Ben Carson prepared to withdraw as Johns Hopkins commencement speaker after student petition

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Johns Hopkins School of Medicine neurosurgeon Ben Carson said he is prepared to withdraw as a speaker at the prestigious school’s upcoming commencement ceremony, following a petition from faculty and students expressing concern about his recent comments on gay marriage, evolution and Obamacare.

“Absolutely,” Carson told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday, when asked whether he is prepared to withdraw as the commencement speaker. “I would say that this is their day, and the last thing I would want to do is rain on their parade.” (RELATED VIDEO: Watch more of Carson’s interview with Andrea Mitchell)

He added that while he has not discussed the matter with the school, he will be going through the “appropriate channels.”

On Friday, Hopkins’ Health and Human Rights Student Group posted the petition on its Facebook page, calling on fellow students to voice their concerns about Carson’s recent statements on gay marriage and his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. (RELATED VIDEO: Top neurosurgeon rips Obamacare to president’s face)

The HHR group’s introduction to the petition began by citing Carson’s March 25 attack on gay marriage during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson told Hannity. “It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society, and no group — be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are — they don’t get to change the definition.”

They further criticized Carson’s use of the National Prayer Breakfast speech, “which, like [Johns Hopkins’] commencement ceremony, is an historically nonpartisan event– to deride Obamacare, advocate lower taxes for the wealthy, and suggest that Christianity requires supporting Republican policies.”

“Dr. Carson has also used his platform as a famous neurosurgeon to promote the rejection of evolution,” the explanation  reads. “‘Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory,’ he said, in a statement that would apply to the majority of students and faculty at Johns Hopkins, ‘you dismiss ethics, you don’t have to abide by a set of moral codes, you determine your own conscience based on your own desires.’ This belief of Dr. Carson’s was unknown to many of us at the time of his nomination.”

The student group said it respects Carson’s work, but believes his views are “incongruous with the values of Johns Hopkins and deeply offensive to a large proportion our student body.”

“As a result, we believe he is an inappropriate choice of speaker at a ceremony intended to celebrate the achievements of our class,” the group concluded. “We hope the administration of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will select an alternative speaker that better represents the values of our student body and of our great University.”

In a statement to The Huffington Post, the school defended the choice of Carson as the commencement speaker.

“Dr. Carson is a distinguished Johns Hopkins surgeon and scientist chosen to speak at the School of Medicine diploma ceremony because of his extraordinary accomplishments as a neurosurgeon and his many contributions as an advocate for education and children. He was not asked to speak because of his personal political, religious or social views. His personal views are just that, his own. When he speaks about them, he is not speaking on behalf of Johns Hopkins.”

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