Christian speaker invited back to UCO following controversy

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OKLAHOMA CITY – University of Central Oklahoma introduced Ken Ham on campus Monday afternoon.

Ham, president of ‘Answers in Genesis,’ was scheduled to speak last month, but word of the speech sparked controversy across campus.

“Why shut us down?” Ham said. “Why try to censor us from even speaking?”

Ham said he appreciates getting another chance to discuss his biblical beliefs in the creation of the world with students and staff.

“I want to really challenge them that it’s important to make sure that you’ve got the right foundation in regard to understanding who you are, where you came from,” Ham said.

When word got out Ham was going to speak on campus, his invitation was later rejected.

“That was rescinded due to apparently some pressure from some people within the Women’s Research Center, the LGBT group that put some pressure on the president of the student association,” Ham said. “He even used the term bullying.”

Some UCO students said Ham’s thoughts on same-sex marriage are wrong.

“I just think they shouldn’t have asked him to come because nobody wants that type of negativity,” said student Kennedy Jackson.

Jackson said Ham’s speech is divisive.

“He’s not for same-sex marriage,” Jackson said. “If you’re not for it, just keep it to yourself. He can come here and talk about anything he wants, just keep that stuff to himself.”

Not all students share Jackson’s viewpoints about Ham’s appearance.

“At college, we’re here to expand our learning and everything like that so, if we didn’t hear both sides, what’s the point of being here?” said Joseph Stonehocker.

After the backlash from his canceled appearance, Ham said the university president invited him back.

“It’s a win for freedom of speech,” Ham said. “It’s a win for the First Amendment.”

It’s a win students tell us they can agree with.

“If we didn’t have other viewpoints, then we wouldn’t have a good college,” Stonehocker said.

Ham said he just hopes the disagreement can turn in productive conversations.

“They think, because we disagree with them, that we hate them, and that’s simply not true,” Ham said.

Ham’s invitation was part of a two-day forum at UCO called ‘The Freedom of Expression.’

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