The University's "Alma Mater" statue - depicting the school's motto of "Learning and Labor" ... or at least some "learning"

By Daniel Crandall

Here’s yet another case of reality intruding where only the satirical newspaper, The Onion, once trod. An adjunct professor at the University of Illinois was fired for explaining Catholic beliefs concerning Natural Law to students enrolled in a class about Catholicism.

[Professor Ken] Howell, who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, says he was fired at the end of the spring semester after sending an e-mail explaining some Catholic beliefs to his students preparing for an exam.

What bit of pedagogy was so verboten that the University of Illinois could no longer abide Prof. Howell’s presence on campus? That would be nothing less than the Church’s teaching concerning homosexual behavior:

“Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY…. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.”

This bit of Catholic doctrine so offended one student that it resulted in an anonymous message being sent to religion department head Robert McKim complaining of, you guessed it, “hate speech.” The complaining student, however, isn’t even in Prof. Howell’s class:

An unidentified . . . student claimed to be a friend of the offended student. The writer said in the e-mail that his friend wanted to remain anonymous.

An anonymous student complains on behalf of an anonymous student that the latter was offended by Catholic doctrine being taught in a class about Catholic doctrine. That’s astonishingly weak evidence on which to base a firing, to say the least.

This chain of anonymous messages sent the secular black robes at the University of Illinois into politically correct, fundamentalist outrage. An associate dean of U of I’s College of Liberal Arts suggested the firing, writing the following:

The e-mails sent by Dr. Howell violate university standards of inclusivity, which would then entitle us to have him discontinue his teaching arrangement with us.

Prof . Howell also lost his director position with the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center’s Institute of Catholic Thought, located at U of I. This was a position paid for by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Apparently, at the University of Illinois and in the Diocese of Peoria one can be Catholic, just not too Catholic.

If you’re thinking of taking advantage of the job vacancy at this rather scenic seat of secular sobriety, you’ve been warned: Nancy Pelosi-type Catholics only need apply.