Prof. Removed for Stance on Gays Can Return

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An Illinois college professor removed for voicing his agreement with the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality has been offered his teaching position back.

Dr. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor who taught classes on Catholicism, was notified in July by the University of Illinois he would no longer be able to teach courses in university's department of religion.

Howell, who is Catholic, stated during a class discussion about church teaching that he agrees with the Catholic prohibition on homosexual sex.

The decision to remove the Catholic instructor came after a friend of an unidentified student told school officials in an e-mail that the Howell's comments amounted to hate speech. Howell's defenders have pointed out that he did not force his faith on students and has been cited for excellence in the past.

Meanwhile, Howell's attorney David Hacker expressed cautious optimism over the school's decision to reinstate his client.

"We're extremely pleased that Dr. Howell is back in the classroom," said Hacker, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund. "But we'll be watching carefully to make sure his academic freedom is protected through this ongoing process."

Hacker said the school has admitted no wrongdoing, but its committee on academic freedom will consider whether the professor's rights were violated.

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