Catholic Professor Fired Over Beliefs

“The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student
accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church’s teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.”

Ave Maria for this man bearing witness to the truth! I am not surprised that this liberal thinktank did this, since they are enemies of God. As Christ said,“And you shall be brought before governors, and before kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.The world cannot hate you; but me it hates: because I give testimony of it, that their works thereof are evil.” We will be persecuted and we must be ready to bear witness.

Heavenly Father, give me the graces of courage, patience, and humility. Let me Love your enemies: do good to them that hate You: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate Your children.

The First Amendment is alive and well in 49 states.

Here is the professor’s account of what happened:


I think I am more offended that he got fired from the Newman Centre than from the University. However, what the !@#$%^&* did the University think he was going to teach when he teaches about Catholicism?

From what I gathered from the professor’s account of the situation, the Newman Center is unable to employ him if he’s not in a teaching capacity at the university.

This is truly an outrage. How is saying that *acts *are sinful “hate speech”?? I’ve never understood the logic.

Here is the email he sent out to his students, which seems to be the source of the problem:

Here is the emailed complaint, name redacted, which was sent to the university to complain about the instructor:

Since the course was an elective, and since the instructor’s position was paid for by the Diocese of Peoria, I am not sure why there is any problem. The instructor even offered, in response to the complaint, not to discuss the issue of homosexuality in the future. Shouldn’t this be enough?

[quote=Fox News article]Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, said professors should be able to tell students their own views and even argue in favor of them, provided students can disagree without being penalized.

“It’s part of intellectual life to advocate for points of view,” said Nelson, an emeritus English professor at the University of Illinois. “Hopefully when they go out in the world, they can emulate that. They can argue a case, and do it in a well-informed and articulate way, and can make a more productive contribution to our democracy that way.”

This does seem to be an issue of academic freedom. Unless there is significantly more to the story, I hope the instructor is reinstated.

Honestly, I am surprised that the Newman Center, and the Diocese of Peoria, abandoned him. Unless there is significantly more information than has been reported. But on the face of it, Prof. Howell seems to have suffered a severe injustice.

In case you didn’t know, Dr. Howell is a former Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1996. He was hired by the university in 1998 specifically to teach classes in Catholicism. He has written several books on Catholic teachings, and he’s always been extremely orthodox/traditional. It should not come as a shock to anyone that he agrees with what the Church teaches!

What he said is no more “hate speech” than for an observant Jewish professor who was HIRED to teach courses in Judaism to explain the basis of the Jewish dietary laws and state that he personally follows them, and have a student whose family runs a hog farm take offense at it :rolleyes: Or for a Muslim professor, teaching a course on Islam, to explain why Islam forbids alcohol and the students who plan on getting drunk that weekend complain that he is engaging in “hate speech.” (Like that would ever happen, of course).

All that being said, WHY has the Newman Center and the Diocese of Peoria apparently simply hung this guy out to dry? If I’m reading his letter correctly, he offered to continue working for the Newman Center with his classes being accredited through a Catholic university, and they just said “Sorry, can’t help you, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” That to me is almost as appalling as what the university did.:mad:

If the “Institute of Catholic Thought” is structured in such a way that an instructor could no longer work for the Institute if he no longer worked for the university, and the diocese had no legal recourse to prevent his or her firing, then it’s high time they did something about that. The U of I has had an outstanding Newman Center for many years, one of the best in the country, and I have often said that one can get a better Catholic education there than at many “Catholic in name only” schools. If they don’t do something to prevent this from happening again, I will have to take that back. :eek:

IMHO, A taste of things to come folks.

The biggest problem with the profs argument is that he draws a line from A-to-L instead of from A-to-B with his examples. The second problem is “natural law” itself. As humankind has limited understanding of nature for us to assume we know all the nuances of what nature intends is absurd. I think one can make as much of an argument that homosexuality does follow natural law. Perhaps it’s natures way of curtailing any surplus breeding population of the human species, which, for reasons unknown is one of the few where the female is, to be blunt since we’re dealing “natural law” in heat every 28 days rather than twice a year or quarterly like most other mammals.

Um, natural law doesn’t mean “from nature” when used in its ethical context. Perhaps you should read up a bit on the subject.

One may be able to or not to justify homosexuality from nature. However, the natural law is the absolute minimum law of morality. In Thomistic langauge, we can know PART of the truth with our natural senses, alebit a very limited fraction. We NEED God and faith to uncover the complete truth of us and the cosmos. IF homosexual behavior is justifiable by natural law, and I mean IF, then it is only a part of a fraction, an imperfection in the moral order in God’s eyes. The Law of God is much more stringent and demanding then the natural law. Homosexuality is ALWAYS wrong in the eyes of God.

