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Can teacher give Catholic view on gays?

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., July 15 (UPI) -- A faculty committee at the University of Illinois has been asked to determine whether a teacher has the right to instruct on Catholic views on homosexuality.

Kenneth Howell, who has been teaching at the Champaign campus for almost 10 years, was barred last month from teaching courses giving an overview of Roman Catholicism and Catholic thought, the Chicago Tribune reported. Ann Mester, an associate dean, said that his views, expressed in the classroom and in an e-mail message to students that homosexuality violates natural law, "violate university standards of inclusivity."

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Howell is being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative group in Arizona that defends religious freedom.

"The context is pretty clear. … He was trying to give clarity to what the Catholic position is," Jordan Lorence, a lawyer with the fund, said. "They had had a robust discussion in class. He felt this e-mail would give greater clarity."

Chancellor Robert Easter has asked the faculty Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure to investigate the case and determine if Howell's free speech rights have been violated.

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