Dinesh D'Souza says he's surprised to be speaking in a church. Of course he's not speaking in any church, but a church that "proudly brews Starbucks Coffee," a church whose parking lot rivals most malls, a church whose 9,000-plus members make it the largest in Colorado. That's right, it's Briargate's own New Life Church.
D'Souza is not a preacher, at least not in the traditional sense. This Hoover Institute fellow made his name during his undergraduate days at Dartmouth University squawking against collegiate political correctness from his incendiary, conservative foundation-funded Dartmouth Review.
Since then he's worked as a policy analyst in the Reagan administration and carved out a cushy niche on the right-wing think tank and lecture circuit, writing best-selling books like Illiberal Education, The End of Racism and, more recently, Letters to a Young Conservative and What's So Great About America.
D'Souza has courted the most attention when using his person-of-color status (he's an Indian immigrant) to lecture African-Americans about racism.
Here's what he's had to say about why post-slavery segregation was necessary for Americans: "To assure that [African-Americans], like the handicapped, would be ... permitted to perform to the capacity of their arrested development."
But at New Life church, D'Souza's isn't talking about race. His speech is quieter and undeniably engaging. As New Life's pastor Ross Parsley informed the hundreds on hand for the 11 o'clock service, bringing in D'Souza is part of New Life's effort to encourage its members to engage in the secular forum of ideas.
D'Souza talks about the debate between Christianity and Islam, between theocracy and democracy, and the moral justification for freedom. Christianity, he says, began in defeat while Islam began in victory. But since then, the power relationship has flip-flopped with Christianity and the West ascending over the Islamic world.
"What is it about Islam today that's made it the incubator of terrorism?" he asks.
D'Souza credits Christianity's success to its willingness to embrace Western science, representative democracy and capitalism.
"Islam today produces namely two things: oil and dead bodies."
This comment is greeted with much laughter and applause.
-- John Dicker
photo by Bruce Elliott