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Members of Congress Say Texas College Wrongfully Fired Biology Professor

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December 29, 2023
Ted Cruz Chip Roy | First Liberty Insider

by Jorge Gomez • 4 min read

Members of Congress are demanding answers from St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas after it unlawfully fired First Liberty’s client, Dr. Johnson Varkey, for teaching basic biology.

In a recent letter sent to the school, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Chip Roy—along with three more Representatives from the state’s congressional delegation—said the school appears to be “violating federal and state civil rights laws by rashly and wrongfully terminating employees based on unsubstantiated allegations.”

As an adjunct professor, Dr. Varkey taught Human Anatomy and Physiology to more than 1,500 students since 2004. He consistently received exemplary performance reviews and was never subject to discipline in his two-decade career. He never discussed with any student his personal views—religious or otherwise—on human gender or sexuality.

In November 2022, four students walked out of Dr. Varkey’s class when he stated, consistent with his study of human biology and religious beliefs, that sex was determined by X and Y chromosomes. In two decades of teaching these basic, unremarkable concepts, no other students complained.

The college fired him in January 2023. It sent Dr. Varkey a termination letter saying the school “received numerous complaints” about his “offensive” and “unacceptable religious preaching” in the classroom.

We stepped in to defend Dr. Varkey this summer. Our legal team wrote to St. Philip’s College, making it clear that what it did is wrong, illegal and that Dr. Varkey should get his job back. First Liberty also filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the next step toward suing the College in federal court.

This doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident at one college. According to the letter, “recent history reveals a pattern of targeting and penalizing educators who refuse to capitulate to the prevailing progressive narrative.”

“Dedicated professors often find themselves in the crosshairs merely because their sincerely-held religious convictions happen to align with the substance of their teaching,” the Members of Congress added.

Dr. Varkey is the latest example of an everyday American who lost his job to a toxic cancel culture that’s infecting employers across the country. He joins a long list of First Liberty clients who lost their jobs— including Valerie Kloosterman, Lacey Smith, Robyn Strader and Fire Chief Ron Hittle.

From the boardroom to the break room, this hostile corporate culture and anti-religious bias are a serious threat to religious freedom. This reduces good people to second-class status, which is outrageous, wrong and makes a mockery of laws that protect religious Americans from discrimination.

Will you consider supporting First Liberty to help defend Dr. Varkey and the many everyday Americans facing career-ending threats?

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