Nicholas Sparks, the romance author whose book covers are best described as “white people almost kissing,” is also the founder of a private Christian school called the Epiphany School of Global Studies in North Carolina.
That means he and the other leaders of the school can set the rules. And one of the rules they’re apparently insisting on is that a club for LGBTQ students cannot form.
The Daily Beast‘s Tarpley Hitt calls attention to a series of emails between Sparks and the school’s former headmaster and CEO, Saul Benjamin, that were disclosed in a recent lawsuit.
Benjamin is the more progressive of the two and one of the reasons he’s no longer working at the school is because of disagreements he had with Sparks over this very issue.
In a message sent the following morning [in 2013], Sparks echoed the same points, defending his decision to ban the LGBT group (“not allowing them to have a club is NOT discrimination”), and denying the school had any problem with gay students. “Remember, we’ve had gay students before, many of them,” Sparks wrote. “[The former headmaster] handled it quietly and wonderfully… I expect you to do the same.”
For that and other reasons, Benjamin quit and later sued Sparks and the other board members alleging discrimination, defamation, emotional distress, and breach of contract. That trial will take place this August.
Here’s some of the emailed content as revealed by The Daily Beast:
In one stern message, Sparks chastised the former headmaster for “what some perceive as an agenda that strives to make homosexuality open and accepted.” In another, he put forward a motion to ban student protest at the school, an impulse that came directly in response to two lesbian girls planning to announce their orientation during chapel. In a third, while listing complaints against Benjamin, he cites “misplaced priorities at the school level (GLBT, diversity, the beauty of other religions, as opposed to academic/curricular/global issues, Christian traditions, etc.).”
Sparks says the issue isn’t homosexuality so much as a headmaster who wasn’t following orders.
Mind you, this same author who opposes gay rights because of his Christian faith also had no problem including copious amounts of premarital sex in his best-selling novels. In A Walk to Remember, the main Christian character falls for a guy who seems to view religion with disdain and never has a formal conversion. Hypocrisy much?
The question now is whether people will still see his books as romantic when they were written by someone who opposes love when it doesn’t meet his religious standards.
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