Dinesh D'Souza has resigned as the president of The King's College (TKC), the Manhattan school's board of trustees announced Thursday.
The decision comes after World magazine reported Tuesday that D'Souza was engaged to Denise Odie Joseph II while still legally married to his wife of 20 years, Dixie, and that the couple had allegedly checked into a hotel room together during a Christian conference last month.
"I am grateful for the past two years that I have spent as president of The King's College," he said on his website this afternoon. "But now it is time to move on. My resignation will enable The King's College to go forward without distraction. And it will also enable me to address personal matters in my life as well as to pursue new opportunities made possible by success of my recent book and film."
D'Souza's statement made no reference to the controversy over his relationship, but an earlier post on his site called World's report "a clear attempt to destroy my career and my ministry. This is viciousness masquerading as righteousness. And this is the behavior that is truly worthy of Christian condemnation."
Board chairman Andy Mills will serve as interim president of the Manhattan school.
"After careful consultation with the Board and with Dinesh, we have accepted his resignation to allow him to attend to his personal and family needs," Mills said in a press release. "We thank him for his service and significant contribution to the College over the last two years."*
The college's student newspaper posted quotes on Twitter from the school-wide meeting this afternoon.
"God has a mighty future for Dinesh, but there are some things he has to go through first," Mills told students, according to the paper. "The success or failure of an institution is not based on a man. It's based on what God does. ... I have to admit, I got a little over-enamored with [D'Souza]."
According to the student newspaper, Mills also suggested that the college may move away from its efforts to brand itself as emphasizing both Christianity and political conservatism. "The King's College is a Christian college. Period," the paper reported Mills saying. "We want to find someone who shares our vision."
David Dockery, president of Union University in Tennessee, says the incident is a warning sign for administrators at other Christian colleges.
"We have to be reminded that our calling is to serve the Kingdom of God and the church through Christian higher education, first and foremost," he said. "Secondly, trust that we have opportunities to engage the wider culture. When the focus is only in the cultural sphere, we run the risk of missing our calling."
Stan Guthrie, who previously served as editor for D'Souza's work, said the author and creator of the political documentary 2016 was a man of high integrity—"not only engaged in the intellectual defense of the faith but also lived it out in his personal life"—and that is why the news is so disappointing.
"We want to see congruence with our intellectual professions of faith and also our personal confessions of faith," he said. "We don't want to see a huge dichotomy there."
Carl Trueman, professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, says he was initially "perplexed" at D'Souza's appointment at an evangelical school because of D'Souza's identification as Roman Catholic.
"By and large, evangelicals functionally tend to be concerned more about morality than about doctrine," he said. "Ironically it is likely to be his adultery rather than his Roman Catholicism that limits his usefulness to evangelicals." (D'Souza has been attending evangelical churches for the last several years, signed TKC's statement of faith, and said he was "comfortable with Reformation theology," but told CT in 2010 that he did not renounce his Catholicism.)
Hotel room dispute
D'Souza explained to CT in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he began divorce proceedings in September following two years of separation with no hope for reconciliation.
But the article by World vice president Warren Cole Smith reported that D'Souza told Alex McFarland that the pair had shared a hotel room at the Truth for a New Generation 2012 conference in September.
World also reported D'Souza told McFarland that "'nothing happened,'" and attributed the quote to D'Souza.
Yesterday, CT reported that D'Souza denied telling McFarland that he and Joseph shared a room and saying "nothing happened."
"Warren Smith never even asked me about this," he said.
But Tony Beam, director of the Worldview Center at North Greenville University, which sponsored the conference, says World quoted McFarland accurately. Beam said McFarland told him that, when asked about the hotel room in a phone conversation, D'Souza responded, "Nothing happened."
"That is what Alex told me, and that is what he told World," Beam said. "I'm disappointed that Dinesh has called Alex's integrity into question over this. I believe Alex."
Beam says he first spoke to McFarland about D'Souza after he picked up D'Souza and Joseph from the airport on Friday afternoon, when D'Souza introduced Joseph to Beam as his fiancée. At the time, Beam could not remember whether or not D'Souza was married, but he mentioned D'Souza's fiancée to conference host Alex McFarland, one of D'Souza's friends, later that evening, Beam said.
