Stop Persecution Against Prof. Marc Ellis
  • Petitioned University

This petition was delivered to:

Ken Starr, President of Baylor University
University

Stop Persecution Against Prof. Marc Ellis

    1. Petition by

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom

 

Please join co-chairs Cornel West, Rosemary Ruether and Archbishop Desmond Tutu signing this petition.

Ken Starr, former prosecutor of Bill Clinton, and currently President of Baylor University, to dismiss dissident Jewish voice Dr. Marc Ellis.

For more than three decades the prophetic voice of Marc Ellis has influenced generations of academics and activists. His dissident voice in the realm of contemporary Jewish identity and his theology of solidarity with Palestinians has been encouraged by numerous scholar-activists including Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and the three of us, Rosemary Ruether, Cornel West and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Unfortunately this voice is now being silenced at Baylor University where Marc has served with distinction for almost fifteen years as University Professor and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. With the approval of Kenneth Starr, President of Baylor University, Marc Ellis is under internal investigation in what looks more and more like a persecution to silence a Jewish voice of dissent. In short, Baylor is re-writing its rules to dismiss Marc Ellis from the faculty.

We, the undersigned, request President Starr to honor Dr. Ellis' academic freedom and stop all hostility toward him, including any attempt at dismissal. Join us signing this petition.

Cornel West, Rosemary Radford Ruether and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (co-chairs of the committee)

(more information about 1. the internal investigation and 2. faq in the update section)

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 5,000 signatures
    2. Marc's First Statement at the American Academy of Religion (11/21/11)

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you for your concern/interest/inquiry regarding my situation at Baylor University. Below is the statement I made to those in attendance in in San Francisco on Monday, November 21, 2011 at the American Academy of Religion session honoring my work. The AAR entitled that session "The Persistence of the Prophetic: Honoring and Engaging the Work of Marc Ellis."

      You are, of course, free to share this statement to the AAR session as appropriate.

      "The kind honor you bestow upon me once again tonight is paired with a painful irony arising from the honor which Baylor has bestowed upon me for 13 years as a University professor.

    3. Marc's Statement at AAR (Part II)

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      That has been a blessing, for not everywhere can one find a respite to speak a truth that often offends powerful structures. Former Baylor University Presidents Herbert Reynolds, Robert Sloan, John Lilley, Bill Underwood and David Garland were protective of me against tide of criticism which powerful others swept to my feet through the years. About that I have remained relatively silent, but very grateful. Those university Presidents made a not insignificant contribution to my family’s well-being. Thus, I wondered when Kenneth Starr became President if the protection would change. Still, I encouraged those who grumbled pre-judgments against President Starr to give him the benefit of the doubt. Since then by many counts, he has served the University in a way that has reassured many. This is important in a place where some of you have questioned hiring practices against gays, lesbians, Muslims, Hindus, and others.

    4. Marc's Statement at AAR (Part III)

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      "Although some may focus on such limitations, until June 29 of this year I candidly found it generally otherwise. June 29 was the day I learned of a secret University investigation against me begun in March of this year for alleged offenses reportedly routine at Baylor, but which are selectively enforced, with a resultant chill on academic freedom. Two days later, on July 1, I was informed that President Starr had approved charges against me. After that my job duties as longtime director of the Center for Jewish Studies began to be systematically eroded, most recently leading to Baylor's cancellation of the invitation to Cornel West.

    5. Marc's Statement at AAR (Part IV)

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      In fact, in mid July my fall classes were unilaterally cancelled. Then, on the eve of this honor – Saturday, November 19 to be exact, I learned that charges (which I have yet to see) were filed with the Baylor Faculty Dismissal Committee on November 16. Whether the American Academy of Religion timing was to set embarrass me I cannot say. What I can say is that it would be dishonest of me to accept this honor as a Baylor professor without saying at least something to not mislead you. At a minimum I must acknowledge the awkwardness of this moment in the midst of so many pleasant ones spent with so many of you for whom I have such high regard."

    6. Marc's Statement at AAR (Part V)

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      "I do not wish to embroil you in what I see as essentially a battle over MY academic freedom. So, I must, while acknowledging gratitude to Baylor for the past thirteen years, also acknowledge the painful struggle which continues with what is becoming the future Baylor. I would not want, later, for any on you as friends and colleagues to ask: “Marc, why didn’t you tell us rather than to remain silent?” I speak briefly now. Given what I currently understand of the rules of the Baylor process I will, for now, honor the process by not discussing the specifics, except to say that I believe this is a pretext to silence an independent voice at the place for which I have had deep appreciation. And I would be remiss in not expressing appreciation for the willingness of Cornel West and Rosemary Radford Ruether to co-chair a committee in support of my academic freedom at Baylor."

