Novelist Nicholas Sparks Accused of Racism, Homophobia at His Christian School: Report
"Sparks... unapologetically marginalized, bullied, and harassed members of the School community"
Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks seemingly tried to ban students from forming an LGBT club and from protesting at the Epiphany School, a Christian academy he runs in North Carolina.
In a series of emails obtained by The Daily Beast, Sparks appears to have been caught in a years-long legal battle with the former headmaster and CEO of his school, Saul Benjamin, who claims the prolific novelist has displayed a pattern of harassment, racism, and homophobia.
“Sparks and members of the Board unapologetically marginalized, bullied, and harassed members of the School community,” Benjamin’s attorneys wrote in a complaint, “whose religious views and/or identities did not conform to their religiously driven, bigoted preconceptions.”
While Sparks, the writer known for his romance books like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, denied these claims in court, emails in possession of The Daily Beast show him “repeatedly taking issue with Benjamin’s attempts to make the school inclusive to all faiths, races, and sexualities.”
In one message, Sparks reprimanded Benjamin for “what some perceive as an agenda that strives to make homosexuality open and accepted.” In another, Sparks lists his complaints against the former headmaster, like “misplaced priorities at the school level (GLBT, diversity, the beauty of other religions, as opposed to academic/curricular/global issues, Christian traditions, etc.).”
Benjamin said that he noticed problems with the school in New Bern, North Carolina almost immediately after moving his family there and accepting the role in 2013. He claims it was overwhelmingly white and Christian with only two black students enrolled during his first year, despite it’s marketing as an institution devoted to being worldly and accepting.
He said that he brought his concerns to Sparks, who told him black students weren’t represented at the Epiphany School because they’re “too poor and can’t do the academic work.”
Sparks did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
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