Dr. Kenneth Howell was an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Congratulated by the university for excellence in teaching in the Fall of 2009, he was recently fired for affirming, in an e-mail to the students of his "Introduction to Catholicism" course, the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. According to The News-Gazette:
In early May, Howell wrote a lengthy e-mail to his students, in preparation for an exam, in which he discusses how the theory of utilitarianism and natural law theory would judge the morality of homosexual acts.
"Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY," he wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The News-Gazette. "In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same."
He went on to write there has been a disassociation of sexual activity from morality and procreation, in contradiction of Natural Moral Theory.
The offensive e-mail was forwarded by an irate student to university officials, and the rest is history. It appears that he was fired from the Newman Center as well. At this point the diocese does not seem to be standing behind him, but according to an update on a Facebook page in support of Dr. Howell, Bishop Jenky is trying to get him re-instated. There are stories here, here, here, here, and here.
So, let's not expect any more tolerance from the Tolerant Ones. I am reminded of Msgr. Benson's "Lord of the World" in which the humanitarians turn on a dime from gentle doves to ferocious persecutors, the logic being that the intolerant Catholics must be eliminated to create a tolerant world. Don't get me wrong - the firing of a Catholic university professor is far from red martyrdom - though, perhaps, not quite as far as it seems.