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USD Blacklisting Speaker Over Gay Marriage Support Creates Fallout

Evening Edition

Tina Beattie, a professor of theology & religion at the University of Roehampton in London, whose speaking appearance at USD was canceled for her support of same-sex marriage, talks to KPBS. And Larry Hinman, a USD professor, shares reaction from the students and faculty.

Aired 11/5/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Tina Beattie, Professor, Theology & Religion, University of Roehampton, London

Larry Hinman, Professor, Philosphy, USD

Gerard Mannion, Professor, Systematic Theology and Ethics, USD


The University of San Diego revoked a British theology professor’s speaking invitation last week because the professor signed a letter supporting civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.

Aired 11/2/12 on KPBS News.

The University of San Diego has withdrawn its speaking invitation to an English Catholic theologian. The professor signed a letter supporting civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in the United Kingdom.

Tina Beattie, a British theologian, writer and broadcaster.

The visit had been planned for more than a year.

Tina Beattie, a professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Roehampton in London, was scheduled to give a lecture on how women are represented in art depicting sin and redemption at the University of San Diego on November 8.

The Catholic university withdrew that invitation on October 27. In a letter, University President Mary Lyons explained it was because Beattie publicly dissents from the church’s moral teachings. That dissent, she wrote, is inconsistent with the mission school's Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, which was supposed to host Beattie's lecture, and "with the intentions of those who have financially supported the Center."

Beattie was one of 27 prominent Catholics who signed an August letter to The Times of London supporting the extension of civil marriage rights to same-sex couples, a step that she said is not out of line with Catholic academic traditions.

“I only question those questions of morals and social ethics that Catholic theologians have always questioned or we would never change," Beattie said. "We’d still be living as they did in the Middle Ages.”

Beattie said the withdrawn invitation raises concerns about the school’s commitment to academic freedom. The University of San Diego did not respond to requests for an interview by this story’s deadline.

KPBS' Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to this segment
KPBS Intern Rashmi Chugani assisted in this segment.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 5, 2012 at 11:41 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

"Beattie said the withdrawn invitation raises concerns about the school’s commitment to academic freedom".


Furthermore, it raises interesting legal questions - just because an institution is "private" does not mean they are exempt from state law.

If an applicant to this university is gay and mentions something that reveals this in their essay, will they be disqualified?

According to California law, those gay couples who wed before Prop. 8 was struck down are legally married and recognized as such by the State.

There are thousands of same-sex people who are legally married under California State Law.

I guess USD thinks all those people are immoral and the "moral" people of the world should just pretend they don't exist?

If it was the Middle Ages, I wonder if USD officials would get out the torches and pitchforks??

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Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | November 6, 2012 at 11:16 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

It sounded to me as if University President Mary Lyons turned a non-issue into an issue by not having her facts straight despite people trying to inform her that she was in error on several points. That's not impressive. Neither is this fear of ideas. Very poor trait in someone supposedly teaching young people to learn and think.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 6, 2012 at 11:59 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

Would a catholic school want a speaker to come that is spreading falsities and condoning abnormal behavior that is forbidden by the bible, which is the foundation of their religion?

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Avatar for user 'Hardcover'

Hardcover | November 7, 2012 at 2:36 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

I'd not be surprised to find Doug Manchester is behind this.

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Avatar for user 'SoCalMan'

SoCalMan | November 8, 2012 at 9:10 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

To JeanMarc:

If USD wants to be recognized as a viable, accredited, and competent university, then yes.

If USD wants to promote genuine exploration of the Catholic Faith without fear of what an investigation of their beliefs would reveal, then yes.

If USD wants to find truth by observing and interacting with the world outside the Church walls, and exploring it though intellectual investigation rather than clinging to ignorance, then yes.

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Avatar for user 'akvsst'

akvsst | November 13, 2012 at 8:55 p.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

To Hardcover:

He is somewhat behind this. The Union Tribune has not covered one bit on this fallout only because Douglas Manchester has not allowed anyone that works for UT-San Diego to publish or write about it...

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Avatar for user 'MAmomof4'

MAmomof4 | April 9, 2013 at 4:33 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Universities are supposed to teach students to be free thinkers. A move like this concerns me most because it is censorship, and causes me to question the school's ability to accomplish that goal. What's next science and other book censorship? What is the university afraid of? Are they not educating students to take information, question it, research both sides of a matter and form their own opinions? My guess would be on the loss of money from donors, which is extremely near sited. Would you rather isolate your students(who could be alumni who donate to the school), and potential future students, for short term financial gain?
Holy Cross, in my hometown of Worcester, MA, has threatened the expulsion of students in a safe room network - providing free condoms and pamphlets on how to protect your health. Of course they recited verbedum, the same We are a Catholic school and this how's against... blah, blah. It goes against a University's responsibility to keep it's students safe and healthy and a student's right to privacy. No one was complaining that HC wasn't providing life & reproductive saving measures to their students; Adults on this campus were simply helping one another in a private way. Of course civil liberty lawyers are all over this.
The most interesting part of all this, to me, is that you DON'T have to be Catholic to attend these schools. So they ARE breaking civil liberty and discrimination laws with these two examples - despite being a "private" school. Unless they choose to only accept practicing Catholic students; they should AND must be held accountable to this Nation's laws and be unable to hide behind their " private" status - which, in too many cases today, is being used to avoid their legal responsibilities to American students, staff, guests and surrounding communities.
I think the new pope has his work cut out for him and needs to decide the future of these institutions - these sort of issues are sure to cast a dark shadow over the future potential students. Either embrace the ability to show your students - and the world - that individuals all have a right to choose their own way (Does the Catholic Church not teach that man has free will?) - offer no public grandstanding that offers such a negative, narrow minded old world way of thinking to our World's future leaders, accept that others may choose to live a life that goes against what you are teaching those of Catholic faith - you don't need to condone it, but you should not condemn it - and then, and only then will those of true Catholic faith return to the Church - which is the new Pope's agenda. Live what you teach - let those who have committed no sin cast the first stone.

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | April 9, 2013 at 7:25 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

It is sorry indeed to see a university aspiring for first-rate status lower itself to a medieval era theology. Good people with bright minds will have to go elsewhere to contribute to our understanding of the world. Papal infallibility is a medieval construct, not divine, much less a part of early Christianity. Fortunately, there are many other Christian denominations and educational institutions that allow human beings to be free in thought, word and deed.

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Avatar for user 'Catamaranlady'

Catamaranlady | April 9, 2013 at 7:41 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago


Excellent write up. My first thought as an alum was to discontinue financial support. That I will do. Vote with my pocketbook.

I will be interested to see what the new pope can accomplish in the way of change.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 9, 2013 at 10:08 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Why in the blank is KPBS regurgitating an old story???

Oh, that's right, nice donations for KPBS from the GB LT'ers during fund-raising season.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 9, 2013 at 10:11 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

@HARDCRORE, I wasn't aware that Doug Manjester was a USD official???!!!

@AKVEST, the UT was and continues to be a rapid supporter of the out of the closet councilman, CDM!!! Explain that one for me, could you, please.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 9, 2013 at 10:13 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

MAMON64, it is very easy to hide behind the "cast the first stone," verse. You know what it really is, self exoneration. Where is personal responsibility and integrity???

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