Church Teaching Unwelcome, Even in Catholicism Class

Professor Fired for Explaining Natural Law and Homosexuality

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CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, JULY 19, 2010 ( Attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund have approached the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign regarding the firing of a Introduction to Catholicism professor.

Why was Kenneth Howell fired? He presented Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

A friend of one of his students sent an e-mail to university authorities in protest. Among the ideas in the email: “Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.”

Unwittingly, the author of the complaint gave a good summary precisely of a tenet of Catholic teaching. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes in No. 2357, “[…] ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law.”

Senior Counsel David French of he Alliance Defense Fund protested what he called censoring a professor’s speech “including classroom speech related to the topic of the class — merely because certain ideas ‘offend’ an anonymous student.”

“It’s ridiculous that a school would fire a professor without even giving him a chance to defend himself when he simply taught Catholic beliefs in a class about Catholic beliefs,” French added.

Howell has been teaching at the university since 2001 and has been recognized by students for excellence in teaching. He also had a directorial position at the Newman Center on campus, which he also lost since he would no longer be employed by the university.

“The First Amendment protects the ability of faculty to speak freely, especially when the material is of direct relevance to the class,” French stated. “Professors’ careers cannot be made to stand or fall based on the emotions of intolerant, anonymous students who do not yet understand that opposing viewpoints exist within a free society.”

The Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, is scheduled to meet with university officials to discuss the termination.

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