UPDATE (2/18): A number of blogs and articles have linked to clavi non defixi over the last two weeks concerning the encyclopedia. Often these referring sites have only linked to this first post, which only discusses Kurian's original protestation. More information has surfaced since the time of my writing this post, although many discussions of the matter only seem interested in hearing Kurian's side of the story. Please see here, here, and here in addition to the following post.
I received the following email about the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. I have not read any of the articles from this encyclopedia, nor have I verified anything said below. I do know a number of the contributing authors, however, and the matter seemed of enough concern to post the email here for the purposes of dissemination. If I hear any important updates or matters of correction, I'll publish as needed.
As a matter of summary, a substantial encyclopedia slated for 2009 (and released at AAR/SBL) has faced objections from prominent members of its editorial board for being “too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities.” The encyclopedia has been pulled by the publisher, and existing copies are being sought out and destroyed.
If anyone has more information on this, please share. I do hope the situation isn't as extreme as the email makes out, but if it is then there's much to be concerned over. I find it odd that such respected scholars would act in so extreme a fashion, but again, I don't know anything personally about the matter. We'll see how things play out. If you have the set, keep it! If you're involved with the project in some way, take action as necessary.
I am sorry to report a looming crisis in the publication of the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.
ECC was successfully completed in September 2008. It was completed a year ahead of schedule and in four volumes instead of the contractual three. It was edited, copyedited, factchecked, proofread and finally approved by Blackwell’s editorial team. It was printed and bound and then launched at AAR and SBL where it received high praise. It was also lauded and endorsed by Edwin Yamauchi and Mark Noll and others. I have a copy of the set with me.
Then the devil struck in the form of a wrecking crew of seven malcontents led by David Morgan and Bernard McGinn and some members of the editorial board. They determined that the Introduction and many of the entries were “too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities.” Under mounting
pressure from the powerful anti-Christian lobby, Blackwell Religion publisher, Rebecca Harkin and Editorial Director Philip Carpenter agreed with this assessment and (illegally) suspended the publication and began proceedings to pulp the entire edition of several thousand copies of the four-volume set just because there are a dozen references to which they do not subscribe and which ran counter to their philosophy and agenda. This is probably the first instance of mass book-burning in the 21st century.
Carpenter and Harkin now demand that not merely the Introduction but also all the other 1,450
entries should be “dechristianized” to make it politically correct before it can be reprinted. This is the most blatant form of censorship in the history of religious publishing. Carpenter, Harkin,
Morgan, McGinn and others are not merely censors but also intellectual vandals and arsonists who destroy other people’s intellectual property. They do so because of an innate hatred of orthodox Christian ideas which they view as subversive of their own universe.
Carpenter and Harkin are working hard to sabotage the project and strip it of its Christian content. Among the words or passages they want deleted are “ Antichrist”, “Enemy” (as referring to Satan), BC/AD (as chronological markers), “Beloved Disciple,” “Gates of Hell,” “Witness,” “Virgin Birth,” “Resurrection,” “Evangelism” “Harvest,” and any reference with an “evangelical tone” or citing the “uniqueness of Christ and Christianity”. They also object to historical references to the persecution and massacres of Christians by Muslims, but at the same time want references favorable to Islam. To make the treatment “more balanced”, they also want the insertion of material denigrating Christianity in some form or fashion. All these I have refused to do. So long as there are people like Carpenter, Harkin, Morgan or McGinn and publishers like Wiley-Blackwell, there will be no freedom for Christian ideas or the expression thereof. Therefore, to paraphrase Churchill, I shall fight and expose them in the courts, fight and expose them in the libraries, fight and expose them in the academia and fight and expose them in the media.
In this struggle I am seeking your support and your prayers. Specifically, I need you to do three
1. I am instituting two legal suits against Blackwell for this highhanded act of censorship. One is a class action suit on behalf of nearly 400 contributors who had worked hard for two years on this project. The suit will seek specific performance, that is, it will require Wiley-Blackwell to publish the book as originally approved and printed, without change and without censorship of its Christian content, tone and character. Blackwell has not paid any of the contributors even one cent but rather promised them copies of the set and also free online subscription. Now they will get neither. By law contributors are entitled to seek restitution for the lost income as well as penal damages for breach of contract. Beyond the financial aspects of the suit, it will send a strong message to the politically-correct establishment that we will not allow the the freedom of Christian expression to be abridged, muzzled, denied or trampled upon. I am also
filing a separate breach of contract suit on my behalf.
If you would like to join in the class action suit please send me an e-mail stating your intention to do so and I will have the attorneys send you within three months all the necessary papers. You will incur no financial costs but will share in any settlement. Please also e-mail a copy of your letter to William Pesce, president of Wiley (Wpesce@wiley.com) and Eric Swanson, vice
2. I shall appreciate writing to your colleagues, students, university librarians, editors and friends in the media and radio and television stations about this censorship and suppression of Christian expression. I shall also welcome your ideas and suggestions on helpful resources.
3. If you have received a set or any volume in the four-volume set of ECC, please do not return it to Blackwell under any circumstances.
Blessings in His Name,
George Thomas Kurian
Editor in chief, Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization
President, Christian Heritage Society
President, Forum Against PC Censorship
914 962 3287