Claremont Linc, Claremont Sch, Drew Theological School, Human Rights Campaign, Institute on Religion and Democracy, interfaith, Jeanne Audrey Powers, Jerry Campbell, John Lomperis, Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, LGBT, Reconciling Ministries Network
By John Lomperis (@JohnLomperis)
Claremont School of Theology (CST) has announced that this summer, the Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan will become its new president, while its current president, Rev. Dr. Jerry D. Campbell, will continue on as president of Claremont-Lincoln University.
CST is one of the thirteen official, offering-plate-funded United Methodist seminaries in the United States. As we have reported earlier, Campbell caused quite a stir when he repudiated evangelism after presiding over a $50 million gift enticing the then-financially-troubled CST into transforming itself from a stand-alone Christian seminary to one part of Claremont Lincoln University, a new, multi-faith consortium for training clergy in Christian, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Jain traditions. We have also reported on recent controversy stemming from CST’s concerns about its chapel cross offending non-Christians.
Kuan is known as “a strong proponent of religious pluralism.” He only became dean of United Methodism’s Drew Theological School not quite two years ago. In his installation address at Drew, he cited neither cited any biblical passage nor affirmed any particular Christian truth. However, Kuan drew much inspiration from a Chinese Buddhist parable, and also affirmed his adherence to liberal theological education’s core dogmas of “pluralism, feminism, liberationism, postcolonialism, and ecological and environmental responsibility.”
The new CST dean has been honored by heterodox United Methodist activists for his outspokenness in promoting the pro-homosexuality cause and is a member of the board of directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), which flamboyantly embraces an “any means necessary” ethos in angrily demanding church endorsement of homosexual practice along with other varieties of sex outside of marriage. He previously taught at the proudly radical Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.
While that cuts an odd profile for the leader of a seminary funded by a denomination whose clergy make covenant vows to teach our effectively un-amendable core doctrine, Kuan should fit right in at CST.
Kuan’s advocacy of what he calls “a progressive theology to be constructed in dialogue with other religious traditions” is obviously attractive to people excited about CST’s aforementioned mammon-driven expansion into a multi-religious cafeteria/university in which each unique faith is structurally relativized and where Christian evangelism is repudiated as stemming from what Campbell calls “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.” Meanwhile, CST, which was supposed to have remained the Christian part of Claremont-Lincoln University, is formally structured to cater to students “preparing for leadership in non-Christian settings,” especially Unitarian Universalist and Muslim clergy-to-be. As noted earlier, CST includes faculty members who espouse Theravada Buddhism, post-Christian anti-Trinitarianism, and 9/11 Truther-ism.
CST is also institutionally committed to sharing Kuan’s enthusiasm for protesting the disapproval of the United Methodist Church (along with the Bible and two millennia of consistent Christian tradition) of homosexual practice.
The United Methodist seminary runs Center for Sexuality, Gender and Religion that appears to focus on partisan advocacy for the GLBTQIA cause. It was “[e]stablished through a reported generous contribution from Jeanne Audrey Powers,” a retired lesbian activist who was formerly a high-ranking official at the apportionment-funded United Methodist ecumenical and interfaith agency. The Center attracted positive attention for the seminary from the gay-subculture media by producing a brief, gay-friendly video featuring, among other things, an MDiv student blaming the struggles of some sexually addicted men on “very rigid theology of rules and regulations” and a PhD student emotionally testifying of her impending challenges of promoting her changed position on homosexuality when she goes back home to her church in South Korea. Other recent activities sponsored by the seminary’s Center include a public reading of the pornographic “Vagina Monologues,” sending students “to represent CST” as an activism conference of RMN and the Methodist Federation for Social Action, a presentation on “Queering the Bible,” a paper presentation entitled “Toward the Queer God,” and honoring graduates for “exceptional service to or leadership in the LGBTQIA community.”
CST, through this activist Center, is even one of only four sponsors of a project by America’s largest political gay activist group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), to provide, in the project’s own words, “financial resources, scholarly networks and mentorship opportunities to the next generation of LGBTQ and allied scholars” in the fields of religious and theological studies, for the sake of ultimately “recast[ing] the conversation about LGBT and religion in our congregations and communities.” This project is a part of HRC’s Religion & Faith program, through which the powerful, well-funded, secular HRC seeks to take over and co-opt religious institutions to be used as tools for their cause.
This same HRC program also repeatedly promotes a group whose homepage prominently features an African-American church in the crosshairs of a gun.
It would be tempting to speculate that having an RMN leader taking over will be the final step in CST becoming known as the seminary of the sexually liberal movement within the UMC (assuming that Kuan sticks around for longer than he did at Drew). But unfortunately, this would ignore the ways in which other United Methodist-approved and funded seminaries similarly engage in heavy-handed promotion of the sexually liberal cause while imposing a stiflingly oppressive environment on theologically orthodox students.
In any case, Campbell’s continuing on as Claremont-Lincoln University’s president while Kuan takes the helm of Claremont School of Theology can be sadly expected to ensure that this United Methodist offering-plate-funded seminary will be solidified in a theological trajectory which is increasingly difficult to distinguish from the secularized, relativist faith of Unitarian Universalism.