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U of I says Kenneth Howell will continue as adjunct professor
Editor's Note: There's some good news from the academic front for a change. Attorneys representing the University of Illinois contacted the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) to inform them that Dr. Kenneth Howell will be permitted to teach courses again Fall Semester. (See story below.)The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana confirmed to Alliance Defense Fund attorneys Thursday that it will once again allow popular professor Dr. Kenneth Howell to teach on Catholicism after recently firing him for explaining the Roman Catholic Church's position on human sexual behavior to members of his class.
This is, indeed, good news, but, unfortunately it comes right on the heels of an academic travesty. Julea Ward, a graduate student in Eastern Michigan University's counseling program, lost her case against the school. She was kicked out of the program when she referred a homosexual client to another counselor because of a conflict between her religious beliefs and counseling someone on a homosexual relationship. Ms. Ward was told that in order to remain in the program, she would have to engage in "remediation," in order to change her beliefs. She refused remediation, was interrogated, mocked, and ultimately dismissed from the program. With the help of the ADF, she sued, and lost. The ADF plans on appealing the decision. (Read more HERE.) ~Laurie Higgins
ADF attorneys representing Howell sent a letter to university officials on July 12 explaining that the university's actions violated his rights protected by the First Amendment and asked that he be reinstated.
"A university cannot censor professors' speech -- including classroom speech related to the topic of the class -- merely because certain ideas 'offend' an anonymous student. We greatly appreciate the university's move to put Professor Howell back in the classroom, but we will be watching carefully to make sure that his academic freedom is protected throughout the university's ongoing process," said ADF Senior Counsel David French.
A letter from the University of Illinois Office of University Counsel admits no wrongdoing on the part of the university but states, "The School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics will be contacting Dr. Howell to offer him the opportunity to teach Religion 127, Introduction to Catholicism, on a visiting instructional appointment at the University of Illinois, for the fall 2010 semester. Dr. Howell will be appointed and paid by the University for this adjunct teaching assignment."
The letter then adds that a university committee will continue its investigation of Howell's situation.
Howell, who had been teaching at the university since 2001, was relieved of his teaching duties based in part on an anonymous complaint sent via e-mail to university officials. The e-mail was sent by the friend of an anonymous student who claimed to be "offended" by a May 4 e-mail Howell sent to students elaborating on a class discussion concerning Catholic beliefs about sexual behavior.
The May 4 e-mail from Howell addressed a May 3 lecture in which he explained how the Roman Catholic Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and homosexual conduct. He accurately stated the church's teaching that homosexual conduct is morally wrong, framing the issue in the context of natural moral law.