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CAN LEGAL ANTI-CHRISTIAN DISCRIMINATION HAPPEN HERE? MORE REASON FOR MY FELLOW BELIEVERS TO JOIN THE LIBERTARIAN CAUSE!

Thanks to again the unofficial Tory website (www.conservativehome.com) we have this disturbing article suggesting that followers of Christ may be excluded from certain jobs.  Here are some highlights from Dr. Martin Parsons’ article:

I knew Greg from the time I was a teenager, he was the sort of person who would do anything for anyone. A family man with two children, he lived on a large council estate and was a district nurse. When he became a magistrate, people said ‘that’s exactly the sort of person we need as a magistrate – someone who really understands ordinary people’s lives’. A couple of years ago I heard that Greg had quietly stepped down. The reason was that his lifestyle values were incompatible with him being on the adoption panel. It’s the sort of example you expect to hear from Stonewall about discrimination against gay people, but Greg wasn’t gay, he was a committed Christian and under legislation brought in by Labour he was required to act against his conscience by placing children for adoption with gay couples. He didn’t make a loud complaint about it, he didn’t mount a legal challenge against the decision (although one Christian magistrate did and was told that the new legislation required him to act against his conscience), Greg simply stepped down quietly – as did almost certainly many hundreds like him.

Parsons argues this is not an isolated incident.

The magistrates bench hasn’t been the only area of public life that Christians have been increasingly excluded from as a result of the last Labour government’s ‘equality’ legislation. Lillian Ladelle was a registrar, who as a result of the particular way the Labour government not only framed equality laws but required civil servants to carry them out – lost her job. As a committed Christian she could not in all conscience carry out a civil partnership ceremony, which participants regarded as gay marriage. She tried to swap shifts to avoid carrying out civil partnership ceremonies, but was ordered to do them.

Could I (if I were a judge) do a gay marriage ceremony?  I personally did not think it would matter (as long as it is legal) but it could be seen by others as a personal endorsement.  But the issue is:  Why not respect others’ conscience?  Ladelle did not say no one could do it; she tried to arrange it so that others could meet that need.  (Keep in mind thanks to the recent decision in CA, this may not be a hypothetical situation!)  The Labour Government refused to adopt a conscience clause:

She lost her case for unfair dismissal on the grounds that the new legislation required her to carry out civil partnership ceremonies. She was by no means the only Christian working as a registrar to be put in this position. The real tragedy of the story is that when the Labour government passed this legislation it was told that it would directly lead to people like Lillian being either forced to act against their moral conscience or lose their jobs. The Labour government refused to make any special provisions and insisted that Christian civil servants like Lillian would either have to act against their conscience or lose their jobs.

This seems over the top for the situation.  But there’s more:

Legislation enacted by the last Labour government required independent Roman Catholic adoption agencies to act against their beliefs by placing children for adoption with gay couples. It was not that gay couples could not adopt children from other adoption agencies, they could, as such many commentators observed that there was no need for this legislation. Indeed, the social cost was very high as RC adoption agencies successfully placed some of the most hard to adopt children and the legislation directly led to the closure of a number of these adoption agencies.

A similar situation happened in Massachusetts after the gay marriage decision. This also happened in our nation’s capital:

The D.C. City Council’s law recognizing same-sex “marriage” required religious entities which serve the general public to provide services to homosexual couples, even if doing so violated their religious beliefs. Exemptions were allowed only for performing marriages or for those entities which do not serve the public.

*  *  *

D.C. law also now requires partners with the city to provide benefits for same-sex couples. This also poses a problem for Catholic Charities, though the Washington Post reports that the organization is optimistic it can structure benefits in a way that would allow it to remain in partnerships with the city.

This is a law that Congress could have stopped but did not do so.  But perhaps one could say that nobody could be fired for a similar situation due to our Constitution but perhaps not:

Monday, a federal court upheld the school’s decision to kick Christian graduate student Julea Ward out of its counseling program after she refused to affirm a gay client’s relationship during a practicum. She said she believes homosexuality is immoral and being gay is a choice and therefore could not in good conscience counsel the client.

This is from annarbor.com.  Here’s the other side of this matter:

In a statement issued Tuesday, EMU officials said they adhered to the Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Ethical Standards of the American School Counselor Association in their decision to dismiss Ward.

Steeh said Ward’s unwillingness to meet with “an entire class” of people was a violation of those codes.

