Don't get me wrong: I consider Dinesh to be wasting his time and brain power believing and proselytising things that are objectively untrue.
But this new fiancee-mistress "scandal" in which he has become embroiled is the embodiment of both the proverbial storm in a tea-cup and the abuse of religious power over even high-profile individuals. Fancy losing one's job over dating.
It seems that a conference organiser suspected Dinesh of (gasp!) spending the night in a hotel with a woman. He has been separated from his wife for two years, apparently at her behest, and the divorce is progressing. Meanwhile, he has started dating someone else. Where's the scandal?
The instigator of this firestorm is one Tony Beam, one of the organizers of the evangelical conference at which Dinesh delivered the keynote, who made clear, "I did not see them go into a room together; I did not see them coming out of a room together," but became "suspicious" when he did not personally witness Dinesh's fiancee, Denise Joseph, check into a separate room. I'm still looking for the scandal part...
Dinesh has stated that he did not, in fact, share a room with Joseph. Even in the account printed by World Magazine, wherein Dinesh admitted to sharing a room, nobody claimed or admitted to anything resembling an affair.
It takes a special kind of Christian mind to condemn a man for dating someone new after his wife leaves him. It takes a dedicated brand of ultra-conservatism to consider that sharing a room is so morally repugnant that a man should lose his job.
Dinesh is 51, not 14. He is of consenting age and presumably so is Denise. And according to every account of this so-called event, the only "immoral" characteristic seems to be that it "looks bad." This only demonstrates that the USA is drawing ever-closer to sharia values.
Irrespective of Dinesh's clear incapacity to grasp concepts like evolution -- though, oddly, this did not prevent him from getting a job at a university -- the notion that any employer is permitted to dictate the morality and private lives of their employees is unjust and we should stand up for everyone affected by it. Yes, even the Dineshes of the world. It is precisely this abuse of power (though with more serious consequences) that is preventing women from having the option of free contraception. This is the business of no employer, nor is Dinesh's private life, and these are two outcomes of the same rotten fruit.
Meanwhile, I'd very much like to see the clause in Dinesh's employment contract that states he's not permitted to fall in love if his wife leaves him. The clause that states if he and his wife separate irreconcilably, he's not permitted to spend any time in private with a woman, no matter how much the estranged wife may drag out the divorce process.
Indeed, in this case, Dinesh was not breaking even Christian rules. It was pure suspicion that caused the uproar. One fellow at Focus on the Family called his behaviour "attitudinal bigamy." But if his "attitude" was that he's married to Joseph, and his "attitude" was that his previous relationship was entirely over, how is this "attitudinal bigamy"? It sounds like monogamy to me; it was just a matter of sorting out the paperwork.
A relationship isn't a piece of paper; it's between two people. If they commit to each other, a certificate of marriage doesn't mean anything. It doesn't magically create a relationship or bestow special powers (well, perhaps a few tax breaks). It's just a legal instrument, not an "attitudinal" instrument. If the relationship's over, a certificate of divorce serves the same purpose. The piece of paper is a formality, and a secular one at that. The relationship, it seems, was long-since-dissolved.
The United States government was very cleverly designed to prevent itself from inserting religion into the lives of citizens, but then it permitted bodies corporate -- of which nearly every citizen is an employee -- to impose religious values upon the people instead. How sad that such an excellent constitution can be bypassed by everyone at will, just by establishing their own little fiefdom.
It's interesting to note in Dinesh's response op-ed that the writer of the exposé was a former employee of King's who Dinesh had fired, and the magazine's editor, according to Dinesh, also has some bad blood. It will be interesting to see whether this is confirmed in the coming days.
Though I agree with Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta that it wouldn't be a bad thing if some of the shine came off Dinesh's coat, I'd not want that to be because of this unrelated sideshow. That would be like winning an Olympic gold medal only because your nearest rival was mugged the day before -- by his own teammates, in this case.
And if you'd like to see just how wrong Dinesh is about pretty much everything to do with religion, watch a debate or two between him and Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Dan Barker, David Silverman, Bart Ehrman or Michael Shermer.
Dinesh's fast-and-loose attitude to history, science and truth in general are good reasons for him not to be permitted to work at a centre of learning. Dating after almost two years of separation is not.