Why is Marc Ellis on the outs at Baylor University?


Baylor University has suspended Marc Ellis, the director of its Jewish Studies program, for alleged sexual misconduct.

Beyond this, we can glean the following facts from this very long Religion Dispatches dispatch:

–Ellis denies the charges, which his lawyer says involved a former close female friend.

–His hearing is next month.

–Ellis is known for dissenting from conventional Jewish establishment pro-Israel orthodoxies.

–Ken Starr, or as RD puts it, "Yes, that Ken Starr," is Baylor’s president.

According to RD — and not just RD, but the Middle East Studies Association and a petition stacked with left-leaning luminaries, including Ilan Pappe, Desmond Tutu and Cornel West — this adds up to Starr persecuting Ellis for his religious and political beliefs.

We don’t find out until the 11th paragraph — and then, parenthetically — that Baylor denies Starr is at all involved in the investigation.


We do learn that the American Assocation of University Professors believes it is wrong to suspend a professor on such charges before a hearing takes place. We never learn if this ever has been Baylor’s practice.

Instead we get an arc of presumption that starts off acknowledging that the facts that would underpin accusations of political persecution are simply not there, but concludes that they are there, well, just because.

This paragraph is illustrative:

It’s clear that Starr is a conservative Christian, yet his Israel politics are something of an unknown. Raised in a nondenominational Church of Christ, he would very likely have been exposed to Christian Zionist theology. Years later he joined the McLean Bible Church in Virginia, which he remained a member of years after having moved to California to take a position at the Church of Christ-affiliated Pepperdine University. Starr’s pastor at McLean, Jewish-born evangelical Lon Solomon, has been a board member of the Christian Zionist ministry Jews for Jesus for the past 25 years. It would be unusual were Starr not a Christian Zionist.

Got that? Starr’s Israel politics are unknown … but he’s probably a Christian Zionist.

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