Yes. We have reached a point at which merely teaching the basics of Catholic moral theology from the standpoint of “this is what the Catholic Church teaches, and this is how it arrives at its conclusions,” in a course designed for precisely that purpose, is viewed as an exercise in hate speech. The academic elites do not want to hear it, only to condemn it. They might be perfectly happy to have a course on Catholicism taught by a Catholic dissenter, though.

At some point, I can envision that even our posts on Catholic Answers will be used against us.

So he should lose his job for teaching the Catholic perspective?

I believe I recall seeing Dr. Howell on The Journey Home. An articulate, intelligent, interesting and devout man.

Isn’t this a little like a baseball coach getting fired because he teaches there are three outs in an inning. Or a math teacher teaching 1 + 1 = 2?

This is totally absurd. The catholic church DOES teach homosexual activity is immoral. How could one possibly get around that without being untruthful as to what the church teaches and believes?

Isn’t this ridiculous beyond belief?

I think the university made the wrong decision, and I hope they reinstate Dr. Howell.

However, if you read the email he sent, he doesn’t make clear that he is explaining Catholic Church teaching. The email conveys the impression that he is defending his own viewpoint. Naturally enough, I suppose, since he is Catholic. Still, the final paragraph comes across as a personal viewpoint of his, and is expressed in a condescending manner. He states that the point he argues has nothing to do with religion, but that his students aren’t qualified to question it either.

I think the professor shot himself in the foot with the email. In the future, he needs to do a better job making clear when he is explaining Catholic teaching (the subject of the course) and when he is explaining his personal opinions.

The student’s letter to the faculty member is absolutely mind-boggling in its level of ignorance, but I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising coming from a college-age student in 2010, who has undoubtedly been completely indoctrinated in politically-correct, morally-defunct rationalism from the very first day of kindergarten.

Some of the choicer gems:

It sickens me to know that hard-working Illinoisans are funding the salary of a man who does nothing but try to indoctrinate students and perpetuate stereotypes.

Really? If the indoctrination and stereotypes were, say, “America is an oppressive imperialist country”, or “White people are certainly more racist than black people”, or “Christians always try to shove their morality down everybody else’s throat”, I’ll bet you a two-dollar dog the kid would have eaten that right up and agreed with it 900%.

Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.

So he thinks that homosexual acts don’t violate natural law? The alimentary canal is designed for the disposal of waste, not the reception of a sexual organ, and the male sexual organ is designed for the introduction of semen into the female reproductive tract. I would be wiling to bet that if someone suggested to him that broccoli is best accepted into the body by being shoved up one’s nose, he’d find that idea (rightly) ridiculous—the nose wasn’t designed for that. But it makes just as much sense as the other.

I can only imagine how ashamed and uncomfortable a gay student would feel if he/she were to take this course. I am a heterosexual male and I found this completely appalling.

It’s good to know that the homosexuals have people like him looking out for them—being, as they are, evidently unable to speak for themselves…

Also, my friend also told me that the teacher allowed little room for any opposition to Catholic dogma. Once again, he is guilty of limiting the marketplace of ideas and acting out of accord with this institution’s mission and principles.

It’s a Catholic professor teaching a Catholic course on Catholic moral theology—what did they expect him to say? If Catholicism offends you, then don’t take the friggin’ course. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head and forcing you to become a devout Catholic.

I mean, this ain’t rocket science, lad. If it bothers you, don’t partake. Isn’t that what the mantra usually is for people who find certain TV progamming offensive? “Just shut it off! Nobody’s forcing you to watch!”

I have Cc’d Leslie Morrow, director of the LGBT Resource Center, on this e-mail as well as…Siobhan Somerville, a former teacher of mine and the founder of the queer studies major.

Good to see he obviously has no bias underpinning his heartfelt concerns, there. :rolleyes:

I didn’t go to Notre Dame for a reason

I think that much is fairly obvious.

I’m sure no-one is surprised by this, but seriously, what was this guy thinkimg?

I agree with that assessment. First of all, the student seems to be in error when he claims that Dr. Howell’s salary was funded by Illinois taxes. The local newspaper in Champaign, IL says that the salary was paid for by the Institute of Catholic Thought, which seems to be part of the Newman Center, as well as the Diocese of Peoria. The Fox News article (cited in the first post) says that his salary came from the diocese. My guess is that the diocese is the main funder of the Institute of Catholic Thought, and not the government of Illinois.

Then, there is the matter of the student who complained wasn’t even taking the class.

And, as you pointed out, “Introduction to Catholicism” is an elective. No one has to take the course. Those who do can hardly object to being exposed to the views of the Catholic Church.

I think the student complaint earns a failing grade.

Unfortunately for the professor; unless he’s in a union or has a personal service agreement with the university, there’s not much that can be done for him.

While under the first admendment which guarantee’s freedom of speech, he cannot be charged criminally in this instance, labor law is much different and freedom of speech is more limited.

Morally I think its wrong that he was discharged by his employer, but regrettably, many employers in this country (including educational organizations) have no morals.

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