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Trans Militant Comes For UD Prof

The University of Dallas is a Catholic university widely understood to teach with fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Now one of its top professors is being attacked for having expressed his views on transgenderism on his private Facebook page. The letter was sent to me as a PDF, but I could not get it to transfer cleanly to this blog. So, I screenshot it in pieces. Look:

Beeler repeated the text in Dr. Upham’s post, then added:

[UPDATE: Now that UD has responded with an unambiguous defense of Prof. Upham, as of Friday morning, I have deleted the screenshot with the names of the signatories. — RD]

In short, they are trying to get Prof. Upham fired.

Bethany Beeler is quite an interesting person. Go to Bethany’s Medium page to see a not-at-all-unstable person’s writing. From Bethany’s memoir (available on Amazon).

Not too sure about Bethany’s standing to tell a Catholic institution what to do:


Anyway, a group has started a counterpetition. They say:

An Open Letter to the University of Dallas Board of Trustees, the Bishop Chancellor, the Faculty Senate, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Provost Regarding the Letter Demanding the Removal of Dr. David Upham

We are called to write this letter for two reasons. First, we seek to defend an honest educator, a charitable mentor, and a good Catholic man. Second, we seek to defend the University of Dallas from those who claim to love her yet strive to change her.

Dr. David Upham has served the UD community for many years. He is a hardworking, kind, joyful man, who openly loves our school, our country, and our Lord. He courageously and respectfully discusses and defends what he loves in the classroom and in the public square. There are times when Dr. Upham’s opinions may anger those who disagree with him, and we are living in an age where those who disagree with him increasingly feel that they have every right to silence him as well as anyone who holds similar opinions.

The letter calling for Dr. Upham’s termination is proof of this sad truth. We will not respond to the letter in question point by point, for we know your time is limited, and we trust that you do not need any help unraveling such tenuous arguments. We will, however, briefly list some troubling observations.

We must first point out that Dr. Upham’s post was wholly consistent with the Church’s teaching that God created human beings in His image, that He created them male and female, that He created each person as an embodied soul (i.e. as a union of body and soul).

We must clearly state that Dr. Upham was in no way inciting violence against anyone or “espousing hate out of fear of difference.” He was merely warning that the incoming Biden administration poses a real threat to religious liberty. A reasonable person may disagree with Dr. Upham’s assessment, but only an unreasonable and intolerant person would see Dr. Upham’s assessment as grounds for dismissal and ostracism.

We must also note that the letter, full of twisted logic and calumnious insinuations, attempts to shame not only Dr. Upham but also the university for failing to live in accordance with the brave new rules of secular morality. It is written with the assumption that the demands of this new secular morality hold more weight than the requirements of traditional Catholic morality.

These observations, combined with the other controversies that have erupted at UD this school year, indicate that there are people within and without the institution that wish to see UD embrace political teachings at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Faith.

We believe that UD has been targeted because it is one of the few academic institutions that welcomes teachers who call their students to love and seek the eternal verities of truth and justice rather than conforming to the popular opinions of our age: “Veritatem, justitiam diligite.” We believe that Dr. Upham has been targeted because he is just such a teacher, one who stands up for our motto by seeking the truth in philosophic discourse and by fostering the love of justice through disciplined study. If the University of Dallas does not stand with professors like Dr. Upham, what will it stand for? We triumphantly call UD “a Catholic university for independent thinkers.” The call to dismiss Dr. Upham—for the crime of voicing Catholic teaching and warning about the potential loss of religious liberty—shows that if we do not stand up for independent thought, we will soon cease to be a Catholic university.

The letter calling for the removal of Dr. Upham ends: “Reassure our faith in the Western intellectual and theological tradition by providing no haven or pulpit for those espousing hate out of fear of difference. Be a beacon of Truth, Beauty, and, most of all, Love.” There are two substantial mistakes here.

