Higher Education Standards and Professional Ethics Trump Personal Religious Beliefs

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Reddit0Share on Tumblr0Email this to someone

I delight in stories that hit all three primary topics of my blog!

Have you heard the tale of Julea Ward? She was working on her master’s in counseling at Eastern Michigan University. When she refused on religious grounds to affirm a client’s same-sex behavior (and thus counsel him at all), she was asked to leave the program.

Today, a federal judge dismissed her lawsuit against the university:

In an order granting summary judgment to the university on Monday, Judge George Caram Steeh of the U.S. District Court in Detroit held that the university’s requirement that the student be willing to serve people who are homosexual was reasonable, and did not amount to an infringement of the Christian student’s constitutional rights to free speech and free expression of religion.

The university “had a right and duty to enforce compliance” with professional ethics rules barring counselors from being intolerant or engaging in discrimination, and no reasonable person could conclude that a counseling program’s requirement that students comply with such rules “conveys a message endorsing or disapproving of religion,” Judge Steeh wrote.

This is an important victory for the LGBT community as well as the social sciences. It’s affirmation that our professional ethics are important and that we will not cater to those who think their religious beliefs are more important than a client’s health and well being.

The good ol’ Alliance Defense Fund, of course, is eager to disagree:

“Christian students shouldn’t be expelled for holding to and abiding by their beliefs,” said David French, a senior counsel for the group, which helped out in a similar lawsuit filed against Augusta State University, in Georgia, this month.

Maybe not, but any student who rejects the teaching and training of a curriculum does not deserve to graduate from it, religious beliefs be damned.

The Chronicle article outlines well the ways that Ward violated the professional ethics she was supposed to be learning:

To maintain accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, the program that Ms. Ward was in is required to familiarize its students with the ethics codes set forth by the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association. In refusing to affirm the homosexual behavior of clients, Ms. Ward was accused of violating various provisions of the groups’ ethics codes, including prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and an American Counseling Association rule holding that its members should not demonstrate “an inability to tolerate different points of view.”

The Alliance Defense Fund paints a rosier picture of Ward’s experiences, including a pity party that she had to face a faculty panel “alone, without family, friends, or legal support.” Welcome to the real world, dear.

The ruling said, “Her refusal to attempt learning to counsel all clients within their own value systems is a failure to complete an academic requirement of the program.”

Case closed. Personal religious beliefs don’t trump academic requirements nor professional standards.

Why do I suspect that Ward is now just going to go to Liberty and get a “counseling” degree there that has NARTH’s stamp of approval?

If you want a little more propaganda in your life, here’s an ADF video about Julea and the tough way she was treated. Have a tissue handy—the soft focus will irritate your eyes.

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Reddit0Share on Tumblr0Email this to someone
Back to Top | Scroll down for Comments!

There are 1 Comments to "Higher Education Standards and Professional Ethics Trump Personal Religious Beliefs"

  • jimstoic says:

    This is a great ruling. Some belief systems are incompatible with some professions. Would the Alliance Defense Fund defend a Christian Scientist who wanted a medical degree but refused to take the required courses? A Buddhist or Quaker who refused to fulfill the requirements of an engineering job designing weapons systems? A Mormon who refused to fulfill the requirements of a bartending job? A Jehovah’s Witness phlebotomist who wouldn’t draw blood to be used for transfusions? It doesn’t affect people’s freedom of religion to say “this job isn’t for you.”

Write a Comment