Professor Kenneth Howell has been fired from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Department of Religion because he dared to teach - in a course dedicated to the exploration and explanation of Catholic theology - that according to Catholic belief, homosexuality is wrong.
Welcome to academic freedom in the 21st century!
It mattered not that Dr. Howell has won several awards for excellence in teaching from that same august institution. He has spoken ill of the dead (morally dead, anyway), and so must be punished!
Now, this by itself would not be particularly big news.
Universities are renowned for their hatred of things Catholic.
What a lot of people don't realize is that, for over 60 years, the UIUC campus has hosted the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Conference. The largest conference of its kind in the world, once every three years evangelical Christians from across the nation gather at UIUC for short summer courses that discussed how best to evangelize the nation and the world to Christianity. The last conference was in 2009. The UIUC happily rented classroom, auditoria and dormitory space to these evangelical Christians with nary so much as a whimper. They did, after all, at least embrace contraception with open arms.
Money has reasons which ethics knows not.
Apparently, however, ethics eventually triumphed because it looks like UIUC has kicked out the IVC, who ultimately had to relocate a short way down the road to St. Louis. If you can dump the income from 16,000 evangelical Christians, then dumping one Catholic professor should be easy. It has the added bonus of potentially scaring all the other Christian faculty into silence.
According to my sources, Dr. Howell, upon being notified of his dismissal, went back to the Newman Center and told the sad tale. In recognition of the terrible narrow-mindedness shown by UIUC, the Newman Center patted the good doctor on the back, commiserated with him for a few moments, then fired him as well.
Well, because he had been hired to teach UIUC courses, and now that the horse had thrown the rider, there was no need for the rider, you see.
Dr. Howell reportedly pointed out that the classes could still be offered through the Newman Center, if they were accredited through a Catholic college and the credits were then transferred back to UIUC - a reasonable solution, if you were really interested in accurately teaching Catholic theology on campus.
"No, oh NO!" replied the Newman Center, "That would NEVER do!"
The plan was then pitched to the Bishop's office - the good Bishop Jenky and his lay woman chancellor.
"No, oh NO!" replied the bishop's office, "That would NEVER do!"
And so it is, dear readers, that Dr. Kenneth Howell has to rely on the good offices of a Protestant legal defense fund because his own department at the UIUC refused to endorse academic freedom, the Newman Center saw nothing Newman-like in Dr. Howell's presentation, and the bishop's office saw no reason to employ or even to support a Catholic professor who accurately teaches Catholic theology.
Oh, did I mention?
Bishop Jenky is from Notre Dame (founded by the CSC), is himself a CSC (Congregation of the Holy Cross), and is himself a fellow of that fine institution. It may also be of mild interest that he is one of the men who stayed conspicuously silent when Barack came calling for his Ph.D. in law last year.
What a COINCIDENCE!