Back on July 9, here, I wrote about Dr. Kenneth Howell who was fired by the University of Illinois for setting forth Catholic doctrine on homosexuality in a class that he was teaching on Catholicism pursuant to a contract between the University of Illinois and the local Newman Center on campus. On July 14, I reported here that the firing was under review by a faculty committee of the University of Illinois. The committee hasn’t completed its review, but there have been a few developments that I thought our readers might find interesting.
1. An interesting story here by the News-Gazette, the local Champaign-Urbana paper, detailing how Dr. Howell went from a Presbyterian Minister to a lay Catholic.
2. The Alliance Defense Fund which is representing Dr. Howell, sent a letter to the University of Illinois on July 12, demanding his reinstatement. Read the letter here. The Alliance Defense Fund highlights the absurdity of this situation rather well with this statement: “A university cannot censor professors’ speech–including classroom speech related to the topic of the class–merely because certain ideas ‘offend’ an anonymous student,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French. “To fire a professor for teaching the actual subject matter of his course is outrageous. 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.”
3. One thing I have learned while examining this controversy is just what a nice guy Dr. Howell is, and how open to argument and debate he is. These characteristics are both noted by atheist John Loftus at his website here. Dr. Howell is a model of what a university Professor should be: knowledgeable as to his subject and willing to discuss and debate with anyone in an atmosphere of mutual respect and open inquiry. That a man of his calibre has been subject to this type of politically correct firing is a total travesty.
4. Here are statements by both the Newman Center and the Diocese of Peoria as to Dr. Howell. They are behind him and attempting to have the firing decision reversed. This is all to the good. However I must note that they seemed to be rather quiet about this matter initially and I wonder if either the Newman Center or the Diocese would have done much of anything if a furor hadn’t first arisen.
5. The University of Illinois officials in the face of this controversy have done what academic time serving bureaucrats always do when caught pulling a fast one: dither and obfuscate. The obfuscation was on full display in this hilarious recent statement detailed by Lifesite News:
“In response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Catholic professor who was barred from teaching after he explained Catholic teaching on homosexuality to the students in a class on Catholicism, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has defended the decision by saying that the professor was not actually “fired” – he’s just not allowed to teach any more classes.
UIUC administration has reportedly been deluged with outraged emails and phone calls after news broke that Dr. Kenneth Howell was abruptly disallowed to teach after a student complained about an e-mail in which Howell outlined the arguments for how homosexual behavior is contrary to natural moral law – words the student deemed “hate speech.” The remarks were made in the context of an email to students in a class on Catholicism; Howell had taught classes on Catholicism at the school and its Catholic Newman Center for several years.
After lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) notified university officials that they were launching legal action, UIUC deputy counsel Steven Veazie responded that, because Howell is still a member of the faculty, there are no grounds for litigation, according to CNSNews.”
While admitting that the professor’s teaching assignment is “as yet undetermined pending a review of this matter,” Veazie said that because Howell’s legal rights have not been violated, there is “no case or controversy upon which legal action would be warranted at this time.”
Yeah, it will be a cold day in the place where lying academics go after they die before my alma mater will see a dime from me as a donation.