I think we’ll be seeing more and more of this as it seems like the First Amendment doesn’t apply on college campuses so long as homosexuals are concerned. The News-Gazette in Champaign, IL reports that Kenneth Howell, an instructor of Catholicism at the University of Illinois’s Department of Religion, was fired because he said the Catholic Church believes homosexual acts are morally wrong.
That has been the position of the Vatican, and he is supposed to teach Catholicism – so what’s the problem? There shouldn’t be except this is homosexuality we are talking about. Apparently professors are either supposed to overlook the topic or lie about the Church’s position.
Some may decry, but its a state institution! Separation of Church and State (forget the fact that its ok in their mind to promote a secular humanist point of view – which is a religious POV)! Never fear, his position was funded by the Institute of Catholic Thought – no state funds.
According to The News-Gazette, here’s the offense:
One of his lectures in the introductory class on Catholicism focuses on the application of natural law theory to a social issue. In early May, Howell wrote a lengthy e-mail to his students, in preparation for an exam, in which he discusses how the theory of utilitarianism and natural law theory would judge the morality of homosexual acts.
"Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY," he wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The News-Gazette. "In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same."
He went on to write there has been a disassociation of sexual activity from morality and procreation, in contradiction of Natural Moral Theory.
The student complaint came in a May 13 e-mail to Robert McKim, head of the religion department. The author of the e-mail said he was writing on behalf of a friend – a student in Howell’s class, who wanted to remain anonymous. The e-mail complained about Howell’s statements about homosexuality, which the student called "hate speech."
"Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing," the student wrote in the e-mail. "Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one’s worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation."
Howell said he was presenting the idea that the Catholic moral teachings are based on natural moral law, and the Catholic understanding of what that means.
"My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches," Howell said. "I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I’m teaching and they’ll never be judged on that."
He also said he’s open with students about his own beliefs.
So not only has his First Amendment rights been violated, but his academic freedom as well. A University should be a marketplace of ideas. The student claimed that courses at UI “should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought,” I agree. Which is why views like Howell’s should be taught. Labeling a position you disagree with as hate speech squelches that.
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