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‘Too Christian’ for academia?

Here is a piece I wrote for National Review Online about the political correctness controversy brewing over Wiley-Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.

UPDATE: The Catholic News Agency interviews George Kurian, the encyclopedia's editor. The Telegraph comments on the story. First Things sums it up: "This encyclopedia is too on topic"!

UPDATE 2: The Guardian and The Times have picked up the story.

Comments (6)

Stunning. Did the censors actually use the phrase "too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities" quoted in Kurian's letter?

And what of Blackwell's response?

"In the course of reviewing the situation with the editorial board (many of whom had similar concerns to those raised by the contributors), we learned that few if any of the contributions to the Encyclopedia were reviewed by the editorial board members as required both by high standards of scholarship and our agreement with Mr. Kurian. Instead, they were only reviewed (if at all) by Mr. Kurian himself. We have therefore asked the appointed editorial board to review the work for scholarly integrity and accuracy prior to publication—the task they were originally recruited to perform-- and the majority of the board has accepted this appointment."


As I said in the article, Wiley-Blackwell's current claims do not account for the fact -- which they never deny or even address in their reply -- that they not only initially agreed that the Encyclopedia was ready to go, but actually had it printed and bound.

Re: the words "too Christian" etc., that Kurian put them in quotes indicates that he is quoting someone, no?

We're doing a write-up of this story for Catholic News Agency. Kurian confirmed to me that the "too Christian" etc. lines were the "gist" of the complaints and not an original quotation.

Besides, those concerned about catering to political correctness usually don't call PC by its name.

It'd be nice if he could get some exact quotations out there, but I wonder how much of a silencing effect the legal action will have on the whole thing. I've seen it happen in other situations that sunlight cannot be shone on a situation precisely because it was in litigation and everyone had to keep the cards close to the vest, signed non-disclosure agreements, and so forth.

I see that they are trying to deny that that was the substance of the complaint. They're trying to say that they just need to edit it now because they found out after press that it didn't go through the _process_ it needed to go through. But that's nonsense. That's the kind of thing you check ahead of time, and if not, and you have regrets, you say, "We'll do it differently for a second edition." I hope Kurian doesn't feel that the e-mails and such that he must have documenting this in their own words must be embargoed pending the litigation. But I fear that's exactly what a lawyer would tell him: "Give the interviewers the gist; save the details for the trial." Understandable, but unfortunate from the perspective of the public who wants to see the smoking gun.

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