Robert Knight

Christians, orthodox Jews or anyone with traditional views of sex and marriage should be barred from state university counseling programs unless they agree to violate their beliefs.

That’s the gist of the amicus brief that the ACLU filed on Feb. 11 in a case in which a Christian student is challenging her dismissal from a graduate counseling program at Eastern Michigan University in 2009.

Julea Ward had asked that another student take the case of a homosexual suffering from depression because, being a Christian, she could not affirm the person’s sexual relationships. Miss Ward was dismissed, and filed a lawsuit charging unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, religious discrimination and compelled speech. On July 26, 2010, a U.S. District Court denied her claim, and she appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ACLU’s brief to the appeals court contends that compelling someone to act against her beliefs does not violate her freedoms of religion or speech. They quote the university’s finding that Ward had a “conflict between your values that motivate your behavior and those behaviors expected of your profession.” In other words, you’re a conscientious Christian, so get lost.

This is one of several cases in which Christians have been told to conform to “diversity” requirements or leave counseling programs. At Augusta State University in Georgia, Jennifer Keeton sued in 2010 after being told she had to take re-education courses to counter her Christian morality or be expelled from a master’s program. Losing in a U.S. District Court, she has appealed to the 11th Circuit.

In the Michigan case, the ACLU’s brief rests heavily on the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Code of Ethics, which prohibits discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and a dozen other characteristics. Julea Ward contends that the code allows referrals to other counselors in situations such as hers.

The brief cites last year’s egregious U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez) that upheld the (Berkeley) Hastings College of Law’s decision to eject a Christian legal group for not allowing open homosexuals in leadership positions. Writing for the majority in that case, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said:

“Condemnation of same-sex intimacy is, in fact, a condemnation of gay people,” and “our decisions have declined to distinguish between status and conduct in this context.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.