Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Court knocks down latest religious right cause celebre

A religious right cause celebre has been knocked down by federal courts on Monday:

A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit brought against Eastern Michigan University by a master's student who said she was removed from the school's counseling program because of her strong religious views against homosexuality.

As part of her course work, Ward had refused to counsel homosexual clients, saying she believed homosexuality was morally wrong.

The university removed Ward from the counseling program after determining her actions violated university policy and the American Counseling Association (ACA) code of ethics.

Julea Ward sued the university in 2009, alleging violation of her First Amendment and religious rights.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh ruled in favor of the university and granted it summary judgment.

"The university had a rational basis for adopting the ACA Code of Ethics into its counseling program, not the least of which was the desire to offer an accredited program," Steeh said in a 48-page opinion.

"Furthermore, the university had a rational basis for requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values.

"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."

The judge said Ward's "refusal to attempt learning to counsel all clients within their own value systems is a failure to complete an academic requirement of the program."

Ward had been touted as the lastest "victim" of the so-called homosexual agenda by members of the religious right, including your friend and mine, Peter LaBarbera.

My feeling is that if you can't do the job completely and for everyone then we have a serious problem, especially if you are seeking to be a healthcare worker.

Let's hope that the court's ruling is the last we hear of this nonsense.

Hat tip to Ray Whiting, one of my new online buddies.

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Karen said...

This is good news, but somehow I doubt it is the last we will hear of it. Being "unfairly treated" by the courts as well as the university has the potential for even better publicity than a trial. She can make the rounds of talk shows and there will be no one there to challenge her statements and refute her position.

AnnW said...

I hope that the courts in Augusta, GA rule the same way in a similar suit.

Buffy said...

Ironic. Whenever we ask for the exact same rights they have we're accused of demanding "special rights". They actually demand special rights, in that they want to be allowed to ignore rules, regulations and laws everybody else must obey just by citing their "faith"--which changes on a whim.

Mykelb said...

If this woman only wants to counsel those who have the same religious beliefs, then she needs to join a nunnery, not the ranks of scientists.

Anonymous said...

Let's see if this extends to the pharmacists who refuse to fill Rx's for birth control because of their "religious beliefs." In small towns this is as dangerous as any action.