Firstly, anyone who accepts transgenderism cannot have an overly steadfast faith in the Western intellectual and theological tradition, for gender ideology seeks to undermine and eventually rewrite the Western intellectual and theological tradition.

Secondly, the letter invokes two of the three transcendentals (i.e. truth and beauty) but tellingly replaces goodness with love. This specious love is not God’s love. To love as God loves involves seeing the good in each person and also wanting the good for each person. The good for each person is nothing other than perfect communion with God, and this is only possible when a person is free from all sin and error. Thus, Love calls us to reach out to and to pray for people who are enslaved to sin and error, but Love can never justly call us to accept sin and error for any reason but especially out of a mistaken sense of compassion.

To love as God loves is far from easy. We are all sinners, and we all fall. May God give us the grace to love Him and our neighbor as we ought and to recognize when we fail so that we may improve. And May God bless the University of Dallas and preserve her as a beacon of “[a]cademic excellence embodied in a rigorous Catholic education dedicated to a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue.”

Therefore, we ask that you give unqualified support to Dr. Upham and reaffirm the University of Dallas’s commitment to its mission statement.

With humility and hope,

The undersigned:

I don’t know who started this letter, but the person is asking for signatures to be sent to DefendUD — at — yahoo — dot — com.

Now would be a very good time for UD alumni to come to the aid of Prof. Upham.

Now would be a very good time for small-o orthodox Christians to understand that there is no place to hide — that these militants will find you, and try to ruin you. If we don’t start standing up for each other, they will destroy our institutions.

UPDATE: I heard just now from one of the people behind the petition to defend Dr. Upham. The person writes:

Within about 48 hours of its being distributed, the letter in support of Dr. Upham had received 500+ signatures from members of the UD Community, from alumni, to faculty, to current students and parents of students. The letter was delivered in hardcopy to the current president, the provost (who has been named as the incoming president, to take office July 1), as well as the chair of the faculty senate, the Bishop of Dallas, and the Chair of the Board of Trustees, all of whom were addressed by the original open letter calling for Dr. Upham’s termination. As of 5 pm today, the letter has reached over 600 signatures in support of Dr. Upham, calling the administration to reaffirm the University’s commitment to its mission statement, which entails both fidelity to the Catholic tradition and natural reason’s pursuit of the truth. We have good reason to believe they will not disappoint us.

My correspondent says that there is not a public place that the pro-Upham letter has appeared, other than this blog. The correspondent advises:

If anyone wants to sign, they can just email [email protected] with their name and a statement affirming they want to sign the letter.

UPDATE.2: Magnificent! I just got this from the University of Dallas:

Joint Statement by President Hibbs & Provost and incoming President Jonathan J. Sanford:

The university is following its existing policies and protocols in this matter, and will not yield to internal or external demands to divert from them. We are not in the business of limiting the speech of our faculty and staff when they speak on personal social media sites. If anyone is wondering whether we uphold Catholic teaching, we do. Our Catholic identity and fidelity to its teachings is at the core of our mission. The university embraces unreservedly the Church’s articulation of the moral law, including its articulation of those truths that deal with the embodied nature of the human person and human sexuality. If anyone is wondering whether we will protect the civil rights of all the members of our community, we can say unequivocally that we will. UD endeavors to respect the intrinsic dignity of each and every person in a spirit of truth and charity.

Clare Venegas, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications:

As our mission statement clearly states, UD is fully and wholeheartedly “committed to the Catholic Church and its teaching.” The university is committed to protecting the civil rights of all our students, faculty, staff and we are committed to a Catholic vision of difference and unity. President Hibbs sent two recent communications to the UD community reiterating this commitment. In thefirst, he noted a number of ongoing initiatives to promote our common good as rooted in our inherent dignity as children of God, and in a subsequentemail on Jan. 25th, he also announced a series of information sessions led by our general counsel and Office of Civil Rights to ensure all faculty and staff are aware of UD’scivil rights policies.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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