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Tengatenga Criticizes College, NAACP

Bishop Tengatenga has made further intemperate comments following his angry e-mail to Dartblog yesterday in which he implied that race was part of the negative reaction to the College’s offer for him to lead the Tucker Foundation (“… justice lost and bigotry won and that the Dartmouth NAACP led in the defamation of an honorable Black man”). Yesterday the Episcopal News Service (ENS) quoted an e-mail from Tengatenga concerning the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP):

“Of all the groups to take the lead against a black person on flimsy grounds,” Tengatenga said. “So much for the advancement of colored people … It is sad that such an institution can stoop so low.”

According to ENS, Tengatenga was also directly critical of the College:

Tengatenga, who was elected as ACC chair in 2009, and also became chair of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, told ENS on Aug. 15 that he is “saddened” by Dartmouth’s decision. “They have chosen to trust bigotry over truth and justice.”

The Bishop also noted that Dartmouth has not formally notified him that it has withdrawn its offer, but once it does so “he intends to seek legal counsel.”

In an e-mail to the Valley News, Tengatenga appeared to criticize the Dartmouth community, too:

“I am very disappointed with the decision,” Tengatenga wrote in an email. “As to what I was bringing to Dartmouth as new dean? They will never know now and so no point in talking about it. The search committee saw it but the community refused to accept it and so it is. They built a man of straw and went on to beat it. My side of the story is no longer important. They have theirs and they told it and even debated it and never once wanted to know mine. As such, it serves no purpose for a victim to go on or it will sound like sour grapes.”

Given that Tengatenga’s own statements to the College community appeared to be heavily wordsmithed, and that he was repeatedly criticized for not being sufficiently responsive to concerns about his past statements, the above quotation appears to be little more than self-justifying.

Sources have informed Dartblog that Tengatenga has been a loose cannon with regard to the press over the past month: for example, he commented publicly on his hiring prior to the College’s official announcement. As a result, Dartmouth appeared to be constantly playing catch-up in its news releases and overall presentation of Tengatenga’s candidacy.

Addendum: During the entire current affair, former NH Bishop Gene Robinson has remained silent. I left a message asking for his views on Tengatenga on Robinson’s home phone several weeks ago and he did not respond. Given Tengatenga’s outspoken position against Robinson’s appointment, one would expect Tengatenga to have reached out to Robinson; and perhaps Robinson would have expressed some sort of support or forgiveness for Tengatenga.

The current Bishop in New Hampshire, Rob Hirschfeld ‘83, did comment to ENS yesterday:

“As Christians, our posture is one of hospitality; that’s how we are called to be,” he wrote in an e-mail to ENS. “I also recognize that it was a bold appointment considering how politically charged American colleges tend to be. As an alumnus, I have some familiarity of the climate at Dartmouth. Bishop James’s effectiveness, despite his conciliatory work in the Anglican Communion and his powerful statements of openness and support of the LBGTQ community, would also have been complicated by the apparent indefinite role of the Tucker Foundation.

“If the Dartmouth College decision took place within the councils of the church, I think we would have benefited from some holy conversation that would have led to a deepening of communion and reconciliation. I would welcome that. We see that such a conversation is probably not what the college administration bargained for in filling this vacancy, so the revoking of the appointment is sad, but understandable. I pray that some healthy reflection will proceed out of this whole event.”

As did the Bishop in Connecticut, according to a piece in the Boston Globe:

Bishop Ian Douglas of the Diocese of Connecticut, who has known Tengatenga for years and serves with him on the Anglican Consultative Council, a worldwide representative elected body, said that Tengatenga played a crucial role in keeping the Anglican Communion from splitting apart in the last decade, following Robinson’s election and controversies over other issues.

“It’s an incredible lost opportunity — I would go so far as to say a travesty to justice with respect to James and a compromise of what academic institutions are supposed to stand for with respect to trying to seek a higher truth through academic freedom and genuine conversation,” Douglas said.

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