Bishop James Tengatenga who resigned from his position as Anglican bishop of Southern Malawi Diocese to take up a job as a lecturer at a university in the United States of America (USA) has had his job offer withdrawn following his comments supporting the Anglican church’s opposition to homosexuality .
Tengatenga was appointed dean of the Tucker Foundation, the spiritual hub on Dartmouth College’s campus, in July by a search committee, but almost immediately, comments Tengatenga had made against homosexuality that aligned with the Anglican church’s views began to spread online.
Controversy erupted after word circulated that Tengatenga opposed the 2003 election of the Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop, and asserted in 2011 that Malawi’s Anglican provinces remained “totally against homosexuality.”
While Tengatenga quickly put out a statement that said he considers all people equal regardless of their sexual orientation and he supports marriage equality, Phil Hanlon, the college’s new president, ultimately decided to revoke the appointment.
“Following much reflection and consultation with senior leaders at Dartmouth, it has become clear to me that Dr. Tengatenga’s past comments about homosexuality and the uncertainty and controversy they created have compromised his ability to serve effectively as dean of Tucker. The foundation and Dartmouth’s commitment to inclusion are too important to be mired in discord over this appointment,” Hanlon wrote in a letter on his website.
The Episcopal News Service reported Thursday that Tengatenga, who was in May this year elected chairperson of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC),said he plans to seek legal counsel.
The Dartmouth chapter of the NAACP wrote a letter signed by numerous student groups, staff, and faculty saying that its members were “deeply troubled” by the appointment of Tengatenga.
The Malawian bishop is a major player in the 85 million member Anglican Communion. He is chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, a representative body that meets every three years, as well chairman of its standing committee, akin to the board of directors.
Tengatenga, for many years, has been at the centre of national policy dialogue, playing a major role to stop former president Bakili Muluzi’s failed third-term bid and spoke against the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s oppression, among others.