    7. Reached 1,500 signatures
    8. FAQ: Who signed the petition so far?

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      Thousands of colleagues, students and supporters of Marc, who are deeply committed to justice and academic freedom. Signatories include Noam Chomsky (MIT), Sara Roy (Harvard), Ilan Pape (Exeter), Jeff Halper, Jennifer Loewenstein (Wisc), Lewis Gordon (Temple), Walter Mignolo (Duke), Otto Maduro (Drew), Miguel de la Torre (Iliff), Elizabeth Corrie, Virginia Cawagas (UPeace), Betty Reardon (Columbia), Said Abdelwahad (Al Azhar, Gaza), Alison Weir, Ray Jureidini (AUC), Bill Ashcroft (UNSW), Rony Brauman (SciencesPo)

    9. FAQ: Who is eligible to teach at Baylor?

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      The Baylor Charter does not allow the hiring of gays or lesbians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or anyone who is not a Christian or a Jew. It is not about preference, they cannot hire members of the groups aforementioned. At Baylor, one can be dismissed for homosexual acts, adultery, or "fornication". Moreover, they cannot hire Mormons. Mitt Romney, for instance, could not teach on the Baylor faculty. Baylor simply does not consider Mormons to be Christians.

    10. FAQ: How has Marc survived for 13 years at Baylor?

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      Marc arrived to Baylor in 1998 under the presidency of Robert Sloan. Sloan had a vision of creating a Christian top-tier university by 2012 and was recruiting public intellectuals and offering them to be “University Professors." Marc was part of this group. After Marc arrived the combat between different political wings increased Sloan was fired and since 2005 Baylor was under instable (sometimes interim) and changing leadership. In 2010 a very conservative wing won the battle and Starr was named president. Soon after lawyers started contacting people, the investigation started. By the following summer (2011) he was separated from his classes, his center closed and now he faces a hearing and dismissal.

      For a background article on Marc's hiring and his first few months at Baylor, see: http://www.chron.com/news/article/Baylor-prof-welcomed-yet-despised-1995990.php#page-1

    11. FAQ: What are the Charges?

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      The charges are about “abuse of authority.” Unfortunately, we do not have access to any legal information because we are only a group of colleagues, friends, and students of Marc led by Cornel and Rosemary. But we are aware about the charges because we were implicated by Baylor’s lawyers.

      Many of us were contacted several times by institutional lawyers who tried to persuade us to tell them examples of “abuse of authority” he has exercised. All of us answered that they were loosing their time because Marc has been an exemplar colleague, mentor, friend and supporter of all of us. We don’t have more information. But will be share anything we learn from other sources as far as it does not become a hindrance for Marc’s legal defense.

    12. Reached 1,000 signatures
    13. More information about internal investigation

      Marc.Ellis Academic.Freedom
      Petition Organizer

      Marc Ellis was brought to Baylor in 1998 and all previous presidents supported his dissident voice. After Ken Starr (nemesis of Clinton in the White House) became president in 2010 the attacks started. During the last year Baylor lawyers were instructed to communicate with many of Marc’s colleagues, past students and staff. The objective was to request all of them to report all “abuse of authority.” Most of us explained to the lawyers that was a lost cause because Marc has been an exemplar colleague, professor and mentor.

      But starting this Fall he was separated from his classes, his center closed and a hearing scheduled to take place some time in this academic year. As far as we know the accusations are about abuse of authority but we are not aware of the details because they are part of the internal legal process. Obviously it is about something else: Marc's dissident voice. We wil inform all of you as soon as we know more information.

    14. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Raymond Meyer MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA
      • over 2 years ago

      I have read some of Dr. Ellis's writings and found them to be well researched, well written. very informative, and unbiased. He is an excellent scholar, and, according to former students of his, an excellent teacher. For the sake of all who seek a just peace in Israel-Palestine, Baylor University should be fostering Dr. Ellis's work, not trying to still his voice.

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    • David E. Edwards SUGAR LAND, TX
      • over 2 years ago

      This is unfair treatment of a good person.

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    • Alan Davies TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
      • over 2 years ago

      Academic freedom and the right of free criticism in the university should never be threatened.

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    • Harry Coverston ORLANDO, FL
      • over 2 years ago

      I was fortunate to have Dr. Ellis for two graduate classes at Florida State in the 1990s. His teaching changed my life and my own teaching. I use the insights I gained from his classes in my own classes every semester. The gift of Marc Ellis is not always easy to take. He is direct and sometimes abrasive. But he is always a gift. I pray that Baylor University can realize that.

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    • Hans Morten Haugen 0283 OSLO, NORWAY
      • over 2 years ago

      I have met Mark Ellis and know him as a sincere searcher for and promoter of inclusiveness and justice in the Jewish tradition

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