Court rules in favor of expelled Christian counseling student

An appeals court ruled in favor of that graduate student who was expelled from her program in counseling because she could not approve of homosexuality due to her Christian beliefs.

A counseling student who declined to advise a gay client might have been expelled from her university because of her faith, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday (Jan. 27).

Citing her evangelical Christian religion, Julea Ward disagreed with professors at Eastern Michigan University who told her she was required to support the sexual orientation of her clients. When the graduate student was assigned a client who sought counseling on a same-sex relationship, she asked to have the client referred to another counselor.

Ward was then expelled from the school.A lower court sided with the university, but Ward appealed, saying the school had violated her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.On Friday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Ward could have a valid claim, and sent the case back to a district court for another hearing.

“A reasonablreasonable jury could conclude that Ward’s professors ejected her from the counseling program because of hostility toward her speech and faith, not due to a policy against referrals,” the appeals court ruled.

via Court says student’s faith may have led to expulsion – The Washington Post.

What this means is that the student can now sue the university, her prior suit having been thrown out of court.

The court’s ruling makes for some interesting reading.  The school argued that Ward’s request for the gay patient to be referred to someone else violated the profession’s code of ethics.  But the court noted that the code actually calls for counselors to refer patients to others when personal considerations arise.  When Ward asked for the referral, she was specifically avoiding imposing her beliefs on the patient.  The school’s own stated reasons for expelling the student are thus exploded.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Saul Alinsky: “#4. Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith observes: “But the court noted that the code actually calls for counselors to refer patients to others when personal considerations arise. When Ward asked for the referral, she was specifically avoiding imposing her beliefs on the patient. The school’s own stated reasons for expelling the student are thus exploded.

    Heh, heh.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Saul Alinsky: “#4. Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith observes: “But the court noted that the code actually calls for counselors to refer patients to others when personal considerations arise. When Ward asked for the referral, she was specifically avoiding imposing her beliefs on the patient. The school’s own stated reasons for expelling the student are thus exploded.

    Heh, heh.

  • John

    I found the ruling interesting, cogent, and logically consistent. Lots to think about.

  • John

    I found the ruling interesting, cogent, and logically consistent. Lots to think about.

  • CRB

    This is a great victory for freedom of religion. However, as we all know, the promoters of the acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism will not give up their fight.

    Sadly, that shows the hardness of heart that is increasingly evident in some individuals. It is truly sad that they refuse to repent and believe the gospel.

  • CRB

    This is a great victory for freedom of religion. However, as we all know, the promoters of the acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism will not give up their fight.

    Sadly, that shows the hardness of heart that is increasingly evident in some individuals. It is truly sad that they refuse to repent and believe the gospel.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    A great victory in an ever apostate time.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    A great victory in an ever apostate time.

  • DonS

    Thank goodness for a cogent court. This is why I am most concerned about four more years of Obama, with an increasing number of his judicial nominees populating the courts, given his hostility toward religious freedom.

    We see this quite often — institutions of higher learning claiming in court that they aren’t discriminating, merely applying an existing policy in an evenhanded way. Then, we find that the “policy” was made up to justify blatant discrimination because the student surprisingly decided to fight back. The University of California — Hastings ruling last year is in the same category. The university claimed that they were justified in excluding the Christian Legal Society from campus because of its “discriminatory” policy in requiring leaders to actually profess and practice Christianity, in violation of the university’s supposed non-discrimination policy, when in fact there is overwhelming evidence that the University does not enforce that alleged policy in any kind of evenhanded or consistent way.

  • DonS

    Thank goodness for a cogent court. This is why I am most concerned about four more years of Obama, with an increasing number of his judicial nominees populating the courts, given his hostility toward religious freedom.

    We see this quite often — institutions of higher learning claiming in court that they aren’t discriminating, merely applying an existing policy in an evenhanded way. Then, we find that the “policy” was made up to justify blatant discrimination because the student surprisingly decided to fight back. The University of California — Hastings ruling last year is in the same category. The university claimed that they were justified in excluding the Christian Legal Society from campus because of its “discriminatory” policy in requiring leaders to actually profess and practice Christianity, in violation of the university’s supposed non-discrimination policy, when in fact there is overwhelming evidence that the University does not enforce that alleged policy in any kind of evenhanded or consistent way.

  • Grace

    “Citing her evangelical Christian religion, Julea Ward disagreed with professors at Eastern Michigan University who told her she was required to support the sexual orientation of her clients. When the graduate student was assigned a client who sought counseling on a same-sex relationship, she asked to have the client referred to another counselor.”

    Julea Ward had every right to ask that the student be referred to another counselor.

    Ms. Ward’s First Amendment rights, freedom of speech and free exercise of religion, were violated. If she chooses to sue the university, I hope she wins. This will send a strong message to liberal universities, and others who demand, that we as Christian Believers acquiesce to their rules, which in this case violates First Amendment rights.

    When did a universities rights trump First Amendment rights?

  • Grace

    “Citing her evangelical Christian religion, Julea Ward disagreed with professors at Eastern Michigan University who told her she was required to support the sexual orientation of her clients. When the graduate student was assigned a client who sought counseling on a same-sex relationship, she asked to have the client referred to another counselor.”

    Julea Ward had every right to ask that the student be referred to another counselor.

    Ms. Ward’s First Amendment rights, freedom of speech and free exercise of religion, were violated. If she chooses to sue the university, I hope she wins. This will send a strong message to liberal universities, and others who demand, that we as Christian Believers acquiesce to their rules, which in this case violates First Amendment rights.

    When did a universities rights trump First Amendment rights?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The school argued that Ward’s request for the gay patient to be referred to someone else violated the profession’s code of ethics. But the court noted that the code actually calls for counselors to refer patients to others when personal considerations arise. When Ward asked for the referral, she was specifically avoiding imposing her beliefs on the patient. The school’s own stated reasons for expelling the student are thus exploded.

    This is in line with Canadian practice, where doctors can refer patients for procedures etc that violate their own belief system.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The school argued that Ward’s request for the gay patient to be referred to someone else violated the profession’s code of ethics. But the court noted that the code actually calls for counselors to refer patients to others when personal considerations arise. When Ward asked for the referral, she was specifically avoiding imposing her beliefs on the patient. The school’s own stated reasons for expelling the student are thus exploded.

    This is in line with Canadian practice, where doctors can refer patients for procedures etc that violate their own belief system.


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