Samford University, a private Christian university in Birmingham, Alabama, has rescinded an invitation for Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham to be part of the upcoming inaugural event for its new president.
The invitation from the university requested the award-winning author speak at the inauguration of Dr. Beck Taylor on Wednesday, but the request drew criticism as Meacham has participated in Planned Parenthood events.
In an online petition that prompted the school to cancel the speech, critics argued that Meacham’s core beliefs and values do not align with Samford’s.
“Although his plan for this lecture is focused more on social injustices, the problem lies within the beliefs and previous engagements of Mr. Meacham. Jon Meacham is significantly involved with the Planned Parenthood organization. He has spoken at their fundraising events, his book is used for the Planned Parenthood fundraiser,” the petition read.
Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for writing “American Lion,” a biography of President Andrew Jackson. He has written other books such as “The Hope of Glory” that became New York Times bestsellers.
Taylor addressed the issue in a letter, clarifying that Meacham’s speech would “highlight his work in analyzing the current state of civility and discourse in our country.” He explained that he found the author’s insights as “challenging and inspiring.”
After criticism from the Samford Student Government Association and others, the school removed the talk from its list of inaugural activities. However, ABC News reported that Samford is eyeing to schedule an appearance for another time.
“Unexpectedly, Mr. Meacham’s planned lecture has become a divisive issue, one that takes attention away from our opportunity to celebrate Samford. I regret that this has happened,” Taylor said.
“Our mission as a Christ-centered institution of higher learning is to stand boldly at the intersection of society and the church and to convene important conversations about how to live faithfully in the world. That mission calls us to invite speakers and artists to campus who challenge our perspectives and who share wisdom and insights,” Taylor concluded.