J. K. Rowling is More Christian Than Baylor University

J. K. Rowling is More Christian Than Baylor University April 5, 2024

“Today in my Harry Potter class @Baylor, we had a hard and necessary conversation about J. K. Rowling and her hatred of trans-people.” You could be forgiven for thinking this was a parody tweet, but it is, alas, quite real. Professor Greg Garrett doesn’t just teach literature at Baylor, he’s the Hanks Endowed Professor of Lit and Culture, an Hon Canon Theologian no less, with assorted fiction and non-fiction books to his name. From his Amazon author page, I learn that “Like his literary heroes James Baldwin and Marilynne Robinson, Greg moves fluidly from fiction to nonfiction exploring the big human questions,” including such vital scholarly topics as Harry Potter, comic books, U2, and the zombie apocalypse.

Alright, I’m being a bit mean, but his fiction actually isn’t terrible, from the bits I sampled. I mean it wasn’t Marilynne Robinson, but it wasn’t bad. In any case, apparently he’s being allowed to teach a whole class on Harry Potter, and apparently he felt the need to have a conversation with his students about J. K. Rowling’s terrible, awful tweets. He goes on to announce that “We decided novelist Rowling, who wrote with compassion about diversity, equity, and inclusion, is worth our attention. Twitter Rowling? Shame on her.”

Well, goodness! What shameful things has Rowling been tweeting to prompt all this drama? Presumably, Greg is talking about her very cleverly executed April Fool’s thread, in which she highlighted an array of heinous crimes committed by Scottish men masquerading as women, sarcastically calling them all “she.” Rowling has spent the week publicly defying new Scottish hate speech law, which makes “trans women” a protected class. Technically, if she returns to Scotland, the police could arrest her, but she’d love to see them try. Of course, other women who aren’t J. K. Rowling don’t have that much weight to throw around, but this is her point: She is throwing her weight around for them. It’s been entertaining and inspiring to watch.

But I guess Endowed Professor Greg at Baylor has been triggered, not inspired, and his tweet has accordingly been getting the ridicule it was begging for. The real question is, what’s Professor Greg doing at Baylor? Meg Basham has rustled up Baylor’s Statement on Human Sexuality, which clearly affirms the “biblical norm” for sexuality and describes the temptation to “homosexual behavior” as temptation to “deviate” from that norm. The statement concludes with the expectation that students won’t participate in “advocacy groups” that are “contrary to biblical teaching.”

A little more digging reveals that Baylor’s history here is…complicated. They held the line for a number of years when asked to officially recognize an “LGBT support group” on campus. But in 2022, after tremendous pressure, they finally chartered a group called Prism, with much fanfare and larded-up statements about making Baylor a more “caring community” by creating “a respectful space that embraces diverse sexual identities.” Officially, Prism wasn’t “affirming,” but we all know how this tape always plays out. In Professor Greg’s case, it appears to be playing out by being so far left that even J. K. Rowling is too “right-wing” for him.

That’s far from all, as former faculty member Christina Crenshaw has been recalling from her experience in 2021. When she questioned whether Title IX should grant biological males access to women’s spaces, she and her family were subjected to backlash from hostile Baylor students. Other students rallied to her support, but it was a sign of the times. Meanwhile, going back several years even before that, Crenshaw has corroborated an account that professors were being put through DEI training based on GLAAD curriculum. When some people complained, the university quietly removed references to GLAAD on their site, but the material remained.

All to say that while I admire Meg Basham’s righteous indignation, the various people in her mentions including Christina are right: It means precisely nothing that Baylor still has conservative language on the books. So did Calvin College, for the longest time, and well. This is an old story. I don’t have a link at hand, but some time ago, the left-wing philosophy watch-blogger Brian Leiter was raising alarms about “hateful” Christian campus policy on LGBT, and he got a groveling email from a Christian college professor assuring him that while yes his college had something on the books, it didn’t matter and everyone ignored it. Please, please don’t cancel me, Brian Leiter!

It’s especially eyebrow-raising that Professor Greg has chosen this particular moment to be triggered by Rowling’s tweets, given that she has been explicitly targeting… you know, literal pedophiles and rapists. Even if one leans left, one would think the smart leftist thing to do would be to condemn the literal pedophiles and rapists while hastening to add that not all trans people are predators, real trans lives matter, let’s all still remember not to be mean, respect pronouns, etc., etc. Yet it appears even this is now too much to ask from Baylor’s resident Honorable Canon Theologian-Professor. It’s too much to ask for the most minimal condemnation of men caught in the most appalling kinds of acts known to mankind, who are now gaming the system in hopes of being able to carry out still more appalling acts. While we’re going on about “compassion,” how about some compassion for these degenerates’ victims? No? Nothing? Yet somehow, J. K. Rowling is the one about whom we all need to have a “hard, necessary conversation” — which, as Susannah Roberts amusingly quips, should have been neither hard, nor necessary, nor a conversation, just as the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.

Whither Baylor? I fear the question is already far too optimistic. It implies there’s more than one possible direction Baylor could still take at this point in time. But as with so many other Christian universities, we passed the moment to call a doctor for what ails Baylor long ago. All that’s left now is the post-mortem.

 

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