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Legatus Magazine

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Patrick Novecosky | author
Sep 01, 2010
Filed under Featured
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Christians need not apply

Students and professors blasted for expressing their faith beliefs on campus . . .

The University of Illinois fired a Catholic professor in May for answering a student’s emailed question on what the Church teaches regarding homosexuality. An anonymous email complained about the incident, leading to Dr. Ken Howell’s prompt dismissal.

Dr. Ken Howell

Dr. Ken Howell

This summer saw a string of similar incidents on campuses across the country. Eastern Michigan University officials told Julea Ward, a Christian student, that she could only continue graduate studies in school counseling if she changed her beliefs on homosexuality and agreed to attend “diversity sensitivity training.”

Similarly, officials at Augusta State University told student Jen Keeton that she could only continue her graduate work in student counseling if she changed her position on homosexuality and enroll in a “sensitivity” program. Keeton was told to go to a “gay pride parade” as part of her remediation.

“Bad as these attempts to censor religious freedom are, even worse are the proposed remedies,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue said in a news release. “‘Diversity sensitivity’ and ‘remediation programs’ smack of thought control. Totalitarian in nature, they have no legitimate role to play in American society, much less on college campuses.”

Abuse and censorship

Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel David French concurs. He contends that the academy is so hostile to Judeo-Christian morality that it has completely shut out any discussion on the subject.

David French

David French

“Traditional Judeo-Christian moral values regarding human sexuality are now seen by many on campus as bigoted and deeply repugnant,” said French, whose firm is defending Ward, Keeton and Howell. “Mainstream thought in the academy is that traditional Judeo-Christian morality is no longer fit for the marketplace of ideas.”

Parents must prepare their children for hostility and censorship if they’re sending them to secular universities, he said.

“Even mentioning in class that marriage is between a man and a woman led a professor to call one student a ‘fascist bastard,’ stop his speech, refuse to give him a grade and threaten him with expulsion,” French explained. “These are not intellectual acts, these are not arguments against our Christian students. They are abuse and censorship.”

Despite the hostility, however, there is reason for hope. The public, together with thousands of students, rallied to Howell’s defense after his termination — resulting in the university reinstating him in late July.

“Professor Howell may have been out of the mainstream of the academy, but the academy was out of the mainstream of the larger community,” French said. “It shows the real power of mobilizing the community to hold the university accountable. The academy does respond to criticism.”

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.

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