Last week, Wheaton College, the Christian school just outside of Chicago, issued a rather shocking statement about its chaplain: Rev. Tim Blackmon had been fired due to allegations that involved “inappropriate comments and actions of a racial and sexual nature toward other staff.”
The lack of details allowed imaginations to run wild. What on earth could the chaplain have done at one of the more prominent evangelical schools in the country? Blackmon himself said he had been “completely blind-sided” by the firing and disavowed any wrongdoing.
And that comment led Wheaton to respond by sharing more details. So now we know what he’s accused of.
[Wheaton College’s director of marketing communications Joe Moore’s] statement alleges Blackmon used an ethnic slur against an Asian American employee, made graphic sexual comments to a married female employee, circulated a lewd meme, and arranged to have an illustrated manual of sexual positions placed on a female staff member’s desk.
It’s probably not a good sign when you give The Idiot’s Guide to Kama Sutra to your work colleague… Blackmon insists his words to his students were “taken out of context.” Could that be possible? Maybe. But when there are multiple allegations, none of which look great on their own, it’s hard to act like there’s no wrongdoing.
Consider, for example, what he said to that female employee and what the “lewd meme” was. Emily McFarlan Miller at Religion News Service explains:
… he mocked an online sexual harassment training during a staff meeting by suggesting a female colleague sit in his lap and complete the training for him, made comments to a newlywed female colleague about her sex life and sent a meme about masturbation to other college staff.
Wheaton administrators learned of the allegations last fall and “promptly” began an investigation, the statement said.
During that investigation, Blackmon “did not dispute that he said or did any of these things. In fact, he admitted that his ‘foolish’ conduct was ‘beneath the dignity of (his) position and not up to the highest standards of wisdom,’” according to the college.
Those actions would be an HR nightmare at most companies. It’s arguably worse when you’re the chaplain at a prominent evangelical school. It’s hard to imagine the firing isn’t justified. But Blackmon says he’s thinking about taking legal action. (Word of advice: Don’t include memes in the complaint.)
In any case, be on the lookout for a not-pology that claims an acceptance of grace and forgiveness — from Jesus, that is, not anyone he harassed.
(Screenshot via YouTube)