AFA Michigan.org. American Family Association of Michigan  
Home
About AFA Michigan
Media Center
Links
Contact AFA Michigan
Support AFA Michigan
AFAMI News

Search


DETROIT FREE PRESS — Schuette: EMU's student's religious beliefs against homosexuality violated

March 20, 2011

Please e-mail Attorney General Bill Schuette and thank him for his stand against discriminatory “sexual orientation” policies by which Michigan universities persecute and violate the civil and religious free speech rights of Christian students.

E-mail the Attorney General: miag@michigan.gov

_____________________________________________

“Eastern Michigan University discriminated against former student Julea Ward when it dismissed her from its counseling program after she said her Christian beliefs prohibited her from counseling a gay client, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a court filing. …Ward sued the university after it dismissed her from its graduate counseling program in 2009 after she refused to work on a gay client’s relationship issues in a clinical program. She said she believes homosexuality is immoral and being gay or lesbian is a choice and thus she could not in good conscience counsel the client.

…’There is a striking difference between EMU’s written standards and EMU’s application of those rules to Julea Ward,’ the brief by Schuette’s office said. ‘Indeed, the evidence suggests that Ward was punished and ultimately dismissed from the program solely for her attempt to exercise disfavored religious beliefs, not for a violation of the code. The attorney general’s brief, filed Friday, also suggests political correctness was at work, suggesting ‘that EMU ‘weeded out’ Ward solely because of her religious views to ensure that only candidates with the ‘right’ beliefs are admitted to the counseling profession.'”

——————————————————————————————-

DETROIT FREE PRESS
Detroit, Michigan
March 15, 2011

Attorney General Bill Schuette: EMU’s student’s
religious beliefs against homosexuality violated

by David Jesse / Detroit Free Press Higher Education Writer

LANSING, Mi. — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has waded into a closely watched federal appeals case, siding with an Eastern Michigan University student who claims her dismissal from the university for refusing to counsel gay and lesbian patients violated her religious belief against homosexuality.

Schuette is the latest entrant in a case that has drawn conservative and religious groups, public universities and civil liberties organizations.

“This case really is at the intersection of a lot of values,” said Christopher Lund, an assistant law professor at Wayne State University who specializes in religious liberty issues.

“There’s gay rights versus religious liberty and the rights of individuals versus the rights of the universities to set curriculum. Whenever all those cross, you’ve got a lot of people and organizations that are interested.”

The suit also shows Schuette’s willingness to weigh in on social issues.

“This case signals he will act on questions of constitutionality, such as the case of President Obama’s health care law,” said AG spokesman John Sellek. “This case is also a constitutional issue, where no one should lose their religious freedoms as they work to get an education.”

A case study of religious versus university rights
Eastern Michigan University discriminated against former student Julea Ward when it dismissed her from its counseling program after she said her Christian beliefs prohibited her from counseling a gay client, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a court filing.

That’s not the case at all, EMU said. Ward was dismissed because her refusal to counsel the patient didn’t follow the assigned curriculum and professional ethics guidelines set up the American Counseling Association, the school said.

EMU’s position has been upheld by a federal judge. Now Ward, with briefs of support from Schuette and a number of religious rights organizations, has appealed that ruling. Oral arguments are expected to begin later this year. It’s a case that’s being closely watched, not only by religious organizations, but by other universities. Nine Michigan public universities have filed a brief supporting EMU, saying the case is about who controls curriculum — the university or the students.

“Fundamentally, this case raises the question of whether universities have the freedom to determine their own curricula or whether they must fashion their curricular requirements around the religious, political, social, philosophical and ideological beliefs and expressions of each and every students,” said the brief submitted by the University of Michigan, Central Michigan, Grand Valley State, Michigan State, and five other schools.

It was written by Debra Kowich of U-M’s general counsel office, who wrote that a ruling for Ward “could require universities to dilute their curricular requirements to the point that they would not possibly offend any student of any faith” or political view.

But that’s not how Ward sees it. She and her attorneys at the Alliance Defense Fund say the case is about religious discrimination.

Ward sued the university after it dismissed her from its graduate counseling program in 2009 after she refused to work on a gay client’s relationship issues in a clinical program. She said she believes homosexuality is immoral and being gay or lesbian is a choice and thus she could not in good conscience counsel the client.

EMU said it dismissed her because she didn’t follow a code of ethics that requires counselors to set aside their own personal beliefs in order to work with clients.

Judge George Steeh of the U.S. District Court in Detroit ruled for EMU last July, saying the school was within its rights to dismiss Ward for failing to follow its curriculum. The judge wrote that Ward “has distorted the facts in this case to support her position that defendants dismissed her due to her religious beliefs.”

Ward and her attorneys, a legal group that works to uphold the rights of religious college students and faculty, have asked the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to step in. They did not return calls seeking comment on Monday.

But in their legal brief for Ward, the lawyers wrote that “EMU violated Ms. Ward’s right to the free exercise of religion by acting as arbiters of her religious beliefs.”

Schuette agrees with them.

“There is a striking difference between EMU’s written standards and EMU’s application of those rules to Julea Ward,” the brief by Schuette’s office said. “Indeed, the evidence suggests that Ward was punished and ultimately dismissed from the program solely for her attempt to exercise disfavored religious beliefs, not for a violation of the code.

The attorney general’s brief, filed Friday, also suggests political correctness was at work, suggesting “that EMU ‘weeded out’ Ward solely because of her religious views to ensure that only candidates with the ‘right’ beliefs are admitted to the counseling profession.”

A number of gay rights groups have weighed in as well, including a brief filed jointly by the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Affirmations and the Ruth Ellis Center in support of EMU, which says counselors, especially school counselors (which Ward wanted to be), must be supportive of students, whatever their own views.

“A school counselor who is unwilling to assist such students, or worse, a counselor who expresses disapproval of a student’s status as LGBT — is both incapable of doing her job and likely to cause significant harm,” the groups’ brief said.

EMU says the case is about its curriculum, and nothing else. “This case has never been about religion or religious discrimination,” EMU spokesman Walter Kraft said in a statement last week. “It is not about homosexuality or sexual orientation. This case is about what is in the best interest of a client who is in need of counseling, and following the curricular requirements of our highly respected and nationally accredited counseling program.”

——————————————————————————-

Voices in the debate over
EMU student’s dismissal

Julea Ward’s suit against Eastern Michigan University
has attracted many groups interested in the outcome.

Filed legal briefs supporting Ward

• National Association of Scholars
• The American Center for Law and Justice
• Justice and Freedom Fund
• The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
• Foundation for Moral Law
• Michigan attorney general

Filed legal briefs supporting EMU

• American Counseling Association
• ACLU, ACLU of Michigan
• Affirmations; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Ruth Ellis Center.
• Central Michigan, Grand Valley State, Michigan State, Northern Michigan, Oakland, Saginaw Valley, Wayne State, and Western Michigan universities, University of Michigan
• Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Related Links
PDF: ACA Code of Ethics http://bit.ly/gqhF6a
PDF: Attorney General brief http://bit.ly/hBJWuV
PDF: Universities’ brief http://bit.ly/fMpo6q

http://www.freep.com/article/201103150300/NEWS06/103150369

Click here to visit Clean Hotels.com

Categories
Abortion
Eminent Domain
General
Homosexual Agenda
AFL-CIO
Boy Scouts
Public Health
In The News
Marriage
News Releases
Pornography
Public Schools and Universities
Religious Freedom
Religious Heritage

Click here to complain to the FCC