Tom Usher wrote or added |"In a 48-page decision Monday, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed Ward's lawsuit, saying essentially that Ward was treated poorly but not censored.
"'The university had a rational basis for requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values,' Steeh wrote in his opinion. '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.'"
This article is too vague for my tastes. In order to be properly informed, one would need to know the relationships between and among "treated poorly," "censored," and "requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values" as put forth by the judge. We are left with insufficient information regarding the supposed core points of the judge.
The issue of homosexuality is always a personal ... value. If a counselor in training agrees with the position that affirming homosexual relations is a good thing for the client, then that's still a personal value. There's no objectivity in the course material requiring a student to affirm homosexuality. It's completely arbitrary.
If the idea here is to refuse counseling degrees to all those who do not believe that homosexuality is immutable or always harmless or sanctioned by one's particular religion (in this case Christianity), then it appears time for a two-track program in the major universities — one for those who believe homosexuality is immutable and harmless and one for those who believe it is mutable and harmful (at least, among other instances, for those who desire to be rid of same-sex attraction or to reduce the "symptoms" as it were).
This is a legal and political decision. The US Constitution is not silent on Religion. The free-exercise clause was put there for what the vast majority of citizens who pushed for the Bill of Rights at the time felt were very good reasons. Much evil has been done in the name of "established" religions. The major universities in question here are tax-payer supported. For such institutions to force students to affirm homosexuality or be penalized goes directly against the whole point of the free-exercise clause. The judges in these cases are poor. It would have been an easy matter for the judges to say that the federal Constitution guarantees that the students in question may hold and hold forth with their religious views on the subject of homosexuality and to refuse to affirm the behavior in or out of class without being subjected to discrimination on account of the religious belief or persecution for same, which planned "remediation" certainly constitutes both discrimination and persecution. Who needs "a 48-page decision" to say that? No wonder the justice system is bogged down.
There are instances where religious free-exercise begins to do more harm than good. If the religious view is to stone all homosexuals to death, there's a place where the homosexuals' very existence in the flesh must be weighed against the call of the particular religion. No matter what, the Christian religion is opposed to all stoning regardless.
The hair here though may be continued being split. The argument in "psychology" and "psychiatry" comes down to lesser of evils or greater harm, individually and societally, and even benefit to the same. One side says the greater good across-the-board lies in affirming homosexuality. The others says that the good lies in people not engaging in homosexuality in feeling, thought, word, or deed. There are of course variations on these opposite positions. Some counselors simply will help the patient with what the patient wants to accomplish and will not take a stand concerning the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, per se.
Regardless, it is a sorry state of affairs when the secular state can't see its way clear to uphold its ostensible highest law, the US Constitution in this case, that includes the Bill of Rights, which guarantees that the government will not establish a religion but will also not bar the free exercise of religion. The bad decisions by these two judges does bar that free exercise and does establish an enforced anti-Christian dogma, which itself is tantamount to a religion — the religion of that state — established. Religion doesn't have to be theistic. Many Buddhists are atheistic, yet Buddhism is certainly a religion. A state could establish it as the official religion of the state. Consider that Tibet used to be such a state until the Communist Chinese under Mao moved in and took over and established a new "religion" of sorts.
Terms, people, organizations, etc.:
Augusta State University
Eastern Michigan University
Alliance Defense Fund
David French, attorney
U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh
Mike Brown, a discrimination and employment lawyer in Augusta, Georgia