Dr. Johnson Varkey

Biology Professor Fired for Teaching Biology


First Liberty is defending Dr. Johnson Varkey. St. Philip’s College wrongfully fired him for teaching basic and widely accepted concepts of biology. We’re asking the college to immediately reinstate Dr. Varkey to his position and clear his record of any wrongdoing.

Wrongfully Terminated After Two Decades

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 chromosomes X and Y. 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.

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Alaska Quote Marks

“It is preposterous that St. Philips would fire Dr. Varkey for teaching basic biology. The college violated his rights and must reinstate him immediately.”

– First Liberty Counsel, Kayla Toney

Kayla Toney | First Liberty

Dr. Johnson Varkey | First Liberty Institute

Illegal and Wrong to Fire Someone Over Religious Beliefs

Like millions of Americans, Dr. Varkey has a sincerely held belief that God created humans male and female. His faith teaches that one’s sex is ordained by God and that one should not attempt to erase or alter his or her sex, whether through drugs or surgical means.

What St. Philip’s College did is wrong—and Dr. Varkey should get his job back. Our letter explains that Dr. Varkey’s termination violates the Constitution and laws that protect Americans from being punished for holding or expressing their religious beliefs.

What’s more, public universities have no business firing professors for teaching actual science. It’s harmful to academic freedom and to religious liberty, as the college is sending a message that people of faith are not welcome.

Join the Fight

Dr. Varkey is the latest example of an everyday American who lost his job to a woke and hostile culture infecting corporate America. He joins a long list of First Liberty clients—including Valerie Kloosterman, Lacey Smith, Robyn Strader and Fire Chief Ron Hittle—who lost their jobs.

Please give now and join First Liberty in the fight for religious freedom. Your support is essential in helping us defend—and win—for Dr. Varkey and Americans singled out for their faith at work.

*If contributions exceed the immediate needs of a specific project or case, First Liberty may redirect funds at its discretion to provide support for other religious liberty matters.

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