of calling out, or at least reporting on, fellow evangelicals’ wrongdoing. One instance was the magazine’s indictment of Ralph Reed’s casino double-cross of evangelicals with Jack Abramoff, even as other evangelicals closed rank around him. Another was an investigation into The Family’s C Street house. 

In this case, they’ve exposed D’Souza as a fraud.

D’Souza has given an exclusive interview to Christianity Today, and has posted a statement on his website, which does not deny his relationship with his new, very much younger fiancé, but does deny that he and Denise Odie Joseph shared a room at the “Truth for a New Generation” conference in September. He asserts that Smith and Olasky have a “vendetta” against him, to which the only possible response is this, because of course D’Souza should know all about bizarre vendettas against people. He has rested his entire career for the past four years—a quite lucrative one—on his crazed claims that the president of the United States is a scary brown infiltrator with a slutty, un-American mother, an “anti-colonial” father; a clandestine Muslim socialist who will cause the downfall of America as we know it. His film is being used as Bible study for teenagers.

In both the CT interview and in his statement, D’Souza says he and his wife were separated for two years, and that he was trying to do the honorable thing by getting engaged to Joseph to legitimize their relationship. He says he consulted a lawyer who gave him the green light to get engaged while still legally married. D’Souza says, “I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings. Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong.”  

Hold on one holier-than-thou minute. D’Souza, according to press releases sitting in my inbox from conference organizer Alex McFarland, was the keynote speaker at a conference that “will present the Christian worldview and teach others to defend it,” and that was designed “[t]o help Christians to understand their faith, work through troubling questions, and ultimately, stand up for Christianity within the culture in a manner that is reasoned, educated, and winsome.” (I know, I know.) If you’re the keynote speaker at a conference whose “worldview” you’re purporting to present and defend, shouldn’t you know its central principles?

What’s more, D’Souza’s sudden laxity around his own divorce (isn’t that always the case?) is at odds with his previous pronouncements that “we should live up to our vows and preserve marriage as a lifelong commitment,” and “[h]igh rates of divorce in the West can be accounted for by the moral force generated by the secular ethic.” At least he hasn’t blamed the “secular ethic” for his own failure to know the Christian worldview rules, even as he “presented” and “defended” them. So far. 

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email