The online Chronicle of Higher Education (which requires a subscription) is reporting that protesters against the government of Thailand have been raising funds, in part, by selling $3 diplomas for a doctoral degree in insurrection.

Protestors have occupied the grounds of Thailand’s Government House since August 26, when they took over the offices of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, whom they consider a puppet of the former regime. A Thai court has since removed Samak from office for conflict of interest after he appeared on a television show called “Cooking and Grumbling,” but that has not satisfied protesters, who say they’ll remain on the grounds until a crony-less new government is formed.

The $3 degrees are for sale from a makeshift tent called “Ratchadamnoen University,” a pretend school named for the road where rallies were held to demand that Thailand’s prime minister step down. It boasts a “curriculum to rescue the nation” where protesters can get a real political education.

Actress and activist Karnchanit Summakul, who came up with the idea, said thousands of Ph.D.’s have been sold since the sit-in began. Even one person described as “an education official from central Thailand” got in on the action. “I bought this certificate because I felt I was educated by activities here,” said Wassana Boonme. “The rally has taught me politics in practice.”

My first reaction was to think of how many church members I’ve known or heard about who could claim earned doctorates in insurrection for actvities aimed toward overthrowing their pastor.

In some cases, no doubt, they have done a good thing. Some pastors mislead their churches and ought to be overthrown — which usually indicates they shouldn’t have been called to begin with. In that case, the pastor may have earned a doctorate in “pulling the wool over their eyes” by pretending to be something he was not, or the search committee may have learned a painful lesson in failure to do due diligence.

In other cases, good pastors with prophetic vision face insurrection from members who have seen the church as a social club and don’t to be faced with the challenges of Jesus.

Either way, in these economically challenging times for churches, they might want to consider the offering of doctorates as a fund-raising tool. For $10 and adequate experience, perhaps, one could be a “Doctor of Nursery Work,” a “Doctor of Disaster Relief,” or a “Doctor of Deacons.”

Any of those titles would certainly be preferable to “Doctor of Division.”

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