"(McFarland's) face had a surprised look and he said, 'What happened to Dixie?'" Beam said. "Then I was thinking that I did know he was married or had been married."
Beam also says his assistant called D'Souza's assistant Friday afternoon to inquire about the hotel reservation after he realized that D'Souza was traveling with a woman.
"The statement was made, 'There's not any more rooms available at the hotel where they're staying, where the speakers are staying, because it's booked out for this conference.' The response was, "Well, don't worry about that; we'll take care of it. It's been taken care of,'" Beam said. "Then, somehow … there was a question, 'If she ends up in another hotel, how would we get her to the airport?' The comment was, "We'll take care of it and we'll makes sure she's picked up with Dinesh.'"
However, Beam says it did not appear that anything with the room situation had changed. Around 11 p.m. Friday night, Beam says, he drove D'Souza and Joseph to Comfort Suites, the hotel where the conference had booked rooms for all of the speakers.
Beam says he decided to go in with D'Souza and Joseph to make sure the reservation was correct. There was some confusion—the one-room reservation was in D'Souza's assistant's name, not his—but after it was clarified that they did have a reservation, which was paid for by the conference, D'Souza and Joseph said good night and turned toward the elevator, Beam said.
"But I didn't go up to the room with them, and I didn't go up to the room to get them, so I don't know what happened for sure. … To be fair, when I left them at the hotel, (D'Souza) could have turned around, walked back to the desk, and tried to get another room," he said. "It is our understanding that all the rooms were booked. There were no more rooms at the hotel."
Beam says it is also possible that D'Souza paid to have a cab take Joseph to another hotel, and then returned in the morning before Beam arrived.
"Could any of that have happened? It's possible," Beam said. "But this is just what I saw."
Beam says he arrived at the hotel the next morning around 4:30 a.m. and had the front desk attendant call up to D'Souza's room. D'Souza and Joseph came down together, and Beam drove them to the airport without asking any questions regarding the hotel room, he said.
Later that day, Beam says, he spoke to Smith at the conference and again the next week, when Smith informed him that World would publish a story about D'Souza and his fiancée. Beam said he also spoke on the phone with McFarland after he had attempted to talk to D'Souza about the hotel room.
Beam corroborates what McFarland told World magazine: D'Souza said, "Nothing happened."
"That is what Alex told me, and that is what he told World," Beam said.
Yesterday, though, D'Souza told CT that quote is "pure fabrication."
He relates the details differently: "While Warren [Smith] was working on the article, I got a call from Alex McFarland, the organizer of this conference. Alex said, 'As a pastor, I'm very concerned about you, and I just want to know: Did you and Denise stay in the same room?' And I said, 'Alex, no, we did not." And Alex said, "You know as a pastor, if you did, that would raise some issues." And I said, 'I guess it would, but we didn't. We stayed in separate rooms.' Then Alex hung up."
McFarland called again the next day asking the same question, D'Souza says.
"I think I became kind of suspicious," he said. "I said to Alex, 'Alex, this is a little weird. You already asked me this yesterday … I know Warren Smith is writing an article about this, so I don't really know what's going on here but I'm not going to say another word about the subject.' And then Alex hung up. Then the quotation appears in World, so something very bizarre is going on, either Alex McFarland is lying or Warren Smith is lying."
Last night, Smith told CT that he stands by his reporting 100 percent.
McFarland also stands by his comments as they appear in World magazine, according to Deborah Hamilton, McFarland's spokesperson.
McFarland is not granting interviews about D'Souza, however, he released the following statement: "Although I had no knowledge of Dinesh's personal life, none of us is above reproach and we all need a Savior. I will continue to pray for Dinesh and help point him toward living the godly life he's always lived."
* Note: An earlier version of this story contained quotes from D'Souza from a press release CT obtained from The King's College representatives. CT has learned that the quotes were inaccurate and that the press release was sent erroneously.