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Christian speaker’s event back on at UCO

EDMOND, Okla. – Following the cancellation of an event at the University of Central Oklahoma, it seems that a Christian speaker will return to campus after all.

Ken Ham, well-known president of Answers in Genesis, a ministry dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith, was slated to speak next month on the UCO campus.

However, the president of UCO’s student body says he was pressured to call off the event after a group spoke up about using student funds to pay for the speech.

“They didn’t know that their funds were paying for this speaker, who they see as homophobic – was able to come to this school without them knowing,” Lindsey Churchill, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Research Center and BGLTQ+ Student Center, told KFOR. “I think that’s the biggest issue.”

Now, it seems like the event is back on.

Following the cancellation, the university received some backlash from community leaders, alumni and state lawmakers.

On Thursday, Ham announced that his speech is back on after a conversation with university officials.

UCO President Don Betz says the change of plans comes after some questioned the university's commitment to supporting freedom of speech. Betz says there will be a series of events dedicated to promoting free speech.

University officials tell News 4 that Ham's speech will now be funded through unrestricted donations.

The event is scheduled for March 5, but the final details are still being worked out.

“It is important that our society and institutions of higher learning maintain tolerance and respect for diverse views. Unfortunately, in college campuses across America, free speech is not fully valued and all voices are not always heard on various issues. I support President Betz and the University of Central Oklahoma for providing an opportunity for the free debate of ideas in a place where it should be encouraged," said Sen. James Lankford.