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How Creation Museum chief got new invite to off-limits campus

By Mike Stunson/Lexington Herald-Leader (TNS) • Feb 18, 2018 at 10:00 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. — After he was uninvited to speak at an Oklahoma university when LGBT supporters objected, the president and founder of Kentucky’s Creation Museum in Petersburg and the Ark Encounter in Williamstown will appear after all.

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, said Thursday morning he has been re-invited to speak at University of Central Oklahoma. The event will happen March 5, as originally planned before controversy ensued.

He said he is thrilled his talk, “Genesis and the State of Culture” is back on. Ham will share his perspectives about evolution, science and creationism.

“UCO officials have definitely heard from many concerned state legislators, several local residents and alumni about the denial of our right to free speech,” he said in a statement on his website. “Furthermore, by moving my talk from the evening to the afternoon, we now have the opportunity to reach even more UCO students during the school day. UCO is a commuter campus, and many of its students might not have been able to attend in the evening.”

Ham added that he is thankful for the Oklahomans who stood up for free speech and exercise of religion.

The university will also present sessions March 5 on the First Amendment and free speech, and a session on the process of scientific inquiry and evolution the following day, UCO President Don Petz told the campus Thursday.

In the statement to the campus body, UCO President Don Betz said the university is “historically committed to the critical confrontation of ideas and people conducted in a civil manner.”

“The misrepresentations about the social commitment of UCO to free inquiry has demonstrated that we are presented with the opportunity for a ‘teachable moment’ on the principles of civil discourse and the pursuit of knowledge,” Betz said.

Ham’s scheduled visit to the campus was rescinded last month by the campus’ Student Government Association.

Gay rights advocates objected to Ham’s stance against gay marriage, leading the Student Association President Stockton Duvall to say he was bullied enough to withdraw the initial invitation.

“I am not the first person to be personally attacked by a very vocal group on campus that has little tolerance for opposing viewpoints,” Duvall said in a written statement, referring to some Ham opponents.

A leader from a campus lesbian, gay and transgender group told the Oklahoman its members were not participants in the talks over Ham being disinvited. “We reject bullying and intimidation in all of its forms,” said Rachel Watson, president of the Student Alliance for Equality. The group “will always be fully committed to upholding and safeguarding free speech” and others’ rights to express opinions.

In his blog, Ham noted that his opponents were able to shut down his visit despite the school sponsoring and funding a drag queen show. He also said a professor who opposed his visit also sponsored a safe sex carnival, which Ham said included “learning games.”

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