Peoria, Ill., Jul 17, 2010 / 06:52 am (CNA).- Since the news of Dr. Kenneth Howell’s dismissal from the University of Illinois became public, students have been voicing their support for the professor and making efforts to bring him back to the university in the fall.
Howell was terminated this spring from his teaching position at the university for explaining in his Introduction to Catholicism class that the Catholic Church opposed homosexual behavior because it violates natural law.
An anonymous student complained that Howell’s statements were “hate speech.” Howell was subsequently fired, however, he maintains that he was simply presenting Catholic teaching in a class on Catholic thought.
The decision has received substantial media coverage, and the university has announced that it will have a faculty committee review the dismissal. The Diocese of Peoria has also announced that it will meet with officials from the university on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, students from the university and around the country have rallied around Howell in support and defense, trying to raise awareness of his situation.
University of Illinois student Kristin DeSutter said that Howell “doesn’t deserve” to be fired for his teaching.
DeSutter was a student in the Introduction to Catholicism class this spring where Howell made the statements that resulted in his dismissal. She said that she was shocked when she heard that Howell was fired.
“He was a wonderful professor,” she told CNA. “He was very fair.”