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The Catholic World Report Blog
Then: Dinesh D’Souza leaves Catholic Church. Now: He leaves wife.
October 16, 2012 04:26 EST
By Carl E. Olson
Dinesh D’Souza has been a busy man these past few years, writing several books, debating leading atheists, and appearing regularly on FOX and other television networks. As World magazine notes, “He broke into the Christian conference and megachurch market in 2007 with the release of a book that year, What’s So Great About Christianity.” In a 2009 interview, D’Souza spoke of being raised in a Catholic home in Bombay, but described the faith of his youth as “crayon Christianity” and lacking maturity. He also said:
I married an evangelical Christian in 1992, and after our daughter was born in 1995, we started attending a nondenominational church in the Washington D.C. area. But my faith remained lukewarm, wounded, you might say, by the influences of secular culture. Only when we moved to California did we start attending a Calvary Chapel church, and I found people who took their Christianity very seriously and whose faith shaped their whole life. This also began to happen with me. Basically I went from being a crayon Christian and a lukewarm Christian to being a mature and passionate Christian.
In 2010, to the surprise of many, including myself, D’Souza took the position of President of King’s College in New York City, a Protestant school with Calvinist heritage (its founder, Percy Bartimus Crawford, was a Presbyterian minister). In a Christianity Today piece, D’Souza was quoted as saying he was “quite happy to acknowledge my Catholic background; at the same time, I’m very comfortable with Reformation theology. … I’m comfortable with the evangelical world. In a sense, I’m part of it.” The piece also reported:
D’Souza’s wife, Dixie, is an evangelical, and the family has attended Calvary Chapel, a nondenominational evangelical church in San Diego, for the past 10 years. He has been invited to speak in several churches and colleges, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.
“I do not describe myself as Catholic today. But I don’t want to renounce it either because it’s an important part of my background. I’m an American citizen, but I wouldn’t reject the Indian label because it’s part of my heritage,” D’Souza said. “I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I’m a nondenominational Christian, and I’m comfortable with born-again.”
At that point, I began to wonder, “What, exactly, is D’Souza trying to accomplish?” He spoke of “mere Christianity”, but he was not an Anglo-Catholic with serious theological chops (along the lines of C.S. Lewis, author of Mere Christianity, Dorothy Sayers, etc.); rather, he seemed to be more of a theistic opportunist whose exact creed and doctrinal home could morph and move according to the needs of the market and the angle of the spotlight (D’Souza reportedly makes $10,000 per speech).
More recently, D’Souza produced the controversial movie, 2016: Obama’s America. In fact, he has focused quite a bit on President Obama in the past three years, also writing two books about him: The Roots of Obama’s Rage and Obama’s America. That solidified my impression that D’Souza, however sincere in his political positions, was a man who often put politics before theological conviction. Put another way, isn’t it strange that the president of a Christian college would spend most of his time fixating on criticizing and “exposing” the sitting POTUS? I think so. And this most recent news, just reported by World magazine, doesn’t help matters in the least:
About 2,000 people gathered on Sept. 28 at First Baptist North in Spartanburg, S.C., to hear high-profile Christians speak on defending the faith and applying a Christian worldview to their lives. Among the speakers: Eric Metaxas, Josh McDowell, and—keynote speaker for the evening—best-selling author, filmmaker, and Christian college president Dinesh D’Souza.
D’Souza’s speech earned him a standing ovation and a long line at the book-signing table immediately afterward. Although D’Souza has been married for 20 years to his wife, Dixie, in South Carolina he was with a young woman, Denise Odie Joseph II, and introduced her to at least three people as his fiancée.
Finally, near 11 p.m., event organizer Tony Beam escorted D’Souza and Joseph to the nearby Comfort Suites. Beam noted that they checked in together and were apparently sharing a room for the night in the sold-out hotel. The next morning, around 6 a.m., Beam arrived back at the hotel and called up to D’Souza’s room. “We’ll be down in 10 minutes,” D’Souza told Beam. D’Souza and Joseph came down together, and Beam took them to the airport.
The next day another conference organizer, Alex McFarland, distressed by D’Souza’s behavior, confronted him in a telephone conversation. D’Souza admitted he shared a room with his fiancée but said “nothing happened.” When I called D’Souza, he confirmed that he was indeed engaged to Joseph, but did not explain how he could be engaged to one woman while still married to another. When asked when he had filed for divorce from his wife, Dixie, D’Souza answered, “Recently.”
The piece, written by Warren Cole Smith, goes on to report that “D’Souza filed for divorce only on Oct. 4, the day I spoke with him.” It also notes that King’s College is aware of D’Souza’s martial problems. And, as of yesterday, D’Souza has reportedly “suspend[ed]” his engagement to Joseph, who is apparently a young (late 20-ish?) writer and blogger with a strong interest in right-wing politics.
This is perplexing, of course, because of the very questionable morality of D’Souza’s actions (I think it is safe to say that most conservative Evangelicals have a rather high view of marriage and sexual propriety). But equally stunning, to me, is that D’Souza would so brazenly and publicly present Joseph as his fiancée, thus opening himself up to all sorts of criticisms and, I’m sure, partisan attacks. D’Souza, for better or worse, has emerged as a leading spokesman and intellectual leader within conservative Evangelicalism; the appearance of such impropriety—as the facts currently appear to stand—does not speak well of his judgment. It provides, for instance, a large target for those who advocate for “same-sex marriage” and who wonder how those Christians who divorce can present themselves as defenders of the sanctity of marriage. Thankfully, the nature of marriage does not stand or fall based on the actions of one man or many men. But D’Souza’s reputation will surely take a hard hit due to this recent report, and I don’t see how he can be defended, not even if he attempts some sort of “mere marriage” defense.
Carl E. Olson
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.