The law firm "First Liberty" has taken on a case defending a biology professor fired for teaching biology.
As stupid as that sounds, it just might be the sum of it. "First Liberty," (a law firm specializing in religious liberty and freedom-of-speech cases) has taken on the case of a biology professor who ultimately was fired for saying that sex is determined by chromosomes.
This week, First Liberty sent a letter to St. Philip’s College and the Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, Texas informing them of their unlawful actions against our client, Dr. Johnson Varkey. The college fired him for teaching basic and widely accepted concepts of biology.
First Liberty is, of course, asking the college to immediately reinstate Dr. Varkey to his position and clear his record of any wrongdoing.
According to the First Liberty website,
In his role as an adjunct professor, Dr. Varkey taught Human Anatomy and Physiology to more than 1,500 students since 2003. During Dr. Varkey’s 20-year employment as a biology professor at St. Philip’s College, he consistently received exemplary performance reviews and was never subject to discipline. Throughout that time, he never discussed with any student his personal views—religious or otherwise—on human gender or sexuality.
In November 2022, four of Dr. Varkey’s students walked out of his class when he stated, consistent with his study of human biology and religious beliefs, that sex was determined by chromosomes X and Y. In two decades of teaching these basic, unremarkable concepts, no other students complained.
In January of 2023, Dr. Varkey apparently received a notification from the university that he was fired because of numerous complaints about his “religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter” and that his teaching “pushed beyond the bounds of academic freedom with [his] personal opinions that were offensive to many individuals in the classroom.”
In other words, it appears he was fired for teaching true and widely accepted concepts.
First Liberty's position is that "the statements he made are supported by research and consistent with his professional experience and education."
Now, Dr. Varkey is a devout Christian. He is, in fact, even an associate pastor at his church in San Antonio. More than that, he actually hosts a radio ministry. (But finding links to that is difficult - every article about this guy lately is about the law suit, due to the popularity of this issue by a post from Fox News.)
Nonetheless, First Liberty says it is so in their article, so I expect there is no reason to doubt it.
But the law firm maintains this is not (or should not) be at issue here.
Like millions of religious Americans, Dr. Varkey has a sincerely held belief that God created humankind male and female. His faith teaches that one’s sex is ordained by God, that one should love and care for the body that God gave him or her, and that one should not attempt to erase or alter his or her sex, whether through drugs or surgical means. He also believes God ordained the sexual function for procreation, that children are a gift from God, and that, absent a compelling reason, one should not sterilize oneself.
Nonetheless, First Liberty maintains that Dr. Varkey’s termination violates several laws that protect Americans from being punished for holding or expressing their religious beliefs:
“When decisionmakers at St. Philip’s College terminated Dr. Varkey because of his religious beliefs and classroom statements about biology, they violated several federal and state laws, including the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
First Liberty says this is a clear case of firing over a scientist teaching science, but coming up against political correctness.
What St. Philip’s College did is wrong—and Dr. Varkey should get his job back. Public universities have no business firing professors for teaching actual science. It’s harmful to academic freedom. It’s also harmful to religious liberty, as the college is sending a message that people of faith are not welcome and need not apply.
A thought from Cogny Mann:
It's happening all over the world. The ones above are in the US. Canada has its share of "cancel culture" embedded in the law, too. And in places like England and Australia, it's even worse.
I recently wrote a commentary on an article about how wokeism will kill our culture if we don't kill it.
We must stand our ground on these issues. But we have to do it the right way.
Daniel did it the right way. Jimmy and Johnny, the "sons of thunder," wanted to do it the wrong way.
Jimmy and Johnny, the sons of thunder, thought they could get brownie points showing Jesus how clever they were by suggesting a rain of thunder and lightening to kill their enemies. But when they suggested that approach, Jesus said, "you don't know what spirit you are of." God's ways are not always our ways.
Daniel knew that God's ways are not always our ways.
Daniel did not see himself superior to the king and speak an attitude of judgment toward him. Daniel recognized that we all live under the remarkable grace of God. Daniel merely walked humbly in God’s grace, free of judgment, hoping instead for God’s mercy. Daniel told the king that the dream was showing him that he was a man of tremendous pride, that he should repent and let God be God…if God might perhaps relent of this punishment to come.
Daniel recognized that the "right way" to influence the culture was by being on his knees before God with a desire for God's compassion, praying for those in authority, looking for God to move in their hearts.
In the end, this is a spiritual battle. We must fight. But the real enemy can only be fought on our knees.