*  *  *

“This isn’t about the thought police,” Irene Ametrano, an EMU professor of counseling and chairwoman of Ward’s formal review committee, was quoted in Inside Higher Ed as saying. “This is about behaviors that are appropriate or not appropriate within counseling.”

The counseling student did refuse to counsel the gay client but also referred it out:

In refusing to counsel the client, Ward told her professors she could not violate her religious beliefs regarding a gay client’s counseling needs, so she referred him instead to another counselor.

I wonder what would have happened if she had told the gay client just that:  That gay behavior is immoral?  It seems to me to remove this student from the program is over the top.  There’s at least one other situation, according to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) who is litigating this matter (the ADF is fighting the good fight on many fronts for folks just like this – go to www.alliancedefensefund.org for more details) in Georgia:

The organization that represented Ward has gone on the offensive. Two days after Ward’s suit was dismissed, the ADF filed a similar lawsuit in a federal court in Georgia. The suit against Augusta State University alleges the school has told a student her Christian views are incompatible with the field of counseling, according to an ADF press release.

The facts are stark:  Julea Ward was told initially she could refer out the gay client but then there was a hearing on her alleged behavior.  Ward also said she could counsel a gay person on all issues other than affirming the relationship:

In front of the formal review committee March 10, Ward stated she could not in good conscience counsel a client with concerns about a gay relationship in an affirmative way. She would, however, counsel gay clients on any other issue. Ward said that affirming gay relationships “forces me to violate my religious beliefs and conscious.” She said Callaway had laughed at her when she relayed that she would not “sell out” her faith.

The EMU officials did more than laugh, they poked fun at her faith and beliefs:

Transcripts show the panel frequently interrupted Ward, asked Ward if her “brand of Christianity” was superior to that of other Christians and quizzed her on her views on abortion and whether or not she would counsel those from other religions.

There was of course no gloating by EMU officials over this legal victory:

Officials at EMU were celebrating their ruling last week.

“Monday’s ruling in the Julea Ward case was a major victory for Eastern, and for universities across the country, as the administration and our legal team pursued an aggressive legal approach to protect academic freedom and the academic integrity of our programs and faculty,” wrote Walter Kraft, vice president for communications, in an e-mail to faculty and staff.

I am not sure how academic freedom was implicated in this situation and the ADF will appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

One last lesson:  Surely the ACLU was on Ward’s side?  Right?  Nope…

Jay Kaplan, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, agreed that EMU has a right to set its own curriculum and acted properly in dismissing Ward. The ACLU was not involved in the case.

“The school was never saying, ‘You can’t hold your viewpoint,’” said Kaplan, who litigates on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as part of his organization’s LGBT Project.

“As part of their program, students in the counseling program have to learn to focus on the client, and not issues about their values.”

Ward was unable to do this, he said, as her values were at odds with one of the “intrinsic requirements” of the coursework.

Of course followers of Christ must trust in Jesus first; not person or political parties ever.  But those who laughed at Ron Paul in the last election cycle need to realize that on a human level it is a libertarian Republic that is best for the propagating and practice of our faith.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

4 Responses to “CAN LEGAL ANTI-CHRISTIAN DISCRIMINATION HAPPEN HERE? MORE REASON FOR MY FELLOW BELIEVERS TO JOIN THE LIBERTARIAN CAUSE!”

  1. GW says:

    Great post. The war on religion in America and the West has been one of my own personal bugaboos for years. It has been ongoing in the West for 200 years, and in America since 1950. The secular left is using the police power of the state to elevate their beliefs ahead of religious convictions. It has existential ramifications. For what it is worth, if you are interested, http://wolfhowling.blogspot.com/2010/04/war-on-religion.html

  2. interconnectivity says:

    I must say, I am very proud of EMU on this one, and very proud to be an EMU student. It is of the utmost importance that the educational system that is to educate and train our young leaders is not watered down or changed to fit with the narrow views of Christians. As a very spiritual person, I find religion to be the downfall of much of society. Even when I considered myself to be a very reverent and devout Christian, I discovered the many fallacies of organized religion, and how much it diluted the spiritual experience, including connection with “God.” As one steps outside the cookie-cutter that is religion, one can start to understand and experience the true nature of spirituality and the implications that has on humanity. Trying to force ideals into the mainstream is a common tactic of religion and needs to stay out of our educational systems in order that they may be free of obstacles in fully training and educating tomorrow’s leaders. EMU,as well as every other university in this country and around the globe, need to continue their noble efforts to keep education out of the hands of idealists and allow the educational process to flow without interference.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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