When I first read this story my jaw dropped on the floor and rolled around a while:
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.
Sounded an awful lot like the Georgia case, I wrote about earlier. My outrage button was pushed and heading into overdrive but when I read the Fox story there was a twist that I noticed that should not be ignored:
She was removed from the school’s counseling program last year because she refused to counsel homosexual clients.
This is a most important sentence, we would not allow a doctor to refuse to treat a homosexual man, I can’t see how this is different than an Islamic bus driver keeping a guide dog off the bus.
A counselor’s job is to give advice, there is nothing wrong with a counselor shaping and framing that advice based on their beliefs (we are all of us are shaped by our beliefs) but to refuse a patient based on said beliefs, particularly in a training program, that’s off.
In private practice a person can pick and choose patients, but during training that is a different matter altogether.
Let’s put it another way. Murder is a mortal sin, Adultery is a mortal sin, Theft is a Mortal sin, all are explicitly prohibited by the 10 commandments. Would Julea Ward refuse to treat a person who committed any of these sins as well?
Christianity explicitly teaches that homosexual acts are sinful (many protestant denominations consider homosexuality itself a sin). It is a serious sin, but it is not the only sin, when we pretend that it is we make a grave mistake, almost as large as the mistake that is made when one pretends it is not sinful at all. One can magnify the legitimate sins of others in order to ignore our own. This is a trap not of our political foes making but of our spiritual foes making and its eternal consequences are much more dangerous to us as individuals.
Christian belief is not based on the separation of one from sinners, we are all sinners, it is based on the separation of one from sin and the willingness of Christ to forgive sin when one repents.
So lets be clear on what the 1st Amendment does and what it doesn’t do:
• Julea Ward has a right to follow any religion she chooses, natural law AND the 1st Amendment guarantees this right.
• A public university has no business trying to force any student or employee to change any person’s religious (or political) belief, that is a totalitarian act contrary to the natural law and the 1st Amendment.
• Any such speech code or rule by a public university to restrict the free expression and/or practice of religious (or political) belief is unconstitutional on its face per the 1st Amendment.
• Any and all such public universities who attempt to enforce such codes to change any person’s religious (or political) belief violating 1st Amendment rights should be sued until they are so broke that they have to go back to slide rules.
• A public university CAN however require that a student follow the basic rules of a degree program. An Islamic student can’t refuse to study the anatomy of a dog or pig if they want a degree in Veterinary medicine. That is not a first amendment issue.
Julea Ward put herself in the wrong by refusing to counsel a homosexual student: From the ruling:
“In the case of Ms. Ward, the university determined that she would never change her behavior and would consistently refuse to counsel clients on matters with which she was personally opposed due to her religious beliefs – including homosexual relationships.”
In such a case the correct and honorable move for Miss Ward would be to tell the patient openly that she considers homosexual relationships wrong and that her advice would be informed by that belief. She could then give said patient the option to either continue with her or request a different counselor. This empowers and informs the patient without violating personal beliefs. If the patient wished to continue with her she could give advice based on actions that are harmful (lying, selfishness, deceit etc) in any type of interpersonal relationship.
And the university put itself in the wrong by trying to change her beliefs:
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.
By attempting to create a single mindset within said program the university harms itself by closing of it’s own mind and robs potential patients of the perspective and philosophy that can benefit them.
There is no question that the media culture and university culture is trying to promote and protect homosexuality (remember Dirkhising Christian & Newsom? Exactly!) and to attack Christianity as a rule. Let’s avoid helping them out in their endeavor.
Memeorandum thread here.
Update: I think we on the right are missing that key detail that makes this case different than the Keeton case. I would however concede that the Clinton appointed judge would have likely gone with the university even if she didn’t refuse the patient treatment.
Update 2: Outside the Beltway almost gets it.
This really isn’t complicated: You’re allowed to believe whatever you wish. Under the 1st Amendment, you’re allowed to say or write just about any damned fool thing you please without fear of sanction from your government. You’re also allowed wide berth in the practice of your religious beliefs.
But public institutions are allowed to set policies that conflict with some people’s religious beliefs, so long as they have a rational, secular basis for doing so. In this case, EMU did. It would be simply absurd to allow students to participate in a program designed to provide counseling credentials who would never be able to get licensure as a counselor.
This misses the point here, if a license is not allowed based on a religious belief that is a religious test and unconstitutional. If they decide a believing Catholic, Muslim or Protestant can’t be certified that is a de-facto religious test made by a public university based on beliefs also unconstitutional. It wasn’t the beliefs of Miss Ward that were the proper grounds, it was the INACTION in refusing to treat the patient that constituted the proper grounds for the University to act.
Update 3: The Anchoress zings in her own gentle way at the very end of this post
I guess my question is, if a gay counseling student expressed an inability to “embrace” religious people or their values also be subject to remediation? Are we drowning in irony, here?