the illini & the religious teaching of religion

Another interesting story connected to religious dialogue and religious freedom on campus came up this week. (If you missed it, here’s the rundown of the recent Supreme Court ruling against a college ministry in Northern California.)

This week’s news involves the University of Illinois firing a prof for sharing the Catholic teaching against homosexuality. The especially pertinent fact of the issue at hand, however, is that the professor teaches religious courses – specifically, an intro to Catholicism, which provided the context for his comments.

Notably, the University of Illinois is now reviewing their firing of this professor. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do.

The Chicago Tribune reports,

Chancellor Robert Easter has asked the University of Illinois’ Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure to determine whether the university violated the academic freedom of adjunct associate professor Kenneth Howell by barring him from teaching classes on introduction to Catholicism and modern Catholic thought.

Howell, who has taught on the Urbana-Champaign campus since 2001, was barred last month after explaining during class why the church believes that homosexual behavior violates natural moral law. He elaborated later in an e-mail to students, which lawyers say circulated around campus and prompted complaints.

For more, here are some links you might find helpful:

U of I to Review Removal of Religion Professor – from the Chicago Tribune

Alliance Defense Fund remarks on the issue, including links to a couple of other cases from around the country

U. of I. Too Quick to Fire Catholic Prof, an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times

U. of Ill. to Review Catholic Instructor’s Firing, the AP story as carried by the Tribune


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