Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No Free Speech at State Universities?

If you listen to what is going on around us in the USA you have probably heard that the so-called "separation of church and state" (which is an attempt to summarize the First Amendment's religion clauses) has been used to justify all manner of restrictions. What I have read about our Founders leads me to believe they would not approve of such restrictions in the name of the First Amendment.

And we often hear about how important it is to maintain free speech on campuses of our colleges and universities. We desire a free exchange of ideas, right?

So how can an instructor who teaches a class on Catholicism in a university's Religion Department be fired for teaching what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality? If happened to Kenneth Howell at the University of Illinois. He was teaching what I understand to be the Catholic Church's stance on sexuality. Suppose Mr. Howell were teaching a class like "21st-Century Treatment of Sexuality" and said that in that context it is assumed that homosexual unions are equal to heterosexual unions? Can anyone imagine that a state university would have fired him for that? I, for one, cannot.

The First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a national religion, and it protect all our rights to freely exercise our religion. The man we quote when we raise the "separation" issue, Thomas Jefferson, was President of the United States when we began the practice of holding weekly church services in several federal buildings, including the chambers of Congress. Did he really want to keep all discussion of religion away from governmental institutions?

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