image U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh decided on Wednesday that Eastern Michigan University was within their rights to expel graduate students, like Julea Ward, who was until recently attending grad school their to earn a masters degree in counseling.  She believed that homosexuality is immoral, which didn’t sit well with her professors.  Fox News reports:

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a public university that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling over her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. Monday’s ruling, according to Julea Ward’s attorneys, could result in Christian students across the country being expelled from public university for similar views.

Well it is happening again, this time at Augusta State University, so I think her attorney’s from the Alliance Defense Fund are spot on with this potentially being a growing trend.  We also recently saw an Instructor of Catholicism at the University of Illinois get canned because he taught the church’s position on homosexuality.

I expect this garbage to be coming from universities which are now bastions of everything liberal and politically correct, but for a judge to uphold this nonsense is unconstitutional.  You know, the First Amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Also last time I checked religion is also protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1968, has that changed?  This is a state school, I could see the argument made with a private school, but this isn’t the case.  She didn’t want to counsel homosexual clients, mainly because they wanted her to endorse homosexual relationships.

Ward’s attorneys claim the university told her she would only be allowed to remain in the program if she went through a “remediation” program so that she could “see the error of her ways” and change her belief system about homosexuality.

What is happening in Georgia is similar:

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit against Augusta State University Wednesday on behalf of a counseling student told that her Christian beliefs are unethical and incompatible with the prevailing views of the counseling profession. The student, Jennifer Keeton, has been told to stop sharing her beliefs with others and that she must change her beliefs in order to graduate from the counseling program.

Not only have these schools prohibited the free exercise of religion, but by telling these students they can stay if they believe differently is establishing a religious doctrine.  I’m sure they don’t see it that way, but we all have religious beliefs.  Nobody lives in a moral and religious vacuum.

So these students believe homosexuality is immoral, so what?  Aren’t there other counselors they could go to?  It’s similar to punishing pharmacists who won’t distribute the “morning after pill” because they oppose abortion, or Catholic pharmacists who oppose distributing birth control pills because of what the Catholic Church teaches in the matter.  It’s ridiculous because the majority of pharmacists will.

Pharmacists and counseling students should have freedom of conscience and the Bill of Rights, as well as, federal law protects that inalienable right.  But this federal judge thinks he can deny that right.  Not only is it a Constitutional right which has been further protected in the U.S. Code, but there is judicial precedent protecting students’ constitutional rights.  In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community Schools case, the Supreme Court ruled that students “don’t shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.”  I suspect that Julea Ward or Jennifer Keeton didn’t think that would be a requirement when the applied to their schools.

I’m sure is not the first of these types of decisions, but they must be resisted.  Judge Steenh is a disgrace to his profession, and his decision is unconstitutional.  He should resign, he violated his oath.  I’m glad that the ADF is  appealing this ruling, and I suspect he will be rebuked.  I would recommend that the Michigan and Georgia State Legislatures defund these counseling departments.  I would also call on Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to intervene as well (not going to hold my breath on Granholm acting).

Freedom of religion is a God-given right that public universities have no business violating.

Update 8/1/10: Tom Gilson on Evangel had a great post last Tuesday – “Freedom of Religion?  No, Freedom of Sexuality.”

26 comments
  1. “She believed that homosexuality is immoral, which didn’t sit well with her professors.”
    “She didn’t want to counsel homosexual clients, mainly because they wanted her to endorse homosexual relationships.”
    “Not only is it a Constitutional right which has been further protected in the U.S. Code, but there is judicial precedent protecting students’ constitutional rights.”

    Uh, no, that’s BS. The school didn’t have a problem with her religious beliefs, they had a problem with her refusing to do her assigned work – which everyone, including you, admits that she refused to do. There is no constitutional right to graduate school after refusing to do the associated work. The right to freedom of religion only means you have the right to believe what you want, it doesn’t confer on you the special right to force everyone to confer undeserved honors upon you after you refuse to do your part. Both of the women discussed have refused to abide by the standards of the profession that they freely chose to attempt to enter into. They created their own problems.

    And your “freedom of conscience” proposal is BS too. If you implement that, members of the Christian Science church would be allowed to go to a university and demand a doctorate of medicine without learning anything about medicine – because it’s against their religion – and then go to a hospital and demand a salary as a doctor while refusing to treat any patients – again, because it’s against their religion. And that would be only the beginning of the nonsense we’d see.

    1. Calling my argument BS isn’t an argument. Your example of Christian Scientists is nonsensical you obviously have to practice medicine in order to be a doctor. You can be a counselor and not recognize the legitimacy of homosexual relationships and view it as immoral.

      1. Sure. Or you could be a racist and refuse to counsel black, Hispanic, Chinese, and Japanese students. And your racism would be freedom of speech too, right? I mean, why shouldn’t a counselor be able to choose to only counsel white students, particularly if he or she felt the other races were unclean? I can see why you’re upset by this outrageous act of “political correctness.”

      2. So it would be okay if she said she that she doesn’t want to counsel people because of the way they dress too? Or because of the music they listen to? Haircuts? Addictions? Religion? Height? Weight? Because she thinks it’s immoral? Counseling is an occupation that has no room for discrimination of ANY kind, whether it’s because of behaviour, appearance, “lifestyle” or religion. Deal with it.

      3. Whether or not you are in agreement with this woman’s views on homosexuality is inconsequential. The larger issue is that an organization (the University) has imposed itself upon the CONSCIENCE of an individual. Every citizen in this country has a right to express their religious beliefs and exercise their conscience without any repercussion or penalty. No government, no University, no organization, not here or anywhere else, has a right to stomp on this civil liberty. This is anti American. It is anti Democratic. Any American who values freedom should be concerned over what has happened here. One day you might find yourself subscribing to a view that the government does not. “BS” and “deal with it” are inappropriate and thoughtless responses the life and death issues at stake here which are liberty and freedom.

      4. How about “stuff it” Christina.

        You and Shane really are pathetic. People like you babble about how stopping other people getting married protects your own failed marriages and you keep repeating it as if it makes sense.

      5. “Stuff it”?

        Nice.

        If you want to be taken seriously I highly recommend you come to the table with a more thoughtful response. Clearly you show your inability to engage in thoughtful civil discussion when you respond in such a manner.

      6. You want to preserve the right of people to dislike others but think people should not be able to choose a spouse?

        Sick.

      7. What I find most disappointing about your response is not that you disagree with me but that you are incapable of having a debate without resorting to name calling or insult.

        What I expressed in my comment on this blog is that no organization has the right to impose itself on the conscience of an individual. Every American citizen has the right to express their views with no fear of repercussion. You have yet to respond to the premise of my argument.

        Perhaps there are others who agree with you (and disagree with me) but are more capable of expressing themselves in a mature and dignified manner. If you know any, please send them.

      8. A counselor’s job is to help the patient in achieving the patient’s personal goals. A counselor can not introduce his or her own personal views. These are professional standards. Christians, it seems, now want some sort of special dispensation, so that they can discriminate at will. This is not a counselor’s role.

        A boy comes into your office and is suicidal because of a breakup with his boyfriend: are you then going to start lecturing him on the morality of his relationship? Tell him to wait another two weeks so that he can make an appointment with someone you’re going to refer him to? This is unprofessional.

        Hey, you guys should also be standing up for all those poor gay Catholic boys who are dismissed from seminaries because they are gay. And of course gay counselors should be invited to speak to their clients about the glories of gay relationships: that’s the kind of thing that more of those repressed evangelical types need. They need to hear from their counselors what bigots they are. And I’m sure you’ll stand up for rights of free speech in denoucing bigotry, right?

      9. Shane, it’s quite convenient that you failed to respond to the rest of Mr. Farrell’s arguments – most likely because you have no logical reply.

        The example of Christian Science is not nonsensical. Indeed, it follows the logic of your argument precisely. If you wish to label something “nonsensical” please provide a logical argument, not rhetoric.

        Of course you can be a counselor and decide to be prejudiced against one group or another. However, the University is fully within it rights to expel a student that will not do the assigned assignments, or for expelling a candidate from a degree program who will not be able to meet the requirements of the sanctioning board for that profession. If she doesn’t want to follow the rules of these institutions, she fully has the right to find another institution (probably with a far poorer reputation) in which she can excel. But, she cannot force a profession to adopt (sub)standards because it’s part of her belief system.

        You seem to confuse the right to believe with the right to force that belief on others. No one has stifled Ms. Ward’s right to believe, but merely her right to impose that on others. As you are so fond of saying, Gays can still marry, just not another person of the same sex. In this case, Ms. Ward can believe anything she wants, but she cannot force other people (or institutions) to follow her beliefs. Her “free exercise” is her right to pray and congregate with others. However, it does not give her the right to impose her views on others, or refuse to follow rules of organizations she has freely chosen to ally herself. The school is not stopping Ms. Ward from believing, but merely keeping its own standards.

        You clearly don’t understand the 1st amendment either. There is nothing saying that Ms. Ward cannot express her beliefs, but there are consequences for doing so. Free speech does only guarantees that you can say something, not that there will not be consequences – this explains the separate laws on whistleblower protections.

        Despite your (clearly uniformed) assertions, there is not constitutionally protected “freedom of conscience”. Indeed, it’s not mentioned at all. You make stuff up and then get upset that people violate your fantasy-filled “laws”. Please actually learn something about the constitution and join us in the real world.

        Finally, I have been a born-again Christian for longer than you’ve been alive. Unfortunately, you hate-filled, venomous writings show that you clearly have not communed with Jesus, nor understood his teachings. I suspect that you get your interpretation of the Bible from people no more qualified than those you get your interpretations of the Constitution. Please actually read your Bible, understand it from the Greek, and why each book was written. Each Gospel is written for a different reason, that is why they can be contradictory and yet still teach a consistent lesson. Please pray and commune with Jesus and abandon this anger that is clearly removing you from His love.

      10. Jesus always refers to a husband and a wife, male and female, when he speaks about marriage, never two men or two women.
        Matthew 19:4″ “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,'[a] 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'[b]? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
        αρσεν arsén=male, θῆλυς thélus=female

      11. You can not be a counselor and recognize the legitamacy of homosexual relationships. There is no scientific basis for this, and a counselor can not preach his/her own values.

      12. From the post at Evangel that I linked to in the update above – http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2010/07/freedom-of-religion-no-freedom-of-sexuality/

        As Mark Yarhouse at Limning the Psyche notes, values conflicts are inevitable in counseling:

        “A politically liberal counselor will meet with a client with strong conservative views; a gay counselor will meet with an Evangelical Christian client; a Catholic counselor will meet with a woman deciding on abortion; an atheist will meet with a devout Muslim.”

        Typically in the case of such a conflict, a counselor will refer the client to another practitioner. Julea Ward had done that, but it was insufficient:

        ” The school dismissed Julea Ward from the program because she would not agree prior to a counseling session to affirm a client’s homosexual behavior and would not retract her stance in subsequent disciplinary proceedings.”

        You are pushing established counseling professional standards, you are pushing an agenda.

        Your reply to Amanda S was over the top, and was deleted. You make anymore comments like it and you’ll be banned. If you want to make disgusting comments like that do it on your own blog.

      13. It’s too bad he/she chose to communicate in that way. I really wanted to hear a response to what Jesus says about marriage and have a discussion.

    2. This is what the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science wrote, in her book, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, with regard to a student of C.S. taking a medical course:

      When the discoverer of Christian Science is con-
      sulted by her followers as to the propriety, advan-
      3 tage, and consistency of systematic medical Study of
      study, she tries to show them that under ordi- medicine
      nary circumstances a resort to faith in corporeal means
      6 tends to deter those, who make such a compromise, from
      entire confidence in omnipotent Mind as really possessing
      all power. While a course of medical study is at times
      9 severely condemned by some Scientists, she feels, as she
      always has felt, that all are privileged to work out their
      own salvation according to their light, and that our motto
      12 should be the Master’s counsel, “Judge not, that ye be
      not judged.”

      Christian Scientists are free to think for themselves and they have the ethics to fulfill the obligations of any employment they accept.

  2. Christina, as is always the case, you are unable to articulate why your personal failures are the fault of gay people.

    Respect from someone like you or Shane is not a goal.

    1. I have no idea what you are talking about here. This has nothing to do with the issues that are being raised.

      With all due respect, the one who has failed to articulate is you.

  3. The schools are absolutely wrong, in their positions that they have the right to”mandate” the moral, & ethical beliefs, of students, as a condition of enrolement. This is just another example, of this mindless, “political correctness”. that is currently in vogue, running amouk. Indeed, should these ladies graduate, & become profession counselers, I would think, that, in a free market, that there are those persons, who might, actually, seek out these ladies, “because” of their views,..& then, those who might disagree with these lady’s views, would be free to seek counseling elsewhere,.The attitude of the schools makes a mockery of the whole idea, of what a university should be about, which is, after all, the FREE exchange of ideas,..& not the, mindless, inforcement of “cooky cutter” conformity, that these schools are trying to impose,..

  4. Its called “professionalism”: religion does not trump science. Otherwise we’d license Christian Scientist doctors who refused to perform medical procedures because “its against their religion”.

    Is the poor girl going to refuse to see divorced people? girls who are considering an abortion? promiscuous people? How is she going to deal with these issues without being judgemental? Post a plaque on her door, “Only he who is without sin may enter this office! Unless you want to talk about how Jesus can help you out!”

  5. this just goes to show what happens when the agenda of 1-2% of the population is given sway over the other 99%. No matter what blog or post you go to, the Christian is always met with insult an name calling from particularly the atheist or the homosexual people. Both are signs of the reprobate mind according to Romans 1, which is a judgement from God. why should we expect any differant from these people, dont waste time with them, we are instructed that a heretic after the first or second admontion to reject, which is the case here. you will not change their mind through debate, neither will they change ours, but we at least have a standard, only God can change the heart or way of thinking, our lot is simply to proclaim the truth, and suffer the persecution for it, as we have for milenia.

  6. Standard procedure for the counseling profession is to simply refer clients out that you feel would be better served being counseled by someone else. So if someone comes to you with a marital / family issue that you aren’t comfortable, capable, or proficient in, you simply refer them out. This happens every day in the counseling profession. For example, the career pre-marital counselor is presented with a case of domestic violence. Sending that couple to someone who deals with domestic violence is not an indictment of the career pre-marital counselor, but rather an admission of inadequacy, which leads to better service for the clients.

    This is similar to a judge recusing himself / herself from a trial because he / she feels they cannot adequately rule objectively. That judge would not in turn be removed from the bench. They would explain why they cannot be objective, and move on to the next case.

    Every person has their own perspective on pretty much everything. It is a good thing to recognize your own perspective, and for the sake of the client, refer them to someone who can adequately counsel them.

    I think it is utterly reprehensible to expel a student for doing what is standard procedure according to the National Counseling Standards.

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