Religious liberty groups are mobilizing to defend the chaplain of George Washington University’s Newman Center after gay students launched an effort to have the priest fired because he preaches against homosexuality and abortion.
“It’s discrimination against Catholics,” said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society. “Secular colleges are fast becoming a very unsafe place for Catholics who hold true to their faith. This is a very, very sad situation.”
Two gay students at George Washington told the GW Hatchet student newspaper that they want Father Greg Shaffer removed from campus over his anti-gay and anti-abortion views.
Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen said they want the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion to investigate the priest and they are calling for the student government association to defund the Newman Center.
They were particularly offended by a blog post the priest wrote calling gay relationships “unnatural and immoral,” the newspaper reported.
“To have my faith leader view me that way, just because of one piece of the way that God made me , and to think that one part is responsible for the destruction of my human dignity, it just didn’t, I can’t even begin to describe the mental conflict that it creates,” Legacy told the newspaper.
The two students also cited academic studies that linked the inability to sleep and loss of appetite with being around homophobic behavior.
A GWU spokesperson disputed reports that an investigation had already been launched. They said they have yet to receive any complaint.
The university released a statement noting that it “strives to embody the spirit of mutual respect and reasoned debate that is essential to our academic mission.”
They declined to answer specific questions about the controversy or the status of Father Shaffer only to say that he is not an employee of the university.
“We are therefore committed to ensuring that all members of our community are free to express their religious beliefs while honoring the right of others to express theirs,” the statement read.
Reilly told Fox News that he found the incident “absolutely disturbing.”
“Chastity outside of marriage has been the Catholic church teaching for more than 2,000 years,” he said. “The only discrimination occurring there is trying to silence a priest for trying to teach the Catholic faith.”
Peter Sprigg, of the Family Research Council told Fox News that while the incident is extremely shocking, it should come as no surprise.