Students at the University of Illinois loved and respected Professor Kenneth Howell for his kindness, fairness, and knowledge. They were stunned when after teaching at the University for ten years, their professor was suddenly fired.
Professor Howell taught an “Introduction to Roman Catholicism” class, an overview of Roman Catholicism’s views. It included the church’s view on homosexuality, which state that a person is not morally responsible for feeling same sex attraction, but acting on that attraction is “gravely immoral.”
“If I was teaching a class on civil engineering, I wouldn’t teach on that. But if I’m teaching a class on Catholicism, then it is my obligation to teach what the Catholic Church is teaching,” Dr. Howell stated.
A student took an email the professor sent to his class to the LGTB office on campus. The University did not give Professor Howell an opportunity to explain or defend himself before immediately firing him.
His outraged students organized a protest on his behalf. They contacted the media, sent letters to the university president, and started a support page on Facebook. Alliance Defending Freedom sent the university a letter, explaining that the university’s actions violated Professor Howell’s rights protected by the First Amendment and asking that he be reinstated.
The efforts of the students and the community paid off: while not admitting any wrong doing, the university allowed Dr. Howell to return to his teaching position.
Learn more about free speech and freedom of religion issues on university campuses.