The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) has decided to re-invite Christian creationist Ken Ham to present his views at the institution, after he was dis-invited last week.
The decision has been celebrated by some on the campus as a step forward for 'free speech', according to KOKO News 5. Ham's perhaps surprising re-invitation stands out in UK and US student culture, where the 'no-platforming' of controversial speakers has become more common.
'Our shared value as a higher education institution is to encourage and engage in inquiry that is free from censorship,' a statement by UCO President Don Bentz said.
'Even though it's an unpopular opinion, we have to respect that that's his right to speak. This is a public University,' Mary LaSaxon told KOCO.
An atheist individual named Florence said: 'I kind of don't like him, but I think it's weird to be like "Oh you're a religious speaker, don't come back."'
Pastor Paul Blair of Fairvew Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, has supported Ham's visit to the university.
'We are thrilled that Ken is going to be allowed on campus, but I thought the press release quite revealing,' he said. 'Of all the influence on our founding fathers that could have been quoted, Dr Bentz chose to quote the French Atheist Voltaire. I think that really summarizes what we are battling on the college campuses.'
Ham is a prominent young-earth creationist, and the president of the creationist apologetics organisation Answers in Genesis, known for numerous publications as well as the recent and controversial Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. He rejects evolutionary accounts of human origins, insisting on a literal reading of the Genesis creation account that posits the earth to be 6,000 to 10,000 old, not 4.5 billion years old as the modern scientific consensus has it.