image 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.

12 comments
  1. Sorry, but this isn’t a first amendment issue. The First Amendment only applies as against the federal government, an employee can be fired by an employer for saying anything and there is absolutely first amendment issue, even if the employer is the government. Furthermore, academic freedom has been held by the Supreme Court of the United States in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke to apply to the university’s ability to determine “who may teach and what may be taught,” and this does not to individual teachers. Nice try though, got any more pseudo-legal mumbo jumbo you’d like to throw around?

    1. You cite one case. Gee like the Supreme Court hasn’t been known to reverse itself.

      The First Amendment doesn’t just apply to the Federal Government. Two cases in Iowa one from I think 1969 and the other recently. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District – a ruling against local school district on First Amendment grounds.

      Then a federal district judge ruled against the Osceola County Sheriff because he violated the First Amendment rights of a political activist by not issuing him a conceal carry permit because of his activism.

      Not saying this will be a slam dunk, but the guy has a case and he could very well win if he does choose to sue.

  2. Hmmm….if I e-mailed the Biology Department and told them my professor was teaching the theory of evolution and I felt that it was against what I believed, would he be fired for teaching evolution. Absolutely not!!!! This professor was teaching a class on CathoIicism and stated what the Catholics believe. He was doing his job.

    1. Huge difference between teaching Evolution, a proven scientific fact of how life came to be the way it is, and teaching that homosexuality goes against Natural Law, which of course is an asinine statement. If it went against Natural Law then there would be no homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom, other than in Humans… and that’s just not the case. There are hundreds of species of animals that display homosexual behavior. Either way… he wasn’t teaching what the Catholic Church believes… he was presenting this hateful idea to the students as if it were true. Any school with integrity that has a teacher that is teaching something that can easily be proven to be false by any reasonable person (IE… non-religious person) has an obligation to remove the offending teacher. He wasn’t teaching this as “This is what the Catholic Church believes”, he was teaching it as “This is what is”. And to say that secular humanism is a religion is just plain stupid. Try looking up the definitions of both “secular” and “religious”.

      1. “Evolution, a proven scientific fact of how life came to be the way it is”

        Are you serious?

        I’ll give you microevolution, but Darwin’s theory of evolution hasn’t been proven, not by a long shot.

      2. ” then there would be no homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom, other than in Humans… and that’s just not the case. There are hundreds of species of animals that display homosexual behavior”

        Three things I find strange about this argument. First, I sure would like the source for this “hundreds of species” claim. How do these species propagate? Second, homosexuals complain when their acts are compared with bestiality, yet don’t hesitate to say that they are just animals. Third, a dog lifts his leg against trees and fire hydrants. Are these folks really arguing for the right to urinate publicly?

  3. “To the best of my knowledge, in a sexual relationship between two men, one of them tends to act as the ‘woman’ while the other acts as the ‘man.’ In this scenario, homosexual men have been known to engage in certain types of actions for which their bodies are not fitted. I don’t want to be too graphic so I won’t go into details but a physician has told me that these acts are deleterious to the health of one or possibly both of the men. Yet, if the morality of the act is judged only by mutual consent, then there are clearly homosexual acts which are injurious to their health but which are consented to. Why are they injurious? Because they violate the meaning, structure, and (sometimes) health of the human body.”

    He closed the e-mail by saying: “Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions. As a final note, a perceptive reader will have noticed that none of what I have said here or in class depends upon religion. Catholics don’t arrive at their moral conclusions based on their religion. They do so based on a thorough understanding of natural reality.”

    He wasn’t just teaching objective truth – he was inserting his own misinformed opinions and rationalizations against homosexuality and its morality. That is the problem. Way to be selective, though.

  4. That’s not to say he should haven’t been dismissed the way he was – or maybe even at all. As a student, I’m paying to be taught, not to have my head filled with nonsense. That goes for any subject matter. Preaching bothers me less than idiocy, the latter of which should get someone